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  • Wu Xia (USA: "Dragon") premieres to rave critical reviews at the Cannes Film Festival by Stephen Rakower

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    By Stephen Rakower

    Wu Xia (U.S. title: "Dragon") directed and produced by Peter Ho-sun Chan, and written by Aubrey Lam premiered this past weekend at the Cannes Film Festival to positive reviews. The movie is set in the early 1900's in a village in Yunnan province. Liu Jin-xi, played by Donnie Yen ("Hero"), is a papermaker and his wife, Ayu, played by Tang Wei (Lust, Caution), and two young sons, live a seemingly normal life in the remote village. However, the arrival of a detective, Xu Baijin , played by Takeshi Kaneshiro ("House of Flying Daggers") soon threatens to tear them apart. Critics are raving about the story, the cinematography, and the martial arts scenes.

    Here are some of the early reviews coming in for the film:

    Time Magazine's Mary Corliss.

    First Showing's Alex Billington.

    ChannelNewsAsia.com's Han Wei Chou

    Hollywood Reporter

  • Photos of AEA's Asian Heritage Celebration, featuring the Leviathan Lab Asian American Women Writers Workshop

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    The playwrights and producing team of AEA's Asian Heritage Celebration, featuring the Leviathan Lab Asian American Women Writers Workshop (L to R) Kristine M. Reyes, May Nazareno, Leanne Cabrera, Dorim Lee, Christine Toy Johnson, Nancy Eng, Marisa Marquez, Siho Ellsmore, Nelson Eusebio, Ji Hyun Lee, Ariel Estrada, Elaina Erika Davis, Eileen Rivera. © Lia Chang

    On May 12th and 13th, AEA’s Eastern Region Equal Employment Opportunity Committee in collaboration with Leviathan Lab’s Asian American Women Writers’ Workshop, celebrated Asian Heritage Month with a salon of concert readings of new monologues and 10 minute plays, at the AEA Audition Center in New York. Leanne Cabrera, Nora Chau, Elaina Erika Davis, Siho Ellsmore, Nancy Eng, Christine Toy Johnson, Dorim Lee, Marisa Marquez, May Nazareno, Kristine M. Reyes, Eileen Rivera and Susan Soon He Stanton were among the playwrights featured.

    Tanforan playwright Christine Toy Johnson (center) is flanked by her cast (L-R) Jennifer Prescott, Valerie Wright, Charlotte D'Amboise, and director JoAnn Hunter. © Lia Chang

    The Festival was the brainchild of Christine Toy Johnson (Playwright/Actor and Co-chair of AEA’s EEOC), Ariel Estrada (EEOC member and founder of Leviathan Lab), Nelson T. Eusebio III (Resident Director at Leviathan Lab), and Ji-Hyun Lee (playwright) who joined forces to create a platform for Asian American female playwrights.

    Cast and crew of AEA’s Asian Heritage Celebration. © Lia Chang

    Siho Ellsmore in Nora Chau's Akiko Runs. © Lia Chang

     

    Mariana Newhard in Elaina Erika Davis' Sakura, or Cherry Blossoms. © Lia Chang

    Nancy Eng in Dorim Lee's Eye for an Eye. © Lia Chang

    Cast of Susan Soon He Stanton's Don't Think Twice, Angela Lin and James Chen, Directed by Jesse Jou © Lia Chang

    Cast of Kristine M. Reyes' Ready, Aim...Fire!, Zack Griffiths and Helen Farmer, Directed by Victor Lirio © Lia Chang

    Cast of Siho Ellsmore's The Goddesses (L to R) Brent Yoshikami, Leanne...

  • Ajay Naidu's Ashes Screens on May 15 at 6th Annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival in Edgewood, PA

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    Actor Ajay Naidu’s directorial debut Ashes screens during the 6th Annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival on  Sunday, May 15 at 5:30pm, at the Regent Square Theater, 1035 S. Braddock Ave in Edgewood, PA.  Faran Tahir, Samrat Chakrabarti, Firdous Bamji, Heather Burns, Maurice Carr and Piper Perabo are also featured in the Ashes cast.

    The 6th Annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, presented by the Silk Screen: Asian Arts and Cultural Organization, runs from May 11 -15, 2011.

    Ajay Naidu is an award-winning actor, filmmaker, dancer, director, M.C., vocalist and writer. He has worked extensively in film, television and theater with more than 50 onscreen credits. He has appeared in the films Office Space, K-Pax, π, Requiem for a Dream, Bad Santa, The War Within, The Guru, Waterborne, The Loins of Punjab Presents, Where the River Runs Black, Vice Versa, Touch and Go and many more. When Naidu’s portrayal in SubUrbia as convenience store owner “Nazeer Choudhury” garnered him an Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Actor nod, his formidable competition included Roy Scheider and Sam Jackson. He can currently be seen in Ashes, his directorial debut in which he played the title character, served as writer and director. Ashes was nominated for Best Film, Screenplay and Director, after the film screened at New York’s MIAAC Film Festival in 2010; Naidu took home the prize for Best Actor at MIAAC and the London Asian Film Festival. Ashes also won Best Film of the Festival at the Queens World Film Festival.

    Samrat Chakrabarti and Ashes filmmaker and star Ajay Naidu at the MIAAC screening of Ashes at the SVA Theater in New York on November 12, 2010. Naidu was named Best Actor for Ashes at the Festival Photo by Lia Chang

    On television, Naidu was a series regular in “LateLine” and had guest starring roles on the “30 Rock,” “The Sopranos,” “The West Wing,” “Kings,” “Mercy,” “Bored to Death,” “MacGyver” and many more. He...
  • Photos: Samrat Chakrabarti, Soham Mehta and Shiva Shankar Bajpai at the 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival

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    Samrat Chakrabarti at the NYIFF at Tribeca Cinemas on May 7, 2011. © liachang.com

    “Samrat Chakrabarti is one of the finest Indian actors working today,” said Aseem Chhabra, Film Festival Director of the 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF). Presented by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), the New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) which just completed a successful five-day run, is the oldest and most prestigious Indian film festival in the country.

     

    Chakrabarti, an award-winning actor and internationally acclaimed musician, starred in three short films- Rehana Mirza’s Zameer & Preeti: A Love Story, Soham Mehta’s Fatakra and Shiva Shankar Bajpai’s Raju- that screened at the Festival. Film projects in the can include A.J. Carter’s Extinction, Deepa Mehta’s Winds of Change, Dagen Merrill’s Murder in the Dark, Michael Walker’s Price Check, Richard Atkinson’s Dogs Lie and Salim Khassa’s Desperate Endeavors. His recent guest starring appearances on TV include “Outsourced” (HBO), “In Treatment” opposite Irrfan Khan (HBO), “30 ROCK” (NBC) “The Horrible Terrible Misadventures of David Atkins,” and “Bored to Death.”

    Soham Mehta’s Fatakra copyright 2011 Soham Mehta

    I was particularly moved by Chakrabarti’s soulful performance as Naveen in Fatakra (Firecracker), a tailor who left his wife and son in India to chase his dreams in America. When they join him three years and a recession later, the sparks that fly on their first day together as dreams collide with reality are heartbreaking. Chakrabarti also composed the score for Fatakra, which has garnered accolades at Film Festivals across the country. Director Soham Mehta recently received the Linda Mabalot New Directors/New Visions award from the 2011 LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL, picked up the Audience Award for Best Short at the 2011 Sarasota Film Festival, and has been nominated for a Student Academy Award.

    (l-r) Fatakra director Soham Mehta,...

  • Sthaniya Sambaad, Aparna Sen, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rishi Kapoor, Bhopali among 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival Winners

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    Sthaniya Sambaad (Spring in the Colony), directed by Arjun Gourisaria & Moinak Biswas was named Best Feature Film.

    The 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival came to a close on May 8 with the Closing Night premiere of Rituparno Ghosh’s film Noukadubi at the Asia Society in New York, which was attended by Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh Kapoor, Salman Rushdie, Mira Nair, Aparna Sen, Madhur Jaffrey, Ambassador Prakash Shah, Consul General Prabhu Dayal, and many other notable celebrities. After the screening, this year’s awards were announced.

    Best Director winner Aparna Sen (Iti Mrinalini). Photo Credit: MichaelToolan.com

    Sthaniya Sambaad (Spring in the Colony), directed by Arjun Gourisaria & Moinak Biswas was named Best Feature Film. Iti Mrinalini scored two nods with Best Actress for Konkona Sen Sharma and Best Director for Aparna Sen. Rishi Kapoor was named Best Actor for Disney’s Do Dooni Chaar.

    (L-R) Presenter Neetu Singh Kapoor and Best Actor winner Rishi Kapoor (Do Dooni Chaar) Photo Credit: MichaelToolan.com

    Mohan Raghavan received Best Screenplay for T.D. Dasan Std. VI B., Max Carlson’s Bhopali ,which covered the 1984 Union Carbide factory gas leak that contaminated and killed thousands in Bhopal, India, was named Best Documentary, and Abhay Kumar’s Just That Sort Of A Day was named Best Short Film.

    Mohan Raghavan received Best Screenplay for T.D. Dasan Std. VI B.,

    The New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), presented by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), is the oldest and most prestigious Indian film festival in the country. http://www.iaac.us/nyiff2011/

    Max Carlson’s Bhopali was named Best Documentary.

    About the Indo-American Arts Council: The Indo-American Arts Council is a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit, secular service and resource arts organization charged with the mission of promoting and building the awareness, creation, production, exhibition, publication and performance of Indian and cross-cultural art forms in North...
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