Five Films Not to Miss at the Austin Asian American Film Festival
A long weekend of movies defined by global possibilities at AAAFF
Asian cinema isn't one cinema, and the returning Austin Asian American Film Festival (June 23-26) reflects that diversity. In its broad remit, there are fantastical stories from China and cutting-edge social media dramas from the Kurdish diaspora, as well as a multiplicity of films that reflect the endless varieties of experiences of being Asian American, from indie comedies to true-crime documentaries.
Dealing With Dad
Families, right? Corporate go-getter Margaret (Dear White People's Ally Maki) is thrust back into all the drama when she and her siblings end up back home after their dad starts refusing to get out of bed. Writer/director Tom Huang's wry, lo-fi comedy opens up the festival. Thu., June 23, 7:30pm
A New Old Play
Qiu Jiongjiong's epic and fantastical depiction of five decades of Chinese history. Sichuan opera clown Qiu Fu (Yi Sicheng) looks back on his life and the midcentury turmoil that changed an ancient nation forever, all from the dreamlike, metaphorical perspective of his afterlife in the underworld. Fri., June 24, 8:05pm
Liquor Store Dreams
In the supposed land of opportunities, your parents' homeland can still be a factor in the career choices presented: So it is with Korean migrants in Los Angeles, many of whom ended up running liquor stores because it was a job open to migrants. So Yun Um follows up on her short, "Liquor Store Babies," with a portrait of her family's business on Skid Row, and its history as both neighborhood institution and sometime target of violence in a primarily Black neighborhood. Sat., June 25, 6:30pm
Free Chol Soo Lee
The injustice against Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee – imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit – led to massive public outrcy and, finally, his retrial acquittal. But the divide between the persona created by the campaign and the reality of this deeply flawed man is explored in this documentary that questions simplistic ideas of good and bad. Sun., June 26, 6pm
Director Kurdwin Ayub has described this year's closing night film as definitely not your typical "girl in a veil" drama. Instead, she looks at the complexity of one's personal culture through the intimate story of a young Austrian woman (Maya Wopienka) navigating both her identity as the child of Kurdish migrants and unexpected social media fame after a video she shoots with friends goes viral. Sun., June 26, 8:30pm
Austin Asian American Film Festival, June 23-26. All screenings at AFS Cinema, 6406 N. I-35 #3100. Tickets and passes at aaafilmfest.org.