The first San Diego Asian Film festival is born at the University of San Diego. Organized by a passionate, motley crew, including Lee Ann Kim, Mark Arbitrario, Beth Accomando, Dr. Leeva Chung, James Cho, and Arnold Marquez, the 3-day Festival opened with THE DEBUT and closed with Sundance audience winner, GIRLFIGHT and director Karyn Kusama. True story – organizers built a DIY projection booth two days before opening night. 3500 people attended with appearances by Margaret Cho, Tamlyn Tomita, and Dante Basco.
The Festival was set to begin at Hazard Center two weeks after the terrorist attacks. We opened with AMERICAN CHAI, a South Asian American film set in New York, and closed with Tim Bui's GREEN DRAGON. Sam Chen launched our first all-animation shorts program. The Festival served as catalyst for healing during a time when Americans were fearful of foreigners.
Our first year as an official 501(c)(3), Justin Lin's breakthrough film, BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, opened the Festival with cast and crew after making history at Sundance. Festival programming expands to 115 films, including hit Korean and Japanese features, WATERBOYS, THE PRINCESS BLADE, JSA, and closing night film, MY SASSY GIRL.
Qualcomm becomes the Festival's first Title Sponsor. We opened with U.S. premiere of Bong Joon-Ho's MEMORIES OF MURDER, and closed with Greg Pak's ROBOT STORIES. Just a few weeks before SIDEWAYS hit cinemas, actress Sandra Oh joined us for a screening of her film, LONG LIFE, HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY. Festival hits attendance record of 6,800 in four days.
Dat Phan wins ``Last Comic Standing``, Lisa Ling moved from ``The View`` to ``National Geographic``, and Harlemm Lee wins reality show ``Fame``. All three join the Festival along with Kelly Hu and John Cho, who premiered in HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE. Festival opens with surfer film, THE RIDE, and closes for the first time with a documentary, THE MAGICAL LIFE OF LONG TACK SAM. Premiere of our first Iranian film, SILENCE OF THE SEA, with director Vahid Mousian in attendance.
Festival opened with heartwarming Korean film MARATHO, and closed with sold out screening of Lane Nishikawa’s ONLY THE BRAVE with large cast in attendance. A strong year for Asian American features with Michael Kang’s Sundance film THE MOTEL along with CAVITE by San Diegans Neill Dela Llana and Ian Gamazon, THE GRACE LEE Project, and Alice Wu's SAVING FACE, starring Lynn Chen, Michelle Krusiec. and Joan Chen – who were all in attendance. We also launched our high school documentary training program, REEL VOICES. Festival breaks attendance record once again with 8.900 patrons.
The Festival opens with Ham Tran's epic JOURNEY FROM THE FALL, with the entire cast in attendance, including Kieu Chinh, who receives our lifetime achievement award. Festival closes with ALWAYS: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET, one of our most heartwarming films. A star studded year with appearances by James Kyson Lee, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Roger Fan, and Dustin Nguyen.
MC Hammer makes a huge splash at opening night of Justin Lin's FINISHING THE GAME. Despite repeated attempts, he refuses to battle Lee Ann on the dance floor. Closing night was West Coast premiere of Michael Kang's WEST 32ND. George Takei receives the lifetime achievement award - oh my! 200+ people register for national bone marrow registry thanks to support from Survivor winner, Yul Kwon. Festival breaks Ultrastar Mission Valley's box office records.
We opened with Jessica Yu's PING PONG PLAYA, and closed with ALWAYS 2: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET. Festival launches ``Reel in the Vote`` campaign and registers hundreds of new voters. Actor Soon-Tek Oh receives the lifetime achievement. With the premature passing during the Festival of our Program Director, George Lin, 2008 ends in mourning.
Despite one of the worst recessions in U.S. history, the Festival launches an ambitious 10th season. Doubling in size with support from a 3-year presenting sponsorship by Toyota, the festival expands to two weeks , with 200 films from 20 countries. Festival opens with full house for CHILDREN OF INVENTION, and closes with IP MAN. Blowfish, our live music event, brings out Lyrics Born and Kero One. Special spotlight on North Korea.
Opening Night film, LEGEND OF THE FIST, was smokin'... literally. The projector blew up in the middle of the film, leaving us scrambling to move the screening to another auditorium. Closing night went without a hitch with AU REVIOR TAIPEI with director Arvin Chen in attendance. Premiered our first films from Krygyzstan and Kazakhstan. Special focus this year on transnational adoption. Launched free films at four. Grand jury winner, HOUSE OF SUH. Celebrities galore - with Danny Pudi, Harry Shum, Ellen Wong, and Daniel Dae Kim all in attendance for a panel discussion. Screened our first Apichatpong Weerasethakul film.
Opening night film ALMOST PERFECT brought out one of Asia’s hottest (and most controversial) stars - Edison Chen, along with co-stars Kelly Hu and Ivan Shaw. We awarded Nancy Kwan with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Singer Judith Hill performed a Michael Jackson song at our Gala (from This Is It). Closing Night brought out standing room only crowds for JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI with Q&A with director David Gelb. We also were the first festival to accept Patrick Wang’s IN THE FAMILY, which went on to score an Independent Spirit Award nomination. This was also Artistic Director Mye Hoang’s last year with the organization.
Big year for organization, as we rolled out our new name, Pacific Arts Movement. Brian Hu’s first year as Artistic Director. And our first year at Birch North Park. Opening night rocked the house with DON'T STOP BELIEVIN': EVERYMAN'S JOURNEY with a surprise flash mob. Lifetime honor to Director Chung Chang-Wha with special screening of FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH. Centerpiece film EDEN about human trafficking with lead actress Jamie Chung brought audience to tears and to their feet. Panels included special foodie event at USD with Top Cheftestant Beverly Kim, and Present/Future Summit. It was a year of firsts: our first Taiwanese Film Showcase at UCSD, our first 3D feature with FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE, and a screening of the first-ever Samoan-language film THE ORATOR.
105 unique film screenings, 30 Q&As, 2 panel discussions. The return of Wong Fu to SDAFF, the very festival that inspired them to start their own production company. Festival focus on immigration and transnational family. Opening night with FINDING MR. RIGHT and director from China, Xue Xiaolu drew historic crowds for opening night and closing night at the new downtown library, DOCUMENTED with Jose Antonio Vargas our first undocumented immigrant filmmaker. Centerpiece film WHEN I WALK with director Jason DaSilva, brought audience to tears and their feet (another standing ovation). The festival expanded to the Digital Gym Cinema, the Encinitas Library, and the new Central Library in downtown San Diego.