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Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust
Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust

The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) returns for the 37th edition of the Festival taking place from September 23 to October 2, 2021. Due to COVID, the festival will be a hybrid event, taking place both virtually and in person at select cinemas.

The Festival will open on Thursday, September 23 at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles with the Los Angeles premiere of Ann Kaneko’s Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, a poetic look at the unexpected alliance formed by Native Americans, Japanese American WWII incarcerees, and environmentalists to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.

Following Opening Night, LAAPFF will showcase new works as part of Centerpiece Weekend at the Aratani Theatre and Regal L.A. LIVE. Highlights include the Los Angeles premieres of: Iman Zawahry’s Americanish, the first American Muslim rom-com directed by an American Muslim female filmmaker; Sujata Day’s comedy-drama Definition Please, which she also stars in; Christopher Makoto Yogi’s Sundance hit I Was a Simple Man, starring Constance Wu; Dante Basco’s directorial debut The Fabulous Filipino Brothers; and Suzanne Kai’s long awaited crowdpleaser from Tribeca, Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres, about the legendary Rolling Stone editor and writer Ben Fong-Torres.

LAAPFF is an Academy Award-qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. Recipient(s) of the Film Festival’s Golden Reel Award for Narrative Short Film will be eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film/Live-Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards®. Some highlights from the shorts lineup include the World Premiere presentations of: Candace Ho’s Chasing Clouds, a narrative short about a Taiwanese American woman forced to confront the harsh reality of her mother’s dementia; Paolo Bitanga’s Night & Day, a documentary short from the Philippines about a mother′s home that comes alive once a year when her many children return for the holidays; and Dakota Camacho’s Fana’guyan, a short dance film that explores ending violence and generating healing through embodiment, intimacy, and ancestral creativity. Fana’guyan will screen as part of Pacific Cinewaves, programming which represents LAAPFF’s commitment to amplify Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities from Hawai’i, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Guåhan (Guam), Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Samoa, and throughout the Pacific region.

Established in 1983, LAAPFF presented annually by Visual Communications (VC), is the largest festival of its kind in Southern California, and the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific cinema.

Visual Communications continues their partnership with HBO for the fifth annual HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries, a short film competition which showcases cinematic storytellers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. The finalists were selected from hundreds of submissions and were judged by a distinguished panel of HBO executives, industry leaders and fellow APA filmmakers. The three winning films exemplified this year’s competition theme: “Taking the Lead.” Jess X. Snow’s Little Sky, Jesse Gi’s NEH, and Urvashi Pathania’s Unmothered will premiere at LAAPFF on September 25, and debut on HBO Max on September 27.

“Visual Communications looks forward to sharing the stories that intersect and converge movements such as Manzanar, Diverted,” says Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications. “From emerging to established filmmakers, the Festival continues to celebrate artists who are making an impact in our communities.”

This year, the Festival will also continue to host C3, a space for creators to converge and celebrate creative communities. These consist of both virtual and in-person panels and conversations.

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