DC’s 21st Annual Asia-Pacific American Film Festival kicks off this week with a completely virtual roster, with the exception of an in-person screening on the closing night at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland.
OMCP’s Jason Fraley presents “The Girl Who Left Home” preview (part 1)
Since 2000, the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival has promoted diversity.
âI watched the industry,â festival director Melissa Bisagni told OMCP. “[Hollywood said] we don’t make movies with various actors because there aren’t enough people to buy tickets, but reports show that has nothing to do with it. â¦ The industry bears responsibility for not sharing stories that are integral to what makes America.
The 21st annual festival kicks off Thursday with a fully virtual roster, with the exception of an in-person screening on the closing night at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland.
âThe festival has undergone a lot of changes, from a popular mom and pop festival at the startâ¦ to a big festival in the early 2000s,â Bisagni said. âCOVID has once again helped us reshape ourselves. We are in the process of rebuilding after the first fully virtual festival of last year.
This year presents 55 films from nine countries, including âAmericanishâ on opening night.
â’Americanish’ is such a wonderful, fun, family movie from Iman Zawahry,â Bisagni said. âIt’s the story of a Pakistani family living in Queens, New York. The three protagonist young sisters and cousins ââtry to make their way in the world, to find out who they are as Americans, while not being too opposed to tradition and custom.
You can also watch the flagship film “Lumpia with a Vengeance” by Patricio Ginelsa.
âIt’s actually a sequel to a movie shot almost 20 years ago,â Bisagni said. âIt’s a funny, comic book-style superhero drama. People who sign up to watch the film will also receive a link to the digital comic that goes along with the film.
Another notable film is the documentary “A Sexplanation” by Alexander Liu.
“About a man, now 36, about his limited sex education and what she expects from him now as an adult, a gay man, a Catholic, trying to figure out what education is Sexuality that I should have had, I could have had, that I hadn’t that left me in that questioning position, âBisagni said.
You can also check out “A Tale of Three Chinatowns” by Lisa Mao and Penny Lee.
âHe’s talking about Chinatowns in Boston, Chicago and our own Chinatown in DC, its history, the people, what’s happening to him,â Bisagni said. “Is it still a Chinatown?” We’re going to have a pre-recorded question-and-answer session with the filmmakers and Ted Gong from the 1882 Foundation.
The closing night film is the musical “The Girl Who Left Home” at the AFI Silver Theater.
âIt’s such a sweet movie,â Bisagni said. âWe’ve had such an explosion of diversity in musical theater from ‘Hamilton’ to ‘In the Heights’. âThe Girl Who Left Home,â you watch the movie and you are amazed at how a fearless young filmmaker can put together such a wonderful cast. “
The film is directed by Mallorie Ortega, who grew up in Germantown, Maryland.
âI went to Northwest High School,â Ortega told the WTO. âFor college, I went to UMBC where my cinema started. I have a double specialization in theatrical and film production. That’s why you have a movie that’s a musical! â¦ I went to USC to do graduate studies in cinema. Because I was no longer in the theater world, I really missed it, so I was like, “I have to do a musical”.
She combined her two passions to write catchy musical numbers.
âWe’re opening with a song called ‘Breaking Through’, it’s so fun, it’ll make you want to dance from your seat,â Ortega said. “One of my favorites is the title [song]. It’s such a powerful ballad and our lead actress Haven Everly her voice is like butter. She can sing anything – and she sings that one in one take, so it’s really exciting.
Its main character has some similarities with Ortega’s own life story.
“She is at the peak of her career [as] a theater artistâ¦ but she suddenly learns that her father has passed away and must return home, âsaid Ortega. âIt’s about chasing your dream; either by fulfilling your family duties or by following your own path. â¦ My parents had a restaurant in Silver Spring [but] none of their daughters wanted to take over!
His family will be beaming with pride as they watch the screening at AFI Silver.
âMany of us are coming,â said Ortega. “We’re probably going to be sold out, so get your tickets soon!”
Find ticket information for AFI Silver here.
Find ticket information for the Virtual Slate here.
OMCP’s Jason Fraley Presents “The Girl Who Left Home” (Part 2)
Listen to our full chat with festival director Melissa Bisagni.
Listen to our full chat with filmmaker Mallorie Ortega.