DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Media Contact: Peter Cavagnaro, pcavagnaro@berkeley.edu, (510) 642-0365

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) Announces its Screening Schedule for the 29th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival


A spotlight on the work of Gurinder Chadha, recent horror films from Malaysia and Thailand, a special conversation with scholar Yunte Huang about Charlie Chan, the latest film from celebrated director Jia Zhang-ke, and several special guest appearances highlight the PFA Theater schedule.

February 10, 2011, Berkeley, CA—
(Download a PDF version of this press release.) The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is honored to host eighteen features from the 29th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival from Friday, March 11 through Saturday, March 19. The offerings at BAM/PFA this year include outstanding films from the United States, Japan, the Philippines, China, Tibet, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Hong Kong. Among the many highlights of this year's screenings are in-person appearances by directors Ian Gamazon (Living in Seduced Circumstances), Lynn True (Summer Pasture), Nelson Walker (Summer Pasture), Yunah Hong (Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words), Jy-Ah Min (M/F Remix), and UC Santa Barbara professor and Charlie Chan scholar Yunte Huang.

Screenings will take place at the PFA Theater, which is located at 2575 Bancroft Way near Bowditch Street, on the southern edge of the UC Berkeley campus. General admission to the screenings is $12 per program. BAM/PFA and CAAM members, and UC Berkeley students are admitted for $10. Tickets for non-UC Berkeley students, seniors, and disabled persons are $11. Advance tickets for programs are available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the BAM/PFA admissions desk, evenings at the PFA Theater Box Office, online at bampfa.berkeley.edu/filmseries, or by telephone at (510) 642-5249. For information about screenings in San Francisco and San Jose, or about purchasing PFA Theater tickets in San Francisco, please visit the SFIAAFF website at caamedia.org.

The festival presentations at the PFA Theater begin on Friday, March 11 with Japanese director Naoki Katô’s Abraxas, the story of Jonen, a former thrash rock singer turned Buddhist monk. Jonen feels compelled to stage his own rock show despite protests from his wife and members of his small-town community who are unable to reconcile these two seemingly contrary interests. Fresh from Sundance, this rich, rewarding, and profoundly moving film affirms peace and happiness within and posits “once a punk rocker, always a punk rocker.” This theme of crisis between the secular and nonsecular is also explored in The Taqwacores, screening on Friday, March 18. Based on Muhammad Knight’s 2003 novel, Eyad Zahra’s energetic debut film follows a straightlaced Pakistani American college student named Yusef as he moves into a house with a motley group fellow Muslims—all of whom embrace taqwacore, the hardcore Muslim-punk scene. As Yusef immerses himself in this community of misfits, his faith is tested by this new subculture and his new group of friends—each of whom represents different strands of Islamic tradition.

On Sunday, March 13, the PFA Theater will host a pair of films that explore two Hollywood figures—one real, one imagined—who had an immeasurable impact on American filmgoers’ perceptions of the Chinese in the first half of the twentieth century. Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words chronicles the life of Wong (1905–1961), the first Asian American actress to appear on Hollywood screens. With revealing commentary from actors, artists, film scholars, and acquaintances of the actress, this documentary dares audiences to imagine the challenges faced by Wong, who had to navigate the prevailing racist and sexist attitudes of her day. Wong’s status as an unconventional Chinese American woman also created barriers for her within her own community. This North American premiere will feature an appearance by the film’s director Yunah Hong. Later, H. Bruce Humberstone’s 1937 mystery Charlie Chan at the Olympics serves as the centerpiece for a discussion about the amiable detective character and his impact on the Western imagination with UC Santa Barbara scholar Yunte Huang. Huang’s remarkable book Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History recounts the history of Chan’s various career incarnations, focusing on the Twentieth-Century Fox films that featured Warner Oland and Keye Luke in the role of Chan. Set at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (where Jesse Owens’s heroic athletic accomplishments undermined Hitler’s case for Aryan supremacy), Charlie Chan at the Olympics is perhaps the most intriguing film of the Oland and Luke era.

On Thursday, March 17 the PFA Theater will play host to the first in a two-film sidebar highlighting the Asian horror genre. The highest-earning film in Thai history, Nonzee Nimibutr’s Nang Nak (1999) is based on a traditional Thai folk legend about a woman whose eternal love for her family binds her to earth even in death. In a rural village, Nak watches as her husband, Mak, goes off to war. A half dead Mak returns to the village a year later to greet his loving wife and newborn child. This reunion does not have a happy ending, however, as his return sets off a series of mysterious and grizzly deaths throughout the village. Celebrated Malaysian director James Lee, best known for introspective works, branches out into more supernatural fare with Histeria. Screening on Saturday, March 19, the film follows six precocious schoolgirls as they pretend to be “possessed” at school. In the process, they accidentally conjure up murderous forces intent on their demise. As playful as it is gruesome, Lee’s Histeria proves rather definitively that the director is a master of multiple forms.

Filmgoers who prefer a more psychological style of terror will find plenty to squirm about with young director Ian Gamazon’s Living In Seduced Circumstances. The story of a pregnant woman who captures and tortures a man who has wronged her, this film traverses an imaginary border into the darkened realm of a fairy tale. As with his much-lauded debut Cavite, Gamazon’s extreme economy burnishes a shopworn story (based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses) with immeasurable disorientation. Gamazon will present his film in person on Saturday, March 12. Another emerging director who has been receiving considerable buzz is Vietnamese director Phan Dang Di. His debut Bi, Don’t Be Afraid! chronicles the adventures of Bi, a six-year-old boy who enjoys playing in an ice factory and among wild grass along the river. As a result of his escapades and his burgeoning relationship with his ill grandfather, Bi slowly uncovers the mysterious secrets—and sexuality—of adults in his family. Winner of two International Critics Week’s prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, this is a delicately understated film that will linger in filmgoers’ psyches for years. It screens on Sunday, March 13.

Moving from emerging to more established directors, PFA Theater will play host to the latest film by Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke, who has been described by NPR as “one of the most important filmmakers in the world today.” A hybrid of documentary and fiction, I Wish I Knew is an ambitious and expansive survey of Shanghai’s history as told by its citizens, filmmakers, and artists, ranging from painter Chen Danqing to controversial blogger Han Han. Jia’s film follows the development of the city and its people, crafting a portrait of modern-day Shanghai. I Wish I Knew screens on Tuesday, March 15. Fans of South Korean director Jeon Kyu-hwan will have much to celebrate on Thursday, March 17 with the North American premiere of Dance Town. The final installment in Jeon’s Town trilogy, this strikingly effective and dark political allegory follows Jung-rim a happily married North Korean professional table tennis player. When her neighbors discover that she has been hoarding contraband, including South Korean skin creams and adult videos (gifts from her husband), Jung-rim is forced to South Korean where a wholly different and strange life awaits her.

As part of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival’s spotlight on the work of Gurinda Chadha, on Saturday, March 19, the PFA Theater will feature the director’s 2002 international smash Bend It Like Beckham. The coming-of-age story of a British teen who aspires to play organized soccer with the boys’ team despite the consternation of her conservative Sikh parents, this is a seamless and ebullient mash-up of the best elements of British comedies, Bollywood, and classic sports films. As in all of her films, Chadha presents a rich portrait of cultural and generational conflicts with vividly drawn characters celebrating the triumph of the spirit, while still affirming the deep-seated importance of familial bonds.

A full list of times and titles for screenings at the PFA Theater is included below. For program notes on these screenings, please visit bampfa.berkeley.edu/filmseries. The festival schedule and program notes will be live on the BAM/PFA website on February 17, 2011.

Pacific Film Archive Theater
2575 Bancroft Way near Bowditch Street
University of California, Berkeley
510.642.1412 /

Media Contact:
Peter Cavagnaro:
pcavagnaro@berkeley.edu or (510) 642-0365

29th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival:
Screenings at PFA Theater

A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media

Screening time, film title (Original language title, country, year of production), director
Friday, March 11
7:00 pm: Abraxas (Japan, 2010), Naoki Katô.
9:20 pm: Break Up Club (Hong Kong, 2010), Barbara Wong

Saturday March 12
4:00 pm: Summer Pasture (U.S./China/Tibet, 2010), Lynn True and Nelson Walker
* Lynn True and Nelson Walker in person
6:30 pm: The Piano in a Factory (China, 2010), Zhang Meng
9:00 pm: Living In Seduced Circumstances (U.S./Philippines, 2010), Ian Gamazon
*Ian Gamazon in person

Sunday March 13
3:30 pm: Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words (U.S./South Korea, 2010), Yunah Hong
Preceded by the short film Slaying the Dragon Reloaded (Elaine Kim, U.S., 2010)
*Yunah Hong and Elaine Kim in person
6:00 pm: Charlie Chan at the Olympics (U.S. 1937), H. Bruce Humberstone
*Professor Yunte Huang in person
8:00 pm: Bi, Don’t Be Afraid (Vietnam/France/Germany, 2010), Phan Dang Di

Tuesday March 15
7:00 pm: I Wish I Knew (China/Netherlands, 2010), Jia Zhang-ke

Wednesday March 16
7:00 pm: M/F Remix (U.S., 2010), Jy-Ah Min
*Jy-Ah Min in person
9:00 pm: Sampaguita, National Flower (Philippines, 2010), Frances Xavier Pasion

Thursday March 17
7:00 pm: Dance Town (South Korea, 2010), Jeon Kyu-hwan
9:00 pm: After Dark/Horror Retro: Nang Nak (Thailand, 1999), Nonzee Nimibutr

Friday March 18
7:00 pm: Passion (Mongolia, 2010) Byamba Sakhya
8:45 pm: The Taqwacores (U.S./Pakistan, 2010), Eyad Zahra

Saturday March 19
4:00 pm: Bend It Like Beckham (U.K., 2002), Gurinder Chadha
6:10 pm: The Imperialists Are Still Alive! (U.S., 2010), Zeina Durra
8:00 pm: After Death/Horror Retro: Histeria (Malaysia, 2009), James Lee

General admission: $12
BAM/PFA and CAAM members, seniors, students, and disabled persons: $10