More Filipino Films take center spotlight at L.A. Asian Pacific Film Fest 2008
More Filipino Films take center spotlight at L.A. Asian Pacific Film Fest 2008
Fil-Am filmmaker debuts “Sensei” with a World Premiere screening on Sunday, May 4

by Oliver Carnay

More Filipino films are being featured at the ongoing Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival presented by Honda, the largest regional event of its kind featuring Asian cinema. The week-long event, which opened Thursday, May 1 with Academy Award-winning director, Jessica Yu's PING PONG PLAYA and closes with Tony Ayres' HOME SONG STORIES with Joan Chen May 8, will screen over 140 films from more than 17 countries at the prestigious Directors Guild of America and Laemmle's Sunset 5 in West Hollywood through the opening weekend. It shifts venues during the week to the brand new Imaginasian Center in Downtown Los Angeles, the Center for Democracy and closes, as per tradition, at The Japan America Theater in Little Tokyo.

Mirroring the recent accent of Filipino films internationally and the festival's own panel discussion called "The State of Pinoy Independents: An Afternoon with Filipino Independent Film Movers," Filipino films figure quite prominently in this year's selection.

Among the featured films is THE SENSEI, the directorial debut by stuntwoman/actress, Diana Lee Inosanto. Herself a practicing martial artist, Diana Lee is the daughter of famed Filipino American martial artist, Danny Inosanto and is the Goddaughter of the legendary Bruce Lee, one of her father's best friends.

Photo: Fil-Am filmmaker Diana Lee Inosanto debuts her feature film "The Sensei" with a World Premiere at the Directors Guild of America this Sunday, May 4 at 4:00 p.m.

“The Sensei” takes place in a small, conservative town during the rise of the AIDS panic it inspired in communities in the late 1980's. Young McClain is a gay teen that is constantly harassed and ostracized in his provincial town. Karen Nakano-O'Neil, once denied her black belt for being a woman, is haunted by the memories of her fiance, boxer Mark Corey. She returns home, after a five-year absence to make amends with her Asian American family-owners of a successful martial arts business and proud members of their local church. When three teens hospitalize McClain after a near-fatal beating and are then released on bail, Annie, McClain's outraged mother, asks Karen to teach McClain the martial ways. Fearful of small town retaliation and her family's disapproval, Karen agrees to secretly teach McClain, training him at night to protect them both. Reminiscently told in a conversation between the young man, McClain and a Minister, The SENSEI is an examination of the prejudices that allow hatred to continue, and the people that find their own humanity in their darkest hour. It screens on Sunday, May 4, Program 36 at 4:00 p.m. at DGA 1.

"I'm beyond excited; I'm nervous!" said the lifelong Southern California resident. "But, beyond that, thrilled to be making my World Premiere at the LA Asian Pacific Film Fest.

"You can only World Premiere once and the fact that I'm alongside such talented Pinoy filmmakers makes it that much more special," she added. "Besides, I've told all my relatives in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco about it!"

Fil-Am ARTS, the Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture, a longtime collaborator and sister non-profit arts organization with Visual Communications, is onboard again as a community presenter for a bulk of the Filipino programs alongside other staunch community organizations such as Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA).

The 2008 LA Asian Pacific FIlmfest presented by Honda, is produced by Visual Communications, the oldest Asian American media resource center in the nation. For updated schedules and ticket information, interested parties are invited to visit