Visual Communication’s 37th annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) announces complete line-up of films slated from September 23 through October 2, 2021

By Oliver Carnay

Visual Communications (VC) has announced the complete line-up for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), now on its 37th edition, set to take place from September 23 through October 2, 2021.

Ticketing for the general public will be available starting Monday, September 13, 2021 at 12:00pm PT.  For complete program information, please visit

There will be over 139 films during the 10 day Festival which will be in-person events at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s Aratani Theatre, the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at the Japanese American National Museum, and the Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center.

On October 1, LAAPFF kicks off Filipinx American History Month with a curated selection of films by Filipinx filmmakers, including:

The Encore Presentation of Mallorie Ortega’s THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME, the award-winning musical about a young Filipina on the brink of Hollywood stardom, who is pulled back into her past life and family obligations.  The cast boasts charming performances from Emy Coligado (CTRL), Paolo Montalban (CINDERELLA), and Haven Everly.  The film made its world premiere during the 2020 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where Ortega won an Emerging Filmmaker Award.

The Los Angeles Premiere of Dante Basco’s directorial debut THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS, which he also stars in and co-wrote alongside his siblings.  Told in four unique vignettes, this film is a romantic comedy following four Filipino American brothers and their lovers in the events leading up to a controversial Filipino wedding.

The West Coast Premiere of ISLANDS, the SXSW award-winning film by Martin Edralin.  Starring Rogelio Balagtas, who won Special Jury Mention at SXSW, the film follows a shy middle-aged Filipino immigrant, who has lived in the comfort of his parents’ home his entire life.  As their health declines, he longs for a partner, terrified of being alone after they pass.

The World Premiere of Randal Kamradt’s NO DOGS, set against the backdrop of the Watsonville race riots that set Central California ablaze in 1930.

The largest festival of its kind in Southern California, LAAPFF is also a proud Academy Award® -qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. LAAPFF’s programming hopes to mobilize and engage audiences towards social activism and civic engagement, a cornerstone that is part of the Festival’s foundation. This year’s productions by Asian & Pacific Islander artists from around the world amplify themes that include race, immigration, gentrification, economic security, and more.


Among the feature films highlighting the festival are the following:

The World Premiere of SILENT RIVER, from director Chris Chan Lee (YELLOW).

The Los Angeles premiere of Jeff Mizushima’s WHO IS LUN*NA MENOH?, which follows the life and work of the extraordinary Japanese artist, Lun*na Menoh.  From her early career in Japan to the underground music scene in L.A., her uniquely individual artistic career and expressionism are explored.

The Special Presentation of LIST OF A LIFETIME, directed by Roxy Shih, an alumnus of Visual Communications’ Armed With a Camera Fellowship. Starring Kelly Hu (FINDING OHANA), Sylvia Kwan (GREY’S ANATOMY), Patricia Velasquez (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT), Jane Sibbett (FRIENDS), and Shannen Doherty (CHARMED), the film follows a woman diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, who is determined to track down the daughter she gave up for adoption. LIST OF A LIFETIME will have its world broadcast premiere on Sunday, October 10th at 8pm on Lifetime.
The West Coast Premiere of Kazem Mollaie’s THE BADGER, a powerful narrative from Iran.  The film begins right before a woman’s second marriage, when her 11-year-old son is kidnapped. Starring Iranian actress Vishka Asayesh, this film explores the unspoken challenges faced by a family on the verge of new beginnings.
The West Coast Premiere of Bee Thiam Tan’s TIONG BAHRU SOCIAL CLUB, a comedic odyssey from Singapore that takes you through the Tiong Bahru Social Club, a data-driven project to create the happiest neighbourhood in the world.
The Los Angeles Premiere of Patricio Ginelsa’s LUMPIA WITH A VENGEANCE, a nostalgic follow-up to Ginelsa’s directorial debut LUMPIA in 2003. The action-packed comedy, starring April Absynth, MMA artist Mark Muñoz, and Danny Trejo (MACHETE), made its world premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.
The Los Angeles Premiere of Oscar® winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s latest film THE RESCUE, a thrilling look at the 2018 rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped deep inside a flooded cave.
Fresh from winning the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary and the Albert Maysles Award for Best First Documentary Feature at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, Jessica Kingdon’s ASCENSION will make its Los Angeles Premiere at LAAPFF, in collaboration with MTV Documentary Films. The film examines the contemporary “Chinese Dream” through staggering observations of labor, consumerism, and wealth.
Following its screening at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, Evan Jackson Leong’s narrative debut SNAKEHEAD will make its Los Angeles Premiere ahead of a nationwide release from Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Attractions. Set in New York’s Chinatown, the crime thriller follows a woman’s rise in the international underworld of human smuggling, and stars Shuya Chang, Sung Kang, and Jade Wu.

LAAPFF is proud to debut the works from Visual Communications’ Digital Histories program, designed for Asian & Pacific Islander older adults to use their unique voices and perspectives to share stories with the generations to come. Since its creation in 2003, Digital Histories has provided a professional and artistic work environment for underserved, ethnic-minority seniors. This year, Digital Histories will debut non-fiction works that feature immigration histories, unique artist profiles, and more. The 2021 Digital Histories films include: DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN (dir. George Wada), DO YOU LOVE ME? (dir. Teresa Matsushima), EYE OF THE NEEDLE (dir. Joe Virata), KAERU (dir. Don Bannai), PUTTING THEM WHERE THEY COULD DO NO HARM (dir. Steve Nagano), FRAN (dir. Robert Shoji), EATING TAMALES WITH CHOPSTICKS (dir. Jeff Chop), LAURIE LEWIS – “MANZANAR” (dir. Jeff Chop), PAPER SON (dir. Patty Fong), THE CONVERSATION (dir. Joe Virata), and YEAR OF THE PLAGUE (dir. Fran Ito).


Visual Communications founded the Armed With a Camera (AWC) Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists to develop the next generation of Asian & Pacific Islander artists and connect communities through the power of storytelling. The Fellowship boasts alumni including Christopher Yogi (I WAS A SIMPLE MAN), Erin Li (KEPLER X-47, currently on Amazon Prime Video’s Etheria), and Roxy Shih (LIST OF A LIFETIME). This year, LAAPFF will host encore presentations of the 2020 Armed With a Camera films: AFTERIMAGES (dir. Bryan Sih), A CURE FOR ALL THINGS (dir. Katherine Chou), BACK TO THE SOURCE (dir. Sandra Carbonell-Kiamtia), COFFEE TALKING OUT OF COFFINS (dir. NamQuyen Le), CRASHING WHEELS ON CONCRETE (dir. So Young Shelly Yo), ETA (dir. Justin Ricafort), HERSELVES (dir. Kristy Choi), HOME (dir. King Lu), MANGO BABY (dir. Serena Violet Hodges), and THANK YOU, COME AGAIN (dir. Nirav Bhakta).

Ticketing for the general public will be available starting Monday, September 13, 2021 at 12:00pm PT.  For complete program information, please visit