John Cho stars in the LAAPFF Audience Award Winning film SEARCHING - directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Photo Courtesy of Screen Gems
John Cho stars in the LAAPFF Audience Award Winning film SEARCHING – directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Photo Courtesy of Screen Gems

The 34th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) came to a close this past weekend and announced their audience awards for best films at this year’s film extravaganza that began on May 3 and ended on May 12, 2018.

The thriller, mystery film “SEARCHING” – directed by first time feature filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty – won the LAAPFF Audience Award for Outstanding North American Narrative Feature Film. The film, starring John Cho and Debra Messing, was a double award winner at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, as well. Audiences at LAAPFF were impressed by the cast, the screenplay, and the direction of the film that centered on a father’s search for his missing teenage daughter and has to turn to the Internet to try and find her. Audiences were abuzz about the film throughout the eight-day festival. “SEARCHING” will open nationally in August in theaters through Screen Gems.

The personal documentary “MINDING THE GAP” – directed by Bing Liu – won the LAAPFF Audience Award for Outstanding North American Documentary Feature. Audiences were moved by the filmmaker’s intimate story of three friends who come of age in their twenties and have to face growing up and possibly giving up their skateboarding days. The film also won the LAAPFF Special Jury Prize for Best Director and was an award winner at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, as well.

In the International Narrative Feature category, the LAAPFF Audience Award went to “IN THE LIFE OF MUSIC” – directed by Caylee So and Visal Sok – for telling a powerful inter-generational tale that explores love, war, and a family’s relationship to the song Champa Battambang, made famous by Sinn Sisamouth, the King of Cambodian music. The film depicts the lives of people whose world is inevitably transformed by the emergence of the Khmer Rouge. The film also won the LAAPFF Special Jury Prize for Best Director in the International Narrative Feature category.

In the International Documentary Feature category, the audience gave the award to “LATE LIFE: THE CHIEN-MING WANG STORY” – directed by Frank W. Chen. This moving film chronicles the life of Taiwanese pro-baseball player Chien-Ming Wang, who was once so dominating on the mound that he was named New York Yankees’ starting pitcher for the inaugural game at New Yankee Stadium in 2009. But after a terrible ankle injury, Wang’s pitches lost their effectiveness, and he soon fell off major league rosters. LATE LIFE follows Wang through his grueling workout routines and unglamorous minor league pit stops as he mounts his remarkable comeback. He is helped along the way by his loyal agent, trainers, Yankees fans, and his family, creating a de-facto support network that keeps him going.

2018 LAAPFF AUDIENCE AWARD WINNERS

NORTH AMERICAN NARRATIVE FEATURE

SEARCHING
Directed by Aneesh Chaganty

NORTH AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

MINDING THE GAP
Directed by Bing Liu

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE FEATURE

IN THE LIFE OF MUSIC
Directed by Caylee So and Visal Sok

INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

LATE LIFE: THE CHIEN-MING WANG STORY
Directed by Frank W. Chen

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