Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Announces Centerpiece Films and Special Presentations for 35th Festival



MARCH 27, 2019 - The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), presented by Visual Communications, is excited to announce the Centerpiece films and Special Presentations for the 35th edition of the  Film Festival. The celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander films continues throughout the nine day festival, from May 2 through May 10, 2019 with the Los Angeles premieres of a Sundance standout, a SXSW favorite, and a selection of special presentations looking both past and forward in Asian Pacific American film.

The Festival Centerpiece Presentations features two outstanding films: GO BACK TO CHINA and MS. PURPLE from two rising Asian Pacific American filmmaking voices.  GO BACK TO CHINA, directed and written by EMILY TING, is Ting’s second feature film which recently had its World Premiere at SXSW.  Justin Chon returns to LAAPFF after his award-winning film GOOK screened in 2017, with his latest directorial and co-written feature, MS. PURPLE.  The film gathered critical and audience accolades at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it world premiered.

“LAAPFF is one of my favorite Los Angeles events, and I always look forward to attending every year,” stated director/writer Emily Ting. “I was so bummed to miss the festival last year because I was shooting in China. It feels like a full circle to be able to bring GO BACK TO CHINA to the festival a year later. And to have it get selected as the Centerpiece Film is a real unexpected honor. I can’t wait to finally attend my first LAAPFF as a filmmaker and to present this very personal story to the LA Asian American community.”

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GO BACK TO CHINA -  A semi-autobiographical film following spoiled rich girl Sasha Li (Anna Akana), who after blowing through most of her trust fund, is forced by her father (Richard Ng) to go back to China and work for the family toy business. What begins simply as a way to regain financial support soon develops into a life altering journey of self discovery, as Sasha discovers her passion for toy designing and learns to reconnect with her estranged family.  A bittersweet portrait of a fractured family, the film also offers an honest look at the human cost of things that are made in China.

"During my short but long career, LAAPFF has always been an anchor and home to me,” said filmmaker/actor/scribe Justin Chon. “Every time I go to any events involving LAAPFF, I always feel like I’m coming to my Auntie’s living room. I’m ecstatic that my new film MS. PURPLE will be having its LA Premiere here at this festival. I hope my Auntie is proud of me, ESKETIT!"


MS. PURPLE - Partially taking place in the dark karaoke rooms of Los Angeles’s Koreatown stripmalls, Kasie (Tiffany Chu) works as a doumi girl - a young hostess paid to cater to rich businessmen’s capricious whims. As she struggles to hide her sorrow through soju and MDMA-fueled nights, her mind is focused on one thing: earning enough tips to continue providing for her bedridden father. When her father’s caretaker unexpectedly quits, Kasie seeks help from her estranged brother, and the siblings are forced to reconnect and reconcile the suppressed trauma that led to their separation.

Both CENTERPIECE FILMS will be presented on Saturday, May 4th at the Aratani Theatre at the JACCC in Little Tokyo - Downtown Los Angeles with filmmakers and cast in attendance.

LAAPFF is also pleased to present a vast selection of incredible and important SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS that range from a film screening of a restored Philippine film classic; to the celebration of the works from the late award winning actress/filmmaker/community supporter Elizabeth Sung;  to a multi-media creative and cutting-edge music video/performance program defining the current music scene from the Philippines; to a special screening of an important docu about the lives of native transgender women in Tonga and the South Pacific;  to the showcases of the current dynamic works from both emerging younger Asian Pacific American filmmakers and emerging senior filmmakers from Visual Communications(VC).

“Our SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS will highlight important moments in the Asian Pacific and Asian American film diaspora,” said Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications and Director of LAAPFF.  “These are important films, filmmakers, and stories that the Festival is excited to share with all fest-goers. These programs represent the past, present, and future for all of our stories, storytellers, and artists.”

Information on each SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS is below:

OMENG SATANASIA (ABS-CBN Film Restoration) - The restored 1977 cult classic of Philippine Cinema starring the late "King of Comedy," Dolphy, in his award winning, multi-role performance.  A Faustian tale told with equal parts campy surreal fantasy, touching melodrama, and Dolphy's trademark comic mastery. Directed with exuberant experimentation by then first time director Frank Gray Jr.

A TRIBUTE TO ELIZABETH SUNG -  A collection of short films directed by and starring the late award winning actress/filmmaker/community supporter Elizabeth Sung.

Even as she was hard at work carving out a career on both the big and small screen, Elizabeth Sung (1954-2018) actively sought opportunities to transcend her one-dimensional persona as an actress, the better to become an all-encompassing artist and auteur. From her early work with future acting colleagues and an extended career on daytime network soap operas, a pivotal invitation to the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women set the stage for Elizabeth’s development into a multi-hyphenate artist: as actor, director; writer, producer, and even mentor. In this special tribute program, we recognize Elizabeth’s wide-ranging career and, in particular, her impact on generations of Asian Pacific American cinematic and performing talents who would follow her. This program includes:

  • HALF-ASS by Victor Wong Huey

  • REQUIEM by Elizabeth Sung

  • THE WATER GHOST by Elizabeth Sung

  • L.A. COFFIN SCHOOL by Erin Li


A visual mixtape experience featuring against the grain music from the Philippines from artists redefining and reworking the contemporary Filipina/o music landscape. A video companion to the Counterflow: Currents In New Filipina/o Music playlist. The program will take place on Saturday, May 4th at 9pm at the Downtown Independent.

ARMED WITH A CAMERA VOL. 2019  - The Armed With a Camera (AWC) Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists nurtures the next generation of Asian Pacific American artists to capture their world, surroundings and outlook on life. Films from this year’s fellows will be presented on Thursday, May 9th at Regal L.A. Live at 7 PM. The 2019 AWC fellows are Leatrice Ching, Eleanor Cho, Sarah Cho, Varun Chounal, Xin Li, David Liu, Gary Mei, Chris Nguyen, and Isue Shin.

DIGITAL HISTORIES -  Since its creation in 2003, the Digital Histories video production and digital storytelling program for older adults is designed for older generations to create and preserve visual stories to be passed down to younger generations. Their works consist of personal and place-based documentaries and other compelling narratives that contribute to the artistic expression and healthy lifestyles of older adults. Films from this year’s Digital Histories program will screen Sunday, May 5th at 2 PM at the Aratani Theater in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles.

LEITIS IN WAITING -  A raw yet tender portrait of Joey Mataele and the Tonga leitis, an intrepid group of native transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in their South Pacific Kingdom. LEITIS IN WAITING in partnership with PACIFIC ISLANDERS IN COMMUNICATIONS screens on Wednesday, May 8th at 6 PM at Regal L.A. Live.

The Festival recently announced the Opening Night film YELLOW ROSE, directed by Diane Paragas and starring Tony Award winner Lea Salonga and Tony Award nominee Eva Noblezada, that will open the Festival on Thursday, May 2.

LAAPFF will announce its full line up on Monday, April 1, 2019. Visual Communications Member presale ticketing will be available from Monday, April 1st to Friday, April 5th; ticketing for the general public will be available starting Friday, April 5th at 5:00pm PST.

For program information and a complete listing of sponsors and partners, please visit festival.vcmedia.org.


Visual Communications’ mission is to develop and support the voices of Asian American and Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists who empower communities and challenge perspectives. Founded in 1970 with the understanding that media and the arts are powerful forms of storytelling, Visual Communications creates cross cultural connections between peoples and generations. The organization turns 50 in 2020. Learn more at vcmedia.org.


Presented by Visual Communications, the 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) will be on MAY 2 - MAY 10, 2019 at select cinemas in the Los Angeles area. LAAPFF is the premiere showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific American and international cinema. The largest festival of its kind in Southern California, LAAPFF is also a proud Academy Award®-qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards.  For program information, a complete listing of sponsors and partners, and to purchase tickets, please visit festival.vcmedia.org.

The Festival is proud to be partnering with our following screening venues across Los Angeles and Southern California.

  • 341 FSN: 341 E 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

  • Aratani Theatre @ JACCC – Little Tokyo (DTLA): 244 S San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

  • Aratani Central Hall at JANM (Japanese American National Museum): 100 N Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

  • Tateuchi Democracy Forum @ National Center for the Preservation of Democracy: 111 N Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

  • Downtown Independent – Downtown L.A. (DTLA): 251 S Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

  • Pacific Design Center: 8687 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069

  • Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center: 1000 W Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90015

The 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is sponsored by:




Taiwan Academy


City National Bank
Directors Guild of America
Flash Cuts
IW Group
Motion Picture Editors Guild
The Famous Group
Union Bank

JINS Eyewear
LA Philharmonic
Go Little Tokyo
Writers Guild of America West

GOVERNMENT: National Endowment for the Arts; California Arts Council; Dept. of Cultural Affairs; Los Angeles County Arts Commission; City of Los Angeles; HCNC;

FOUNDATION: Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Aratani Foundation; Asian Pacific Community Fund; SAG-AFTRA Producers Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund, KEIRO, Little Tokyo Service Center

MEDIA: Character Media; Angry Asian Man; This Filipino American Life; Potluck Podcast Collective; Pacific Rim Video Press; International Documentary Association; Giant Robot Media

IN KIND: AAAZA; Asahi; Boos Philly; Cafe 86; Cafe Dulce; Chef Isa Fabro; Chef Kryssie Tinsay; Chung Jung One; Creme Caramel; Far Bar; First Street Catering; Found Coffee; GoGo squeeZ; Go Little Tokyo, Harmless Harvest; KIND; LT Vibes; Mark Redito; Meiji; Ninong’s Pastries & Cafe; Oculus; Passion Planner; Primo Water, Simple DCP; Spitz; The Freezin’ Point; The Park’s Finest; YELP

VENUE: Downtown Independent; Japanese American Cultural & Community Center; Japanese American National Museum; Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center; 341 FSN, Pacific Design Center

HOTEL: Hotel Indigo