Visual Communications will present the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, now in its 32nd year, from April 21 to 28 at theaters around the city. The more than 130 films and programs include the following:
• “QUIETUS,” a program of four short narrative films about death, on April 22 at 9:30 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo. Films include:
“Mitsu-jū” (2015, 25 minutes), directed by Nao Nakazawa, is about the genesis of a monster called Mitsu-jū (secret beast) that consumes people’s secrets. This original story is inspired by Japanese folk stories and set in 16th-century Japan. It follows a female shaman, Shizume, who discovers a dark and violent secret of her feudal lord Tadayoshi. Filmed on location in Nagano with crews from the Bay Area and Japan.
In “Family Bonds” (2015, 20 minutes), directed by Takashi Yamamoto, Shinji and Yuko were a happy couple living in the suburbs until an unspeakable tragedy caused them to grow apart. With a year since this tragedy occurred approaching, the distance between them continues to grow. How will these two face the reality of this tragedy? Only together can they find the answer.
• “GENERATIONS,” a program of shorts about family, on April 24 at 12:30 p.m. at JANM. Films include:
Leandro Tadashi’s “Bá” (2015, 14 minutes), in which little Bruno’s life is turned upside down when his “ba” (from baachan, “grandma” in Japanese) is brought to live in his house. The Japanese Brazilian director shot the film in São Paulo.
• “DIGITAL HISTORIES 2016,” a program of shorts, on April 24 at 2 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo. Films include:
“71° 10’ 21” N (Land of the Northern Star)” (2016, 6 minutes), directed by Fran Ito. “With temperatures in the 40s in the Arctic Zone in the summer, the midnight sun never sets. Journey with me to the North Cape of Norway, the northernmost point in Europe. We will travel via Flam Railway and witness spectacular views of snow-capped fjords and cascading waterfalls — in July.”
“It Ain’t Heaven, But Close ’Nuff” (2016, 7 minute), directed by Michi Tanioka. “I never thought we would ever leave our home of over 45 years, but circumstances change, and we found ourselves moving to a retirement home. There is a sacred aura about this place, and I think living here will add years to our lives!”
“A Time of War, West of Japan, East of Iran” (2016, 9 minutes), directed by Glen Kanemoto. A story unfolds from within a time of contrary and uncertain memories. At the height of the Iran-Iraq War in the late 1980s, families lived daily in fear of enemy bombings and curfew restrictions. Filled with anticipation, each week, viewers awaited “Oshin,” a Japanese TV show set in Meiji-era Japan. A young girl, Shin (“Oshin”) Tanokura, survives and persists, emerging an unlikely heroine for Iranians.
“Fantasy Come True: Peter Lai’s Japanese Village” (2016, 9 minutes), directed by David Osako. An eye-popping dreamscape made real by eccentric Chinese American Japanese antique collector who constructs a fantasyland venue on the edge of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and Arts District. This short film pays a visit to the Japanese Village and its unique and charming proprietor, Peter Lai.
“Torrance Kendo Dojo” (2016, 5 minutes), directed by George Takaki. Discover what goes on in the Torrance Kendo Dojo, a very special place. Is it simply a place where swordsmanship is practiced, or is something else also occurring?
“Not Just Gardening” (2016, 6 minutes), directed by Cathy Uchida. Following World War II, many Japanese American men turned to gardening to support their young, growing families. To most of their wealthy or middle-class customers, they were just gardeners who were employed for their loyalty, work ethics, and artistic flair. Known for their stylized landscapes of manicured lawns, bonsai-like shaped trees, and shrubs, they left an indelible imprint on landscapes across the nation. This is the story of how one generation’s struggle and sacrifice for the sake of their children’s success influenced geo-political and economic ties between America and Japan.
“I Am an American” (2016, 7 minutes), directed by Robert Shoji. Her only crime was being born to Japanese parents in America. Toshiko Shoji Ito discusses some of her Seattle childhood memories and her forced internment to the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.
“Cook It Yourself” (2016, 4 minutes), directed by NJ Nakamura. If you love eating Japanese food, why not make it yourself? From start to finish, a cooking class at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center makes a one-pot meal.
“What Is Little Tokyo?” (2016, 7 minutes), directed by Steve Nagano. The film presents what Little Tokyo means to many who come here — “a serene place,” “a place to drink,” a “second home.” It has survived forced evacuation, eminent domain, redevelopment, and economic downturns. Current issues such as gentrification, rising rents, and changing demographics most certainly will change the identity of Little Tokyo but will it retain linkages to its past and its central role to many Japanese Americans? What can be done to maintain this Japanese American enclave and its character remains to be seen. Nostalgic pasts and wishes for its future are presented to stimulate discussion and encourage involvement to shape this 130-year-old community in the midst of changing demographics in the Japanese American community and greater Los Angeles.
• “VC DIGITAL POSSE, VER. 2016,” a program of shorts, on April 24 at 8 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo. Films include:
“Master of the Sky: The Life and Art of Sam Koji Hale” (2015, 10 minutes), directed by Sumiko Braun. With his epic mythological storytelling, distinct mixed Japanese American aesthetic, and unique blend of live action tabletop puppetry and CGI animation, Sam Koji Hale leads a new generation of puppeteers who embrace film as he brings to fruition his vision and first feature film, “Yamasong: March of the Hollows.”
“Heart of Mind” (2016, 5 minutes), directed by Sumiko Braun. En route to a momentous dinner in downtown L.A., lovebirds Haunani Gordon and William Ellis are held at gunpoint by a thieving madman. What transpires blurs the line between innocent impulse and intimate betrayal, proving to be the ultimate test of love, trust, and expectation.
“Behind the Mask: The Story of Nathan Phuong” (2015, 7 minutes), directed by Kristy Ishii. High school student Nathan Phuong comes home sore every day from his late night lion dance practice with The Immortals. But his hard work and dedication pay off as he learns about his culture, finds community and makes lasting friendships.
• “I GOT YOUR BACK,” a program of shorts, on April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St. Films include:
“Venom Therapy” (2015, 18 minutes), directed by Steven Murashige. Based on a true story, a young family struggles with the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis to their mother and wife, Clara. After hearing of an experimental “healing” treatment for MS sufferers called “bee venom therapy,” they begin administering multiple bee stings to Clara on a daily basis, eventually totaling more than 3,000 stings over 422 grueling days. The story follows the family’s journey with this treatment and the unexpected results it produces.
“Song on Canvas” (2016, 15 minutes), directed by Keo Woolford. After the death of his father, Thomas Song decides to set aside his paint brushes to pursue a more corporate lifestyle. A year passes when he receives a call from his sister, Sarah, informing him that his mother has just passed as well. As Thomas returns home to pay his respects, he is awoken in the middle of the night from an unexpected visitor who reminds him of the importance of following one’s passion. With David Chan, Mark Kosakura, Michael Evans Lopez, Sharon Omi, and Geraldine Uy.
• “WHAT’S IN A NAME,” a program of shorts, on April 25 at 9:15 p.m. at CGV Cinemas 3, 621 S. Western Ave. in Koreatown. Films include:
“In Waiting” (2015, 23 minutes), directed by Atsuko Okatsuka. This documentary tells the story of a Taiwanese mother and daughter whose dynamic resembles comedic duos such as Laurel and Hardy. As they go through their days going to doctor and hair appointments and sharing meals, it becomes apparent that the youngest and third member of the family, the documentarian, will one day have to replace one of the two as the caretaker in-waiting.
“Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides” (2015, 26 minutes), directed by Lucy Craft,Karne Kasmauski and Kathryn Tolbert. A documentary about three Japanese women who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s as war brides of American men. Their recollections are further refracted through the eyes of their Japanese American daughters — a photojournalist, a newspaper editor, and a freelance journalist. Personal photographs and visuals from U.S. archival sources help bring to life this fascinating episode in American history.
• “CONNECT/DISCONNECT,” a program of shorts, on April 25 at 9:15 p.m. at JANM. Films include:
“Sociopath” (2015, 6 minutes), directed by Asai Takeshi. An android helps a girl in need. With her curiosity piqued, the girl follows the android as it shows kindness to various people. In turn, the girl approaches the android to convey “a certain thing.”
“Frozen Expectation” (2015, 26 minutes), directed by Shinichi Kudo. A man goes mad and snatches the body of the woman who was the love his life. Still reeling from the loss and yearning for her to be by his side, he struggles with the complications of this unconcealable reality; he puts her body in cryopreservation. She remains beautiful behind the wall of ice while he ages. With his imminent death approaching, he’s faced with a dilemma that comes with irreversible consequences.
“Aso: Eternal Grassland” (2015, 30 minutes), directed by Hiroshi Iwanaga. Pollution continues to get worse, and the human race faces the last days of the world. One survivor, Tatsu, has managed to survive alongside his robot companion, Kei. Eventually, they arrive in oasis-like lands that are brimming with the sources of life, known as Aso. But they are mysteriously assaulted and lose consciousness…
• “THE UNREADY HERO,” a program of shorts, on April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Downtown Independent. Films include:
“Himiko the Godslayer vs. the Daemon Legion of Azure Dragons” (2015, 6 minutes), directed by Tsukuda Hikaru. In the ancient capital of Kyoto, the guardian gods who protect the four quarters suddenly revolt against human beings. To save the world, a godslayer, Kaguraoka Himiko, takes action. She beats three of them and obtains their power. Eventually, Himiko sets foot in the woods that are home to the strongest guardians, the Azure Dragons.
“Hero Show” (2015, 27 minutes), directed by Takumi Kondo. At a sparsely attended Kiryugaoka amusement park, a cosplay performer continues to perform his hero show at a very low price. Hoping to increase the park’s popularity, our hero and the employees plan a decisive battle with an evil secret society seeking world domination.
“Sumo Road: The Musical” (2015, 25 minutes), directed by Ken Ochiai. Kure, an exchange student from Taiwan, has a hard time fitting in at a Japanese university. Bullied by others because of his weight, he decides to join the sumo team. His spot on the team is put in jeopardy when he is caught trying to cheat. To redeem his name, he must face off against his mentor and the team leader. Along the way, Kure discovers what it truly means to be a sumo – ultimately finding a place where he truly belongs.
• “DAUGHTERS RULE THE WORLD,” a program of shorts, on April 26 at 9:15 p.m. at CGV Cinemas 3. Films include:
“The Lasting Persimmon” (2015, 15 minutes), directed by Kei Chikaura. Risaki is coming back to Yamagata, her country home. There is a seemingly unchanging snowy life for her beloved family and home village — shoveling snow, making pickles, passing bridges covered with snow, and leaving kaki fruits unharvested on the trees.