The 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) produced by Visual Communications celebrated the closing night of their 28th Anniversary edition on Thursday night with the US premiere screening of the Taiwanese film “Joyful Reunion” and the announcement of this year’s jury prizes.
Director/writer Musa Syeed and producer Nicholas Bruckman were awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best Overall Narrative Feature for their moving “Valley of Saints.” The Festival’s Outstanding Director Award also went to Musa Syeed for “Valley of Saints,” with a Special Jury Mention to Lily Mariye for her film “Model Minority.”
Valley of Saints – During a violent summer in the beautiful Kashmir Valley, a young boatman tries to escape. But then he finds a new love. It’s a story of conflict, but it’s also about the environmental destruction of the beautiful Dal Lake.
Additional narrative film awards given out included: Outstanding Screenplay to writer H.P. Mendoza for the script for “Yes We’re Open”; Outstanding Cinematography to John Matysiak for “MODEL MINORITY”; and Outstanding First Feature Award went to Daniel Hsia for “SHANGHAI CALLING”, his feature directorial debut.
Acting awards given out this year included: Dante Basco receiving Best Actor Award, for his performances in “PARADISE BROKEN”; Best Newcomer Actor Awards going to Nichole Bloom of “MODEL MINORITY” and Kevin Wu of “HANG LOOSE”; and Best Ensemble Acting Award went to “SUNSET STORIES”, which features performances from Sung Kang, Monique Curnen, Michelle Krusiec, Joshua Leonard and Sandy Martin.
Model Minority – brings home the feeling of what it is like to grow up as a bicultural teenager in multicultural Los Angeles.
In the documentary jury competition, “Where Heaven Meets Hell” directed by Sasha Friedlander received the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film. Debbie Lum was awarded the Outstanding Director Award for her film, “Seeking Asian Female”. The award for Outstanding Cinematography was a tie and it went to Sasha Friedlander and Bao Nguyen for “Where Heaven Meets Hell” and to Sun Shaoguang for “China Heavyweight”.
Filmmakers Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco received the Special Jury Award For Human Rights, for their film “Give Up Tomorrow” which chronicles the frenzied legal and media circus that surrounds the decade long campaign to execute or save one young man, Paco Larrañaga.
Yes, We’re Open – A contemporary spin on a classic predicament, this film takes an intimate look at liberal San Francisco lifestyles over dinner and drinks with a side of infidelity.
Short films this year were in abundance, with over 140 shorts being screened at the festival. The moving film “Nani” from Justin Tipping received the Golden Reel Award, while Mitsuyo Miyazaki was honored with the Linda Mabalot New Directors/New Visions Award.
Nani – A teenage graffiti artist and an elderly nursing home resident form an unlikely bond through misadventures in graffiti.
Rounding out the event was the presentation of the C3: Project Market Award. This is a new program started at this year’s festival recognizing new projects with a $5,000 prize for the best project pitch.
“Over the course of two days, the C3: Project Market filmmakers had over 140 meetings connecting them to financiers, producers, production companies, agents, managers and industry executives,” states Milton Liu, Director of Programs and Artists Services. “These wonderful voices evidence the depth, breadth and continued strength of Asian American storytellers, and we are so proud that they made the inaugural C3: Project Market an overwhelming success.”
The C3: Project Market Jury Award went to Liselle Mei and Derek Nguyen for their project titled, “Seeing Red.” An honorable mention was awarded to Musa Syeed and Nicholas Bruckman for “The Doctor.”
The 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival kicked off on May 10 with “Shanghai Calling”, directed by Daniel Hsia and starring Daniel Henney. The Fest will conclude May 18-20 with encore screenings of award winners along with special Pacific Islander and Cambodian programming in Long Beach, including: “The Orator” directed by Tusi Tamasese; “Siones 2: Unfinished Business” (aka Samoan Wedding 2) directed by Simon Bennett; and “Golden Slumbers” directed by Davy Chou. For more info go to www.vconline.org
Audience Awards will be announced next week, after the final day of the festival.