A CO-PRESENTATION OF CENTER FOR ASIAN AMERICAN MEDIA
A screening of the controversial Chinese film City of Life and Death and the exclusive engagements of celebrated Filipino filmmaker Lino Brocka's Bayan Ko and Manila in the Claws of Neon highlight PFA's schedule
February 4, 2010, Berkeley, CA-(Download a PDF version of this press release.) The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is honored to host eighteen features from the 28th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival from Friday, March 12, through Saturday, March 20. The offerings at PFA this year include outstanding recent films from the United States, Japan, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Austria, Iran, and Hong Kong, as well as a spotlight on Filipino filmmaker Lino Brocka. Among the many highlights of this year's screenings at PFA are in-person appearances by Deann Borshay Liem (In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee), James T. Hong (Lessons of the Blood), and Quentin Lee (The People I've Slept With).
Screenings will take place at PFA, which is located at 2575 Bancroft Way near Bowditch Street, on the southern edge of the UC Berkeley campus. General admission to the screenings is $12 per program. Students, seniors, and disabled persons are admitted for $10; and BAM/PFA and CAAM members for $9. Advance tickets for programs are available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the BAM admissions desk, evenings at the PFA Box Office, online at bampfa.berkeley.edu/filmseries, or by telephone at (510) 642-5249. For information about screenings in San Francisco and San Jose, or about purchasing PFA tickets in San Francisco, please visit the SFIAAFF website at asianamericanmedia.org.
The festival presentations at PFA begin Friday, March 12, with the black-and-white Independencia, the second installment in Cannes Film Festival favorite Raya Martin's daring historical trilogy of the Philippines. An investigation of American colonialism, the film also doubles as a “re-creation” of a lost era of Philippine cinema. Appearing on the PFA screen later that evening is The Message by Taiwanese director Chen Kuo-Fu and Mainland Chinese director Gao Qunshu. An entertaining spy thriller by WWII-era Chinese spies up against the might of the Japanese Imperial Army, the film boasts some of the biggest stars in Chinese cinema today. On Saturday March 13, Deann Borshay Liem will appear in person at the screening of her latest film In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, an exploration of Korea's scarred national history through the eyes of a Korean orphan adopted by American parents who returns to South Korea to explore her birth identity. South Korea is also the setting for Hong Sang-soo's Like You Know It All and its bumbling, drunken, insecure, and envious film-director protagonist Ku Gyun-nam. The evening closes with Indonesian Joko Anwar's creepy suspense-horror about an art sculptor. The Forbidden Door will dazzle PFA audiences with its homages to David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock, and David Cronenberg.
On Sunday, March 14, PFA welcomes filmmaker James T. Hong in person to present Lessons of the Blood, which he made with Yin-Ju Chen. The film is a crusade to expose Japanese historical revisionism of war crimes. In response to Japan's controversial erasure of atrocities against its Asian neighbors, particularly China, James and Chen have generated many interview hours with survivors and have now wrapped this doc material in their own inimitable polemic-cinema style. Dear Doctor is a poignant drama by young Japanese director Miwa Nishikawa about a revered doctor in a small village, who, in an unusual act of kindness, vanishes to help one of his patients, leaving the villagers to ask if a lie is truly a sin. Closing the weekend is Hong Kong's entry to the Academy Awards, Yonfon's Prince of Tears. Yonfan uses a child's point of view to create a darkly lyrical fairytale out of Taiwan's oppressive “White Terror” era, when the government arrested and executed thousands of individuals suspected of being Communists.
On March 16, PFA welcomes director Quentin Lee (co-director of the groundbreaking Asian American feature Shopping for Fangs) who will be presenting his latest The People I've Slept With. Lee turns the romantic comedy genre on its head with the tale of a promiscuous soon-to-be mother and her search to discover who the daddy might be. Using only a Nokia camera phone, Sepideh Farsi set out to capture the moods and times of Tehran leading up to the controversial election of 2009. The result of Farsi's clandestine interviews and conversations is Tehran Without Permission, also appearing on March 16. March 17 brings two new Thai films, Uruphong Rakasad's Agrarian Utopia and Anocha Suwichakornpong's Mundane History. Rakasad's visually stunning docu-fictional film serves as a visually stunning polemic about agricultural life in a time of mass farming, government instability, and global price setting. Suwichakornpong's Mundane History follows the intimacy that develops between a male nurse and a young invalid, but at its heart it is also fixated on the natural world: the sound of birds and wind, sunlight on the lawn, the silence of interior spaces. On March 18, Austrian filmmaker Brigitte Weich explores several different facets of North Korean society through the unlikely triumphs of their underdog women's soccer team in Hana, Dul, Sed.
The festival also features the exclusive U.S. engagements of two films by legendary Filipino filmmaker Lino Brocka-Bayan Ko: My Own Country, screening on March 18, and Manila in the Claws of Neon, screening on March 20. One of the more courageous films on the festival's schedule, Bayan Ko was made during the heyday of the oppressive Marcos Regime in the Philippines (1984), when the slightest hint of dissent was met with fierce political retribution. Using only the slightest veneer of noir to help disguise its political message from censors, the film demonstrates how a cautious and not truly politically awakened man is snared by economic and social circumstance into a downward spiral of crime and violence. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and its premier brought worldwide attention to the unfortunate political situation in the Philippines, leading an irate Ferdinand Marcos to revoke Brocka's citizenship. Brocka's 1975 masterpiece Manila in the Claws of Neon, appearing on PFA's screen on March 20, is no less scathing. The film follows a young provincial man as he seeks out a lost love in the hellhole that is metro Manila. Its uncompromising and raw visuals inform the “Manila look” for practically every Manila-based noir that followed.
On PFA's final weekend of the festival schedule, we will be offering a program of new short films by a dream collection of directors, titled What We Talk About When We . . . : Shorts by Apichatpong, Tsai, Jia, and Hong, screening on March 19. Indeed, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tsai Ming-liang, Jia Zhang-ke, and Hong Sang-soo are four of the most talented directors in Asia, if not the world. Also on March 19 is the first U.S. screening of Lu Chuan's City of Life and Death, a spectacularly visceral epic on the notorious fall of Nanking. The film was recently pulled from the Palm Springs International Film Festival by Chinese officials in protest of the screening of another documentary about the Dalai Lama and Tibet at the festival. Finally, Iranian filmmakers Asghar Farhadi's About Elly, winner of the Best Narrative Feature award at the Tribeca Film Festival, closes PFA's portion of the schedule on March 20. In the film, a lighthearted getaway for a close circle of friends and their families takes a turn for the worse when their quiet outsider guest, Elly, disappears.
A list of times and titles of screenings at the PFA Theater follows. For program notes on these screenings, please visit bampfa.berkeley.edu/filmseries. The festival schedule and program notes will be available on the BAM/PFA website on February 16, 2010.
Pacific Film Archive Theater
2575 Bancroft Way near Bowditch Street
University of California, Berkeley
(510) 642-1412 / bampfa.berkeley.edu/filmseries
Peter Cavagnaro, firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 642-0365
28th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival:
Screenings at PFA Theater
A Presentation of Center for Asian American Media
Friday, March 12
7:00 pm: Independencia (Philippines, 2009), Raya Martin.
8:40 pm: The Message (China, 2009), Chen Kuo-fu and Gao Qunshu.
Saturday March 13
3:30 pm: In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee (U.S., 2009), Deann Borshay Liem. Director Deann Borshay Liem in Person.
5:30 pm: Like You Know It All (South Korea, 2009), Hong Sang-soo.
8:00 pm: The Forbidden Door (Indonesia, 2009), Joko Anwar.
Sunday March 14
3:30 pm: Lessons of the Blood (U.S., 2010). James T. Hong and Ju Chen. Director James T. Hong in Person.
5:30 pm: Dear Doctor (Japan, 2009), Miwa Nishikawa.
8:00 pm: Prince of Tears (Hong Kong/Taiwan, 2009), Yonfan.
Tuesday March 16
7:00 pm: Tehran Without Permission (France/Iran, 2009), Sepideh Farsi.
8:45 pm: The People I've Slept With (U.S., 2009), Quentin Lee. Director Quentin Lee in Person.
Wednesday March 17
7:00 pm: Agrarian Utopia (Thailand, 2009), Uruphong Rakasad.
9:20 pm: Mundane History (Thailand, 2009), Anocha Suwichakornpong.
Thursday March 18
7:00 pm: Hana, Dul, Sed (Austria, 2009), Brigitte Weich.
9:00 pm: Bayan Ko: My Own Country (Philippines, 1984), Lino Brocka.
Friday March 19
7:00 pm: What We Talk About When We . . . : Shorts by Apichatpong, Tsai, Jia, and Hong
Featuring: A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Thailand/U.K. Germany, 2009) Apichatpong Weerasethakul; Madam Butterfly (Italy/Taiwan/France, 2008), Tsai Ming-liang; Cry Me a River (China, 2008), Jia Zhang-ke; and Lost in the Mountains (South Korea, 2009), Hong Sang-soo.
9:10 pm: City of Life and Death (China, 2009), Lu Chuan.
Saturday March 20
6:00 pm: Manila in the Claws of Neon (Philippines, 1975), Lino Brocka.
8:30 pm: About Elly (Iran, 2009), Asghar Farhadi.
General admission: $12
Seniors, students, disabled persons: $10
BAM/PFA and CAAM Members: $9