The Austin Asian American Film Festival will screen a selection of 2018’s best Asian and Asian American films during Feminine Identities: A Winter Showcase, at AFS Cinema from Nov. 6-14. With AAAFF’s 11th festival moving to June 2019, this showcase ensures that the Austin community has the chance to see two documentaries and two narrative features from this year’s most influential North American film festivals.
Each film in this showcase explores various facets of Asian female identity. CAAMFest Centerpiece Documentary and Audience Award winner “Origin Story,” opens the festival on Nov. 6. Slamdance Official Selection “Fish Bones” screens Nov. 7. “Nailed It” screens Nov. 13. Finally, Cannes Best Screenplay winner and TIFF/NYFF official selection “3 Faces” closes the festival on Nov. 14.
Directors Kulap Vilaysack (“Origin Story”) and Adele Free Pham (“Nailed It”) will attend the showcase in person for discussions following their films, and director Joanne Mony Park (“Fish Bones”) will join for a post-film Skype Q&A on Nov. 7.
“We’re unbelievably excited to showcase these four films this year,” said Jenny Nulf, AAAFF Director of Programming. “Three of our films are directed by Asian American women, and our international title is a female-driven narrative that explores three generations of performers. The slate organically came to us, and we’re so proud to have such a diverse, beautiful showcase of talent from all over America and Asia.”
“Origin Story” -Tuesday Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. In the search for her biological father, comedian-writer-podcaster Kulap Vilaysack (“Bajillion Dollar Propertie$,” “Who Charted?”) turns the camera on herself in an emotional quest of self-discovery. Vilaysack confronts a complicated family history that looks back into her parents’ survival during the Secret War in Laos and their immigration to the United States. She revisits her childhood in Minnesota and travels to Laos to find the biological father she never knew. Vilaysack described making ORIGIN STORY as “my way to break this cycle of trauma.” Marking her feature-length directorial debut, Vilaysack combines animation, family photos, and emotional conversations to create an intimate journey through memory, family, and Laotian American identity. Balancing humor with heartbreak, “Origin Story” invites viewers to take part in a tale that is both uniquely personal and universally human.
“Fish Bones” – Wednesday, Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m. “Fish Bones” is an incredible debut about a young woman, Hana (played by Joony Kim), who is striving to find her own identity in a traditionally conservative family. Hana’s heart is torn in half when she meets Nico (Cris Gris), a stunning Latina music producer. This forces her to balance taking care of her ill mother, helping with the family restaurant, and exploring a new, exciting relationship. Park’s sensual experimental narrative is a slow and methodical film, plunging the viewer into an experience of fragmented memories that coalesce into a powerful ending.
“Nailed It” – Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. Filmmaker Adele Pham explores her own mixed-race identity while discovering the origins of how Vietnamese Americans have become synonymous with nail salons in the U.S. “Nailed It” dives into the 80 billion dollar nail industry, from the humble beginnings of MANTRAP, the first Vietnamese nail salon to open in a predominantly African American neighborhood, to the future of the industry and how many Vietnamese nail salons are elevating the game.
“3 Faces” – Wednesday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. Winner of the Best Screenplay Award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, this road movie portrays acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi (“The White Balloon,” “Taxi,” “This Is Not a Film”) and renowned Iranian actress Behnaz Jafari (“The Chalkboard,” “Mokhtarnameh”) traveling to a rural village to find a distraught young girl whose family has forbidden her from studying acting. Both the mystery and the journey evolves into a calm yet profound exploration of tradition, patriarchy and female identity over generations within Iranian society.
All films in Feminine Identities: A Winter Showcase will screen at AFS Cinema (6259 Middle Fiskville Rd.). Tickets and more information about the showcase available at aaafilmfest.org.