San Diego is a pop culture nirvana, home to a thriving local music scene, a robust
video game industry and, of course, Comic-Con. But one of the region’s most
underrated pop treasures is its diverse film festival market and today marks
the start of one of the best – the annual Asian Film Festival.
The Festival, now in its 13th year, started small with a few films being
screened at a local university campus. Today, it’s a big-party, star-studded
extravaganza that stretches over nine days and takes over most of the Mission
Valley UltraStar Cinemas, its longtime home.
This year, films will also be screened all over the county, at the North Park Birch Theatre, the UCSD Atkinson Hall Auditorium, the Museum of Photographic Arts, Cinepolis and the Hahn University Center at the University of San Diego.
In all, there will be more than 150 films screened from 20 different countries,
not to mention Q&A discussions with film cast and directors. The films have
been separated into different categories – Asia Pop, Asian American Panorama, Discoveries, Extreme, Masters. That assures that there will be something for everyone’s taste.
Here are some of the most promising films:
If you’re into documentaries, check out “Nuclear Nation,” a look at Japan in the
wake of the tsunami-induced disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. There’s
also “The Iran Job”, which follows an African-American basketball player’s
decision to accept an offer to play pro ball in Iran.
For thriller/action fans, there’s “Graceland,” a gritty story about a botched kidnapping that leads a chauffeur into an world of corruption. “Nightfall” follows a veteran police detective hunting a celebrity’s brutal murderer. “Boundary” is about a cab driver who gets more than he bargained for when he picks up a mystery man in the streets of Manila.
Sci-fi fans have “Doomsday Book,” featuring robots, zombies and
the end of the world, and “Young Gun In Time”, about a detective racing against
zany villains to find a time machine.
There’s comedy with “Shanghai Calling,” as a hot-shot attorney from New York City learns about love and life when he visits Shanghai and, “Love Strikes,” the closing-night film about a nerd whose dream comes true and all of a sudden becomes irresistible to women.
And, of course, there’s some martial arts action highlighted by “Five
Fingers of Death,” the legendary film that is celebrating its 40th
anniversary. “Five Fingers” basically jump-started the kung fu genre in the 1970s
and to this day remains a revered film in the eyes of martial arts fans. There
is also “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate,” with Jet Li and Tsui Hark teaming up again, this time for a high-flying, sword-fighting adventure in 3D.
No matter your personal tastes, you’re bound to find something
new and exciting at the Asian Film Festival. Tickets are available at the box
office or online. For more information, go to www.sdaff.org.