Movie News & Reviews

New Pan Asian festival adds to Sacramento film landscape

A sauce factory in Rosemead is featured in “Sriracha,” part of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Film Festival.
A sauce factory in Rosemead is featured in “Sriracha,” part of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Into an already-robust array of local film festivals comes the Sacramento Asian Pacific Film Festival, which holds its inaugural event May 29-30.

The event, capping National Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, will host more than 15 hours of Asian Pacific films, stories and performances at the Guild Theater.

Within the Asian Pacific theme, the festival offers variety with Friday’s screening of the martial arts spoof “Kung Phooey!” at one end of the spectrum. Saturday’s showing of the documentary “Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the World War II Internment Camps” is at the other.

Jason Jong, the event’s lead organizer, acknowledged that other Sacramento film festivals already program Asian films.

“There are a number of wonderful festivals in Sacramento. We hoped to be in that mix and not compete,” said Jong, an arts program specialist at the California Arts Council.

Mike Testa of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau said that having diverse film festivals throughout the year is a good thing. “Generally, if these type of events are spread out through the year, there is an attentive audience,” he said.

The Sacramento International Film Festival has showcased international Asian cinema since 2002, according its website, and the Sacramento Japanese Film Festival is scheduled for mid-July.

Jong said the Sacramento Asian Pacific Film Festival will offer a broader array of films highlighting Asian Americans. He also said the new festival and the organization behind it, the Sacramento Asian Pacific Cultural Village, are intended to make a sustained impact on the community.

“The film festival is not just going to be about film in the future,” Jong said, explaining that he hopes it will celebrate culinary arts, music, theater and poetry. He also hopes it will build support for a future Pan Asian center.

Jong, 41, grew up in Sacramento and attended Kennedy High School, but after years in San Francisco he was envious of that city’s strong Pan Asian community groups.

“Our community does not engage with each other enough,” he said of Sacramento. “I want my kids to have this awareness of other cultures. It blew my mind that we didn’t have a Pan Asian center.”

This will be the first multiday festival by the group, which has previously hosted two one-off screenings.

Written and directed by Sacramento native Darryl Fong, “Kung Phooey!” headlines Friday’s comedy slate. The film relentlessly pokes fun at kung-fu film conventions. While the film first screened in 2003, this is believed to be the Sacramento theatrical premiere.

An animation slate leads off Saturday morning, highlighted by a screening of “Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.” Midday is a food-related program and the documentary “Sriracha.”

Other documentaries continue into the evening, led by “Hidden Legacy,” which looks at the efforts to practice traditional performing arts in U.S. internment camps during WWII. To complement the film, live performances are scheduled by Sacramento biwa (Japanese lute) master Molly Kimura and a Bay Area mother-and-son koto duo, Shirley Muramoto-Wong and Brian Mitsuhiro Wong.

The two-day event concludes in the evening with a slate of six films selected from an open-submission process, “The Other Side,” “South Paw,” “Jasmine,” “Wedlocked,” “I Dreamt of You” and “Live, Breathe, Hula.”

Jong said he was “blown away” by the number of submissions even though the festival is in its first year.

2015 Sacramento Asian Pacific Film Festival

  • What: Two days of films highlighting works, talents and culture of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans
  • When: 4:30-9:30 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: The Guild Theater, 2828 35th St., Sacramento
  • Cost: Single screenings $10-$15; full-festival pass: $40-$60
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