APA Film Festival
This year, the 10th Annual Houston Asian Pacific American Film Festival, hosted by OCA Greater Houston Chapter, is underway with a wide array of independent films premiering at different venues across the metropolitan area. The APA Film Festival screens breathtaking documentaries, comedies, and dramas all celebrating and discussing Asian culture and themes, not limited to western Asia. Several South Asian films, such as, “American Made” by Sharat Raju, and Houston based, “Sunny Square” by Hammad Rizvi have also garnered attention at the festival.
At the screening on June 21st at Brilliart Films, APA premiered “Delano Manongs” by Marissa Aroy, and presented by the Japanese American Citizens League, “Pilgrimage” by Tadashi Nakamura and “Honor & Sacrifice” by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers. The final film premiered was “Someone I Used to Know” by Nadine Truong with guest speakers, film-maker Tadashi Nakamura and actor Brian Yang, best known for his role as Charlie Fong from Hawaii Five-0.
Coordinator, Gee-Wey Yue, remains optimistic about the positive influence the film festival fosters for the Asian community of Houston, regardless whether the community is Indian, Filipino, Japanese or Chinese. Yue believes Houston is the best city, in terms of diversity, to host a film festival such as APA. The best part about the festival is the interaction that the audience can have with filmmakers, producers, directors, or even actors thanks to OCA involvement in bringing these prestigious figures for a Q&A.
The documentaries were breathtaking and eloquently produced to depict history lessons often not found in class. “Delano Manongs” renders an accurate story about Larry Itliong, the Filipino leader of the farm migrant workers who struggled fighting for their rights alongside the outspoken Cesar Chavez. Aroy’s documentary revives Itliong as a hero and shines light on a historical figure lost in the shadows of Chavez’ movement with the Mexican American community. Gary Nakamura, president of JACL, introduced Tadashi Nakamura’s refreshing documentary, “Pilgrimage,” on the United State’s unfortunate concentration camps for the Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the younger generation of Japanese American’s conflict on identity and preservation of the infamous site in California.
“Honor & Sacrifice” details the Matsumoto families’ involvement in WWII on both the Japanese and American sides. The rare story covers Hiroshi (Roy) Matsumoto’s life and exceptional education in the United States and in Japan and his crucial role fighting as translator for the Americans in Burma. The final film portrayed, “Someone I Used to Know,” starring Brian Yang revolves around three childhood friends and the modern hassles of identity as topics such as interracial relationships and drugs and alcohol arise as central conflicts causing friction between all key protagonists. The film unfortunately, lacked flow and consistency, with Nadine Truong usage of awkward split screens and a lack of crucial character development for the many intermingling plots of the film.
All films from the festival can be purchased on APA Film’s official website. The festival is worth the time to attend as the coordinators make the atmosphere as friendly and approachable as possible, always welcoming the opportunity to share and educate about the Asian culture.
Catalina Campos is a recent graduate of the University of Houston receiving her B.S. in English Literature with a minor in India Studies. She has previously worked at Free Press Houston, UH’s official radio station, and a literary press and aspires to one day work for a Condé Nast publication. Catalina is set to depart to Germany shortly as a participant of the prestigious Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals continuing her studies at a German university and hopefully interning for Condé Nast Deutschland.