HIGHLIGHTS & VIDEOS: June 2022 Festival

Showcase of the best FILMS in the world today.

Audience Award Winners:
Best Short Film: WAX AND WANE
Best Direction: LIN
Best Performances: FINDING VEGA

Watch the Audience Feedback Video for each film:

LIN, 12min., USA, Drama

Directed by Lillian Xuege Li
How can a woman become herself when she has been shaped and taught to sacrifice for the gaze of others? Lin (Lan Zhong) has many roles — a mother, a wife, a waitress, an immigrant. She is also a woman with a secret who finally decides to quietly rebel.

WATCH HERE – The audience feedback video of the film!

CLICK HERE and see full info and more pics of the film!


FINDING VEGA, 22min., USA, Drama

Directed by Xuetong Joey Zhao
A coming of age story of a 12-year-old Asian girl who wants to realize her self-worth, experiences a collision of reality and realizes what is important.

WATCH HERE – The audience feedback video of the film!

CLICK HERE and see full info and more pics of the film!


WAX AND WANE, 15min., USA, Drama

Directed by Beidi Wang
At the dawn of Mid-Autumn Day, when secluded immigrant Wu Sui is urged to remove her birth control ring implanted twenty years ago under China’s One Child Policy, she decides to keep the emergency surgery a secret, but reuniting with her family forces her to reckon with her wounded past. Starring Mardy Ma (CHANG CAN DUNK).

WATCH HERE – The audience feedback video of the film!

CLICK HERE and see full info and more pics of the film!


Short Film: WAX AND WANE, 15min., USA, Drama

Directed by Beidi Wang
At the dawn of Mid-Autumn Day, when secluded immigrant Wu Sui is urged to remove her birth control ring implanted twenty years ago under China’s One Child Policy, she decides to keep the emergency surgery a secret, but reuniting with her family forces her to reckon with her wounded past. Starring Mardy Ma (CHANG CAN DUNK).

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

Project Links

Director Biography – Beidi Wang

Originally from Beijing, China, Beidi grew up as a single child in the hub of theatre and television. She was a child news reporter in CCTV-14, a Chinese national broadcast, and a child actor starring in sitcoms on national television.

Beidi studied Journalism at University of Oregon and graduated from University of Southern California’s MFA program in 2021, specializing in directing/producing. Her works were sponsored by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Film Independent and KCET, which have been screened and awarded at Asian Film Festival, FILMETS Badalona Film Festival, Independent Shorts Award, Nowness Asia, etc. Beidi is interested in making modernist films discovering underrepresented East Asian female stories. She believes in any innovative cinematic experience that will rejuvenate movie-making to a new era.

Director Statement

This story is inspired by true events from my own life. Due to the international customs’ shutdown between China and the U.S, my parents and I had quarantined in three different countries in 2020. The family diaspora has prolonged for decades did not make anything new. During the pandemic, my mother had the surgery to remove the birth control ring, which was inserted in her uterus since the One Child Policy in the 90s China; however, she hiding the surgery from me and my father caused a commotion in me. Her perfectly upright and stoical bearing shuttered my heart, and distanced her from her closest loved ones.

It started by a rare online group chat with three of us together. My mom and dad had been fighting for a while because of the long-term separation. It was a tense conversation with me caught in between them. On the road, Mom said she had to hang up. Dad asked her where she was going. After an odd long pause, she said it was her own business. My mother can barely keep secrets, but for the first time she excluded her agenda from me and my father, in a rare sense of dismissal. A few days afterward, she told me she went for the surgery to take out the ring, and she had been living with menopause for a year, as if telling me that was the most trivial thing in her life. Her insensitiveness shook me. I started to imagine what it would be like, to put an end on a woman’s fertility on her own; I started to imagine the unspoken parts – over the years she has raised me, the only child, and the whole family, which seemed to be all she has.

The grumpiness and hot temper as a typical Asian mother make her hard to approach. She could start a fight with every irrelevant person she came across, a passenger on the subway or a restaurant server. I never asked why because I thought that’s how moms were, unreasonably angry and hard-shelled. I was annoyed by her desensitization. I wanted her to tell me all her soul rusted carrying that grievance, how the device deprives her of being a woman, to make her feel scraped, hurt in her spine, gave her physical pain. But again, she won’t let her guard down in front of me.

When I thought it was me overestimating the whole issue, I started to look online for traces of evidence. From 1980 to 2014, according to official statistics, 324 million Chinese women were fitted with birth control rings. Unlike most of the contraceptive devices as today’s IUD, birth controls rings prevailing at the time were made of stainless steel, which were designed to inhibit fertilization for a lifetime. Many tragic cases unveil– inflammations, physical rejection reactions, uterine perforations, permanent mental and physical traumas. With that added context, my mother started to tell me more stories, about women around her who had been through the similar journey but with more severe results. It is surely not uncommon, and I am more assured this story has to be told in urgency.

Nevertheless, my question of what makes my mother today is still unsolved. Why does she always seem so insurmountable? She was born working class and not any less privileged than most of the Chinese women at her age. Why is she so adamant to admit the pain? My ignorance drove me too far away from understanding, so I made the decision to play the character of the daughter, Laura, in the film. In practicing this experiment, I would like to know how the director acting in one’s personal story would make a difference. To stay the closest to my experience with my mother may demystify my confusions and indignation to the whole subject matter.

Forging ahead with this bold idea, we captured the film with a great amount of sincerest moments. I granted the leading actress Mardy Ma (Chang Can Dunk/Only the Moon Stands Still), playing the mother, a lot of opportunities to improvise in a natural setup of the scenes. She would talk to my mother over the phone to exchange thoughts, and I would share memories with her restoring the dynamics between my mom and I. The cinematographer Melanie Grams molded the picture in a naturalistic non-invasive way. In the surgery scene where Wu Sui laid on the bed with her legs opened, the whole crew burst into tears. With the crew composed by 90 percent Asian female filmmakers, the nostalgic atmosphere transcended the story itself, because in the end it all reminded us of our own mothers.

Embedded with a journalistic spirit and some experimental thoughts, we made the film with delicacy and truthfulness. The social phenomenon has been very prevalent in my generation, with 15 million only-child families, where the absent fathers work far away and children leave home after 18. A solitary mother living on her own is a normalcy taken for granted. These Chinese women who abided by the One Child Policy had no choice but to swallow the pain. They can’t see the mandate to insert an unwanted device in their bodies as wrong or inhumane, because there were no actions to take. When they have to grapple with the past to take out the ring, they only think of it as their own embarrassment, a hidden public shame.

What makes my mother who she is today won’t change for a singular event. She and many others shushed their own discomforts in order to give and care. I cannot change that. At the very least, in my version of the story, in the eve of a Mid-Autumn Day, when the moon has waxed and waned and finally come full circle, when families should rejoin after distant travels, Wu Sui says that she can “let it go.” But I can’t.

Short Film: FINDING VEGA, 22min., USA, Drama

Directed by Xuetong Joey Zhao
A coming of age story of a 12-year-old Asian girl who wants to realize her self-worth, experiences a collision of reality and realizes what is important.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

Project Links

Director Biography – Xuetong Joey Zhao

Born and raised in China, and having graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, Joey Zhao is an award-winning director, funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council to study at American Film Institute as a 2019 Directing fellow. In 2022, she has been selected as the finalist of Hillman Grad Indeed Rising Voices program.
Joey has a breadth of experience, including working with renowned director Emir Kusturica. Her narrative short, In the Silence, was selected for dozens of film festivals worldwide; it was then exhibited throughout China.
Breathing a mixture of Eastern and Western culture and inspired by animation and magic realism, she uses the malleable medium of film to focus on social issues. She always puts a spotlight on minorities and explores themes of death and family. Joey aims to create art that voices the complex nuances of culture, gender, and ethnicity through visceral imagery.

Director Statement

After I flew for twelve hours to the dry climate of Los Angeles in the autumn of 2019, my nose started to bleed severely during the first shoot in AFI, and I was sent to the emergency room. I passed out and had a transient loss of consciousness, and I felt like I was continuously falling to a bottomless black hole. It was so dark and deep; all I could feel was that I wouldn’t remember anything that happened in my life before. It was for the first time I was so close to death.
Then I had a tough time during the one-year-quarantine since March 2020, experiencing an intimate friend’s death, and undergoing the darkest hour in life, as I felt further-away from home than I ever had before. During this time, I thought a lot about life and death extensively. I had this vision of rowing a small boat, lonely, on the endless sea surrounded by danger, and the only light was the stars above. To me, those stars were family affection. There is a Chinese saying that says, “You can’t know about life without knowing death.” I didn’t realize what I had and how blessed I was in terms of my parents’ love until I was faced with my friend’s and my mortality.
I always wonder what if we could find the time we lost? What if we could regain the warmth and beauty that we buried deep in our minds? And I discovered that Eastern philosophy and Western science make this possible on the screen. As an individual, what responsibilities do you need to take towards the ones loving you or the ones you love? And what are the “invisible” larger group social issues behind the superficial dilemma?
In this era of speed and consumerism, many people are used to talking about the intangible macroscopic world, but seldom observe the daily minute details around them. Still, it is precisely the trivial bits that determine the temperature of life. Especially after experiencing so many deaths and losses worldwide, how will human beings evolve? As a storyteller, I want my audience to think about what is most important to them in life. I strive for them to feel love and be in love and treasure what they have from the womb to the grave.

Short Film: LIN, 12min., USA, Drama

Directed by Lillian Xuege Li
How can a woman become herself when she has been shaped and taught to sacrifice for the gaze of others? Lin (Lan Zhong) has many roles — a mother, a wife, a waitress, an immigrant. She is also a woman with a secret who finally decides to quietly rebel.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

Director Biography – Lillian Xuege Li

Lillian Xuege Li is a Chinese filmmaker living in New York. She graduated with a BFA degree in Graphic Design from Pratt Institute and a MA degree in Media Studies from The New School. Now working as an independent filmmaker and a freelance director, producer, editor and videographer, her mission is to create socially engaging narratives with technical virtuosity and artistic integrity to explore the topics of race, culture, gender and humanity.

Director Statement

“Lin” is a fiction short film that I shot during my last year of grad school. As a first-generation Chinese immigrant living in New York, I found myself in constant struggle with my identity that is shaped by my social roles as a woman, a minority, a foreigner, a subordinate and an object of gaze, as well as by my cultural upbringing that values endurance, obedience and sacrifice. There are so many women like “Lin” who struggle internally and externally and long for the courage to break free. This story is about a woman named Lin who decides to rebel against the role that she is forced into and finally becomes herself.

SCREENPLAY MOVIE: In Jade Moonlight, by Craig Stewart

In 1936, on the eve of the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, an American doctor, aided by a beautiful courtesan, searches for his missing brother. Their quest takes them on an idyllic river journey of ancient Buddhist temples, and a befriended Buddhist monk gives his blessings to their endeavor. But for their mission to succeed they must escape the underworld of Shanghai. And a poignant conclusion awaits their affair.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Hannah Ehman
Yuli: Kyana Teresa
Chun: Steve Rizzo

ASIAN Festival 1st Scene Reading: CHEESY, by Nathan Allen, Yun Joo Sang

JANE SONG, a brilliant and proud Korean cheesemaker, is heartbroken when her excellent but funky cheeses fail in her home country. Bankrupt, she closes her creamery and is so traumatized by failure that she can no longer suffer her lifelong passion, making cheese. But when an untimely death whisks her to Seoul, her budding romance with a passionate cheesemonger forces her to confront her trauma and rediscover her form in this ode to failure, renewal, and our universal love for the stinkiest art.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Val Cole
Jane: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Crooner/Ajusshi/Server: Geoff Mays
Anna: Hannah Ehman

HIGHLIGHTS & VIDEOS: April 2022 Festival

Showcase of the best FILMS in the world today.

Audience Award Winners:
BEST FILM: AN ISLAND DRIFTS
BEST DIRECTION: ARGENT GLASS
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: THE CLOWN’S FUNERAL
BEST SOUND & MUSIC: BAMBOO

Watch the Audience Feedback Video for each film:

AN ISLAND DRIFTS, 18min., Singapore, Drama

Directed by Vivian Ip

Set in Singapore, a young teacher presses for the truth from a maladjusted student, the act leads to devastating results and they suffer the ignominy of losing everything that matters to them. The story holds a mirror up to society, where a mistake can derail a life in an overly pressurized world.

WATCH HERE – The audience feedback video of the film!

CLICK HERE and see full info and more pics of the film!


THE CLOWN’S FUNERAL, 22min., Japan, Drama

Directed by Yu Shibuya, Showgo Ookawa

When his father, the former president of a funeral parlor was taken ill six months ago, the man, who as a child was forbidden to laugh, had to take his father’s place. However, recently something strange has come over the new director. Whenever he sees something funny, he hallucinates a clown.

WATCH HERE – The audience feedback video of the film!

CLICK HERE and see full info and more pics of the film!


BAMBOO, 6min., USA, Drama

Directed by Harrison G Kwong

A wealthy and jaded Asian American man comes face to face with his immigrant, poor doppleganger.

WATCH HERE – The audience feedback video of the film!

CLICK HERE and see full info and more pics of the film!


ARGENT GLASS, 4min., Japan, Music Video

Directed by Katsuyuki Nakanishi

In Honmoku, Yokohama, a guy (Shinsuke Kato) is chasing his dream of becoming famous while performing live, but it is not coming true. One day, he breaks his cherished silver glass, and after gathering up the shards, he goes to …

WATCH HERE – The audience feedback video of the film!

CLICK HERE and see full info and more pics of the film!


Music Video: ARGENT GLASS, 4min., Japan

Directed by Katsuyuki Nakanishi
In Honmoku, Yokohama, a guy (Shinsuke Kato) is chasing his dream of becoming famous while performing live, but it is not coming true. One day, he breaks his cherished silver glass, and after gathering up the shards, he goes to …

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

Project Links

Director Biography

Born in Aichi, Japan in 1984, I studied at the Vantan Visual Institute of film director in Tokyo. I gained my first experience in the lighting assistant at Toei Kyoto Studio under the lighting director such as Kiyoto Ando and Takashi Sugimoto. I also worked on several samurai movies. I was in charge as a lighting director for Shinya Tsukamoto’s ‘Killing’, and later chose to become a director.

Director Statement

Glass is easily broken by any external impact. But if you collect the shards and melt them, you can remake it over and over again. However, the exact same glass cannot be made again.