Unlike San Jose's Cinequest or the recent SF Indie Film Festival, CAAMFest seems to have several movies with the GLBT audience in mind.
The Center for Asian American Media's CAAMFest is the revised and renamed San Francisco International Asian Film Festival and will play in San Francisco and the East Bay March 14-24. I've only started watching some of the movies and for the most part, I am impressed. After I finish them all, I will be sure to report films worth catching. But here's an overview of the GLBT offerings.
In BEIJING FLICKERS, the latest film from controversial filmmaker Zhang Yuan (Little Red Flowers, Beijing Bastards), the displaced youth of Beijing are down and out, but they find solace in a makeshift family – one another. Together a group of unsettled youths, including a transvestite poet, form a community in a beautiful, gritty and poignant film that straddles the thin line between comedy and drama.
Three former high school friends, including one questioning his sexuality, reunite for a long Los Angeles night in Nadine Truong’s bittersweet drama SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW. Truong’s nuanced and incisive film is a new millennium remix of eighties’ ensemble dramas (The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire) that features strong, sincere performances from Hawaii 5-O’s Brian Yang, Eddie Mui and a hilarious performance from Rex Lee, from TV's "Entourage" and "Suburgatory." Their may be too many split screen scenes for my taste, but all-in-all a good film.
LGBT filmmaker Luke Cassady-Dorion's THE CHEER AMBASSADORS is true-life Bring It On, Thai-style: the film tells the incredible story of Bangkok University’s 2011 Cheerleading World Champions. Viewers will marvel at their choreography, energy and jaw-dropping moves as they take Orlando, Florida by storm and tangle with some of the world’s greatest cheer squads.
I did find MEKONG HOTEL a bit hard to follow. It represents a continuation of the unconventional experimentation and dreamlike artistry that has made openly gay filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul an essential figure in world cinema. With a deliberate fusion of documentary and fiction, authenticity and performance and the everyday with the supernatural, MEKONG HOTEL centers on several “characters” as they shift between their “otherworldly” and “real” selves.
Walker, a meditation on the simple pleasures of movement directed by revered and out art-cinema director Tsai Ming-Liang is one of four shorts, each by an acclaimed Asian director, that comprise the omnibus collection BEAUTIFUL 2012, a collaboration between the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society and the Chinese Internet TV company Youku.
Directed by transgender filmmaker Silas Howard (By Hook or By Crook) and gay screenwriter Ernesto Foronda (Better Luck Tomorrow, The Fast and The Furious franchise), SUNSET STORIES follows two ex-lovers, reluctantly reunited to retrieve a lost cooler, in an electric journey across nocturnal Los Angeles. During their journey, the pair encounter several queer Angelenos – most notably famed transgender icon and Tony-nominated singer-songwriter Justin Vivian Bond (Kiki and Herb). This did very well at LA's Outfest last year and is a story worth following.
There's a retrospective of Queer cinema rebel Royston Tan. At the age of twenty-one, he began issuing forth a torrent of provocative films that inspired admiration from critics and condemnation from censors in his native Singapore. This retrospective will include a selection of Tan’s most daring works and will also feature a post-screening conversation between experimental media artist Valerie Soe and Tan himself at the Pacific Film Archive Theater in Berkeley.
The shorts program QUEER CONVERGENCE offers a rollercoaster ride of awkwardness, self-discovery, reflection and humor. With an emphasis on adolescence and music, the films in this program capture the pains and pleasures of being just who you are.
Excluding special events, panels, galas and special screenings, advanced general admission tickets are $12. Students, seniors (65+) and disabled adults are $11 (Limit 1 per program with ID only). Tickets for Center for Asian American Media members are $10 (Limit 2 per program per ID). There is a $1.50 service charge for all tickets purchased online.
To get show times, venues, tickets and additional information, go to www.caamedia.org.