First annual Asian Film Fest

By Kerry English
October 23, 2008

kerry english

“Short films are used as calling cards,” Ian Fischer, winner of the best short film award at the first annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, said.

The festival started Thursday, Oct. 9 and concluded Sunday evening with a closing night party at the Asian Arts Initiative located at 1219 Vine St.

The festival celebrated work done by or featuring Asian Americans. The small turnout allowed the people to interact with directors and writers who sat and watched their work and the work of others with the audience.

“Long Distance,” a “dramedy” directed by Nelson Kim, had a running time of 15 minutes. “It came out of a failed attempt at a feature script,” Kim said.

The story followed a man and a woman who had just met that night and decided to go back to the man’s apartment.

The twist is he speaks no Korean and she speaks no English, which leads to awkward moments and misunderstandings.

When the two start to become intimate, the girl gets startled and runs into the bathroom where she phones an ex-love from home. After learning this ex was engaged, the girl leaves the bathroom and decides to make love to the man she had just met.

The two know they can never be together and talk about it in their own languages.

The film ends with the man and woman getting into bed together and falling asleep.

“Passage,” directed by Angela How, was one of the longest short films shown on Sunday. A chance encounter of an American man and Asian woman both living in Los Angeles quickly turns into a romantic relationship.

After six months of dating, the man becomes distant and eventually ends the relationship badly. Once the romance ends, things that seem ordinary begin to fill his head with thoughts of time spent with her.

Dreams and visions of seeing her again begin to haunt him and lead to him meeting a pregnant Asian woman on a train. He is drawn to her because she reminds him of his love that he regrets treating so poorly. In the end, the only thing he is left with is memories of her.

“Since You’ve Been Ong’s,” directed by Frank Chan, follows three friends of Elizabeth Ongs’ throughout their day spent in Chinatown. The film starts with the three friends waiting for Elizabeth so they can start their venture. When Elizabeth doesn’t show and no one can get a hold of her, the group decides to move on without her.

Of the three friends, one is Elizabeth’s boyfriend. Although Elizabeth didn’t show up and no one could reach her, he never seemed to worry about where she could be.

He leaves her a couple of voicemails but for the most part is mellow and enjoying the day.

Another friend of Elizabeth’s is a boy who secretly has feelings for her. From the moment she was a minute late meeting the group, he was on the phone trying to contact her. Upset by her absence, the boy tries his best to enjoy the day but feels left out.

Elizabeth’s third friend she was to meet that day was a girl who seemed to be the most level headed of the whole group. She too leaves many voicemails throughout the day talking about how she is babysitting her boyfriend and how the other boy is uptight and constantly wondering where Elizabeth could be.

“I wanted it to be emotional and biographic in a way that relates to other people,” Chan said. “It was definitely inspired by experiences I’ve had.”

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Kerry English

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