Bad Axe Trailer | SDAFF 2022

Halloween may be over, but film lovers will be able to dig into a bowl full of eye-candy this week as the 23rd annual San Diego Asian Film Festival kicks off on Thursday.

“After three years of reimagining our festival, Pac Arts remains committed to sharing the stories of Asia, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders around the world” says Henry Manayan, executive director of the Pacific Arts Movement.

“Through these unique films, we hope to enlighten people’s views of one another by highlighting new cultures and perspectives,” he said. “It is in doing so that we not only transform the hearts and minds of the audience, but build bridges among distant and diverse communities.”

This year’s showcase of Asian and Asian-American cinema will feature 130 films, its biggest collection of movies since before the pandemic in 2019.

They include documentaries that explore complex and moving issues and individuals, a broad range of Asian pop films stretching from comedy to action and a Master’s category of beloved and influential movies. The films bring a wide level of representation, coming from China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Hong Kong, Japan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea.

Among the highlights to watch out for are the opening night showcase, “Bad Axe”, a documentary that explores the immigrant experience by focusing on a Cambodian family’s struggle to survive during the pandemic in a small Michigan town.

Other films of note include “80 Years Later,” which features interviews of two cousins who were sent to internment camps during World War II and “Crossings,” a timely look at the tensions between North and South Korean.

“So many of this year’s films acknowledge the crises of our time, and unlike Hollywood films, they aren’t stuck eternally in a pre-pandemic 2019 tackling issues of social inequality or just learning to fall in love with masks on, these films are quintessentially 2022,” said Brian Hu, the festival’s artistic director.

Indeed, the pandemic and its impact is impossible to ignore. “Nurse Unseen” is a documentary that explores the unsung contributions of Filipino nurses who were on the front lines of the COVID-19 response while being thousands of miles from home.

Movies will be screened in multiple venues, including the UltraStar Mission Valley, the San Diego Natural History Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts and the UCSD Price Center Theater in La Jolla.

Filmgoers will be strongly encouraged to be current on all COVID-19 vaccinations and to test before and during the festival. Masking will also be highly recommended in all theater and lobby spaces.

For information and tickets, visit sdaff.org/2022.


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Ellen Bullock