S.F. Asian American Film Festival goes silver 

Film festivals today are dime a dozen. In fact, there are well over a thousand in the world. San Francisco, however, has not one but two of the really significant festivals,and this year is of special importance for both, and for their participants and audiences.

The San Francisco International Film Festival, the nation's oldest, will mark the half-century mark in April. Before that, in March, the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival will unspool its 25th annual edition.

During an 11-day period from March 15 through March 25, the Asian American festival will offer 128 films from 20 countries — but don't look for them at the festival's old home. Under its new name, and undergoing some fix-ups, the Sundance Kabuki 8 Theaters in Japantown will not be available in March — although accommodating the SF International Film Festival for its run from April 26 through May 10.

And so the Asian American's 25th season will move to the AMC 1000 Van Ness, also using the Castro and Opera Plaza theaters. Other festival venues include Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, and San Jose's Cameras 12 Cinemas.

(Courtesy photo) Justin Lin’s "Finishing the Game," a comedy including footage left behind by Bruce Lee, opens the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival on March 15.

The figures are impressive, especially to those who still remember the festival's humble beginnings, and how off the American mainstream "Asian cinema" was in those days. It seems like there was a mere dozen of us around for the screening of Wayne Wang's "Chen Is Missing" back then; 29,000 attended last year's festival.

For the silver anniversary: 15 world premieres (including eight feature films), and 14 American premieres. In addition to more than 30 Chinese, Chinese-American, Hong Kong and Taiwan programs, there will be 28 Korean and Korean-American films, 20 Japanese and Japanese American works, 17 from South Asia, and 20 from Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia. Also offered are music programs and live music performances; a documentary competition, revivals and special screenings.

And yet, as Festival Director Chi-hui Yang and Assistant Director Taro Goto rightly emphasized at the program-announcement press conference Tuesday in Dolby Laboratories, the festival's significance far exceeds its screenings. Going back a quarter century, each Asian American festival brought together directors, actors, scholars, and audiences, further kindling interest, creating partnerships, and resulting in new works, often to be shown at subsequent festivals.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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