Lights, Camera, Festival!
The smell of hot buttered popcorn and Junior Mints wafts through the carpeted halls. A few stray kernels mark the trail between the concession and the darkened cinema with its rows of plush red seats. People wander into the theatre intent on slipping into a world that is not their own for the next 98 minutes. Their excited chatter fades as the first flash of light roars onto the screen.
Every fall, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival features four days of films from both seasoned and emerging talent in the Asian-Canadian film industry. Founded in 1996, the not-for-profit festival has since expanded to include international filmmakers of Asian descent.
The 2008 festival, which ran from November 6th to 9th, and features over 40 films, was, without a doubt, a success. Among the films shown were Ping Pong Playa, a comedy written and directed by Academy Award winner Jessica Yu, and West 32nd, a crime drama starring John Cho and Vancouver’s own Grace Park.
The festival provides excellent exposure for independent filmmakers. Director Justin Lin attended the first festival in 1997 with his film Shopping for Fangs, and later wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Better Luck Tomorrow. He went on to direct the Hollywood blockbuster The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift an its sequel, Fast & Furious.
On its most basic level, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival tells a story just like the films that it presents. It is about the way a culture combines its past and present in a whirlwind of creative frenzy resulting in some of the most innovative, hilarious and vibrant films of a generation.