The 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) shines a light on the country of Taiwan, presenting the very best in Taiwanese cinema and showcasing all its diversity in genres and peoples that make this island nation one of the most unique countries in Asia.
This year, LAAPFF is honored to present two award winning feature films — Heather Tsui’s directorial debut LONG TIME NO SEA, and Malaysian born Wi Ding Ho’s CITIES OF LAST THINGS.
Inspired by her personal experiences and involvement with an aboriginal tribe of Taiwan island, Heather Tsui’s debut LONG TIME NO SEA follows themes of indigenous identity and family traditions. The dance troupe, in real life, has won national awards and has been invited to perform both nationally and internationally. What is captured on screen truly makes Taiwan a true Asian melting pot, bridging the indigenous cultures with Chinese and everything in-between, creating a unique and compelling voice that presents Taiwan as a bridge of Chinese and Pacific Islanders.
From its striking opening image of a man hurling himself to his death from an apartment building, Wi Ding Ho’s CITIES OF LAST THINGS, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the juried Platform award, is an engrossing, evocative tripartite character portrait told in reverse, working back from the Taiwan of the near future to the recent past. It’s a stylish sci-fi noir as if directed by an amalgam of Wong Kar-wai, Jia Zhang-ke and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, with neon-lit alleyways and a humid dreaminess that captures the balmy climes of Taipei nights.
The common thread of these two films is one that is cross-cultural — with LONG TIME NO SEA, its indigenous identity and the legacy of the Yami people and with CITIES OF LAST THINGS, it is Taipei as a way station for lost souls from around the world, much like the seminal BLADERUNNER.
In addition to these two features, this year’s spotlight also highlights the works of emerging filmmakers from the Taiwanese diaspora, a record five short films, the most Taiwanese shorts presented in one festival edition: MAMA PINGPONG SOCIAL CLUB by Shiang An Chuang, THE VISIT by Roxy Shih, GENTLEMAN SPA by Yu Jhi-han, MERRY-GO-ROUND by Ray Wu, and I CAN’T BRING YOU AWAY by Li-Wei Lin. As LAAPFF is an Academy Award®-qualifying festival for Short Film Awards, short films at the Festival get special recognition and serve as a barometer for the next generation of successful filmmakers.
These films are screening on the following days: