Movie Magazine International

Sixteenth Annual Internation Asian-American Film Festival (II)

Special Report By Andrea Chase

The 16th Annual International Asian-American Film Festival offers up an outstanding collection of documentaries and a slate of short films that are well worth checking out.

Renee Tajima-Pena ponders how effectively the melting pot can assimilate Asian-American's by hitting the road in her documentary "My America or Honk If You Love Buddha." The title lets you know from the get go that this is a documentary not afraid to put its tongue in its cheek while making a serious point. Prepare to be startled, outraged and deeply moved.

"MSG" is a hit-and-miss collection of short films exploring the foibles of Asian men in love. My favorite was Richard Kim's "Kung Pao Chicken," about a chef's love affair with his favorite food and the lengths to which it drives him.

There's no place for humor in three intense short films grouped under the program title "Global exchange." The first, "We Are Not Beggars," by Wen-Jie Qin shows a little known aspect of contemporary urban life in China - street children with no homes and little hope but with surprising reserves of determination.

"Strange Spirit" is an unflinching look at the brutal Chinese occupation of Tibet and the Chinese government's continuing program to destroy not just the Tibetan nation, but, worse, any trace of Tibetan culture.

The third, Maria-Louisa Mendonca's "Indonesia: One Struggle, One Change" shows the human price Indonesia paid for its economic boom.

This year's festival also features two seminars of special interest to budding filmmakers. "An Afternoon with independents & PBS" is a panel discussion by PBS insiders as well as independent filmmakers. "Dramatic Roundtable" features directors from this year's festival, topics include, what to do when you've made your film and now you're flat broke. Both are free.

The 16th Annual International Asian-American Film Festival runs from March 5th to March 12th. For more information, call (415) 255-4300 or access the website at

© 1998 - Andrea Chase - Air Date: 3/4/98

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