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International Southeast Asian Film Festival comes to San Francisco

If you’re in the Bay Area between November 20th-22nd, the “must-see” event is the I-SEA Film Fest (International Southeast Asian Film Festival) which will highlight an amazing selection of films from across Southeast Asia and the US. The films will be shown at New People Cinema, with an opening night gala at Artists’ Television Access.

The timing for this film festival is important because this year marks the 40th anniversary for many of the Southeast Asian nations whose conflicts came to an end in 1975. This festival provides an opportunity for the community to highlight the history, identity and imaginative work of those who feel ties to Southeast Asia. The selected films are sure to create a much-needed dialogue with local and international communities, “drawing connections between wars then and now, overseas and on our streets,” according to the organizers. California is home to the largest number of refugees from Southeast Asia in the US.

There will be 9 feature films and 22 short films that examine modernity, modern love, sexuality, and how we search for our identities. For Lao the particular films of interest will include a showing of the ghost story Chanthaly by Mattie Do, the first Lao woman director.

chanthaly 2

The 2014 drama Vientiane in Love is also being screened and is an excellent example of the emerging Lao New Wave cinema. A new entry we’d be looking out for is Route 3 which is described as a surrealist and ethnographic short film about a newly completed highway in Laos. Idrissou Mora-Kpai‘s Indochina: Traces of a Mother also promises to be a very powerful film.

Overall, the festival looks like it has an excellent mix of award-winning directors, emerging film-makers, experimental shorts, and documentaries. Some of the films will have Q&A sessions with the film-makers and other panelists.

Lao American poet Bryan Thao Worra will also be presenting during the Opening Night Gala as part of Ways of Seeing: People and Places of South East Asia. This is a multi-screen interactive presentation curated by Ina Adele Ray and co-presented by Stephen Gong from the Center for Asian American Media, Memories to Light. Artists Television Access is located at 992 Valencia St. in San Francsco. The gala begins at 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm.

This event is being brought to you by the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN). DVAN’s aim is to promote artists from the Vietnamese Diaspora whose work in literature, visual art, film and performance art enriches our communities and strengthens ties between Vietnamese across the globe. They hold cultural events, exhibits and publications that explore connections between art and society.

NEW PEOPLE is a 20,000-sqft entertainment complex which promotes the latest examples of Japanese popular culture expressed though film, art, fashion, and various events. Located in the heart of historical San Francisco’s Japantown since 2009, NEW PEOPLE has become a unique must-see attraction of the city’s cultural landscape.


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