Film Reviews

Cultural Celluloid

You'd think a couple of film festivals with overlapping content would be at odds, but the six-year-old Asian Pacific Film Festival of Florida (APFFF) has coexisted peacefully as part of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) while hosting its own periodic screenings of movies by Pacific Rim filmmakers. In terms of filling the foreign-film void in South Florida, the situation is a plus not only for cineastes but also for festival organizers.

“We were delighted when they came into being, because we think some of the most provocative and visually stunning films are coming out of Asia,” says Gregory von Hausch, FLIFF president. “We can only dedicate so much of our program to any one component, and that didn't allow us to cover Asian film as comprehensively as it deserves.”

The APFFF started out as the Hollywood Asian Film Festival in 1995 with a City of Hollywood grant to the Asian American Federation of Florida.

“I love movies, so I decided to join [the federation],” recalls Chinese native and Plantation resident Beryl Williams, who's now APFFF president. The city grant lasted just one year, and the festival struggled to stay afloat for a couple of years before becoming a nonprofit under its current moniker. It's grown into a larger part of the FLIFF every year and will present two weeks of films in October.

Until then the group plans to screen one movie per month at the renovated Vinnette Carroll Theater in Fort Lauderdale, which is run by the FLIFF and was recently dubbed the Cinema Paradiso. APFFF's first offering there is Red River Valley, a 1999 historical epic about the British invasion of Tibet at the turn of the last century. The film also captures Tibet's ancient religious flavor against awe-inspiring scenic panoramas, and a love triangle and plenty of graphic violence figure in as well. Guess we know now what von Hausch meant about Asian film being provocative and stunning.

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John Ferri