“Visual Landscapes” is the theme of the 21st Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF). This year’s theme showcases and celebrates the Asian-Canadian cinematic landscape through films that show various perspectives of Canada. VAFF will showcase four days of films produced locally, nationally and internationally from November 2 to 5, 2017.
I’ve attended VAFF for several years now, each year looking for at least 1-2 local or independently produced international films to catch that maybe hard to find at the local Cineplex or on Netflix. VAFF is a great outlet for showcasing some of North America’s Asian-Canadian indie films that will make you laugh, cry, and feel proud of participating in such a diverse film festival.
This year’s VAFF showcases several larger films produced from the US and Asia, starting with November 2nd, opening night of Columbus, which stars John Cho (from Harold & Kumar and Star Trek fame). Opening night’s feature film is being hosted at River Rock Casino Resort, followed by a Casino Royale gala afterwards. The film follows a renowned architectural scholar who suddenly falls ill during a speaking tour. His son, Jin (John Cho) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana, a small town celebrated for its significant modernist buildings.The film explores how space and place can be synonymous with identity and culture.
The Centerpiece film on November 4th features Gook, a US film that follows Eli (Justin Chon from Twilight and 21 and Over) and Daniel (David So), two Korean American brothers who own a struggling show store and have an unlikely friendship with Kamilla (Simone Baker), a streetwise 11-year-old African American girl. With the chaos moving towards them after the Rodney King verdict and LA riots, the trio is forced to defend the store while contemplating the future of their own personal dreams, and the true meaning of family. After the screening of this film, VAFF will be hosting a 90’s Hip Hop themed dance party afterwards!
Of course, the festival is not just full of Asian and American films – half of the content shown are Canadian produced! On opening night, November 2nd, a special We Heart Canada presentation of short films specifically filmed to celebrate Canada 150 will be shown at Cineplex Odeon International Village. On November 3rd, Family Trips and Ties is the Canadian Showcase film, about a family running a B&B fishing lodge in coastal BC. On the last day of VAFF, the schedule is full of Canadian produced documentaries and short films. The closing film is produced by Toronto-based Canadian filmmaker Joyce Wong, Wexford Plaza. Wong’s award-winning dark slice-of-life comedy is based on her memories of growing up in Scarborough, Ontario—isolated and friendless, Betty works as a security guard at a deteriorating strip mall and welcomes an act of random kindness from a makeup salesman, with unintended results.
With four days of jam-packed films to watch, make sure to pick up your tickets in advance or purchase a VAFF VIP pass to attend all the films. You can purchase tickets and find the festival schedule at vaff.org. VAFF is also offering Vancouver Bits & Bites readers a BOGO deal! Enter promo code vaff2017vbb at checkout online or present code at box office to buy one and get one ticket free. (Not valid for opening or closing night screenings.) Bring a friend or date and check out this year’s North American and International Asian films!