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2014 San Diego Asian Film Festival

Filipino Films for the 15SDAFF

Posted October 16th, 2014 by erwin in Blog

Since 1988, October has been recognized as Filipino American History Month by the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS). The month of October was selected because the first Filipinos came ashore with Spanish sailors at Morro Bay, CA on October 18, 1587. Over the years here at the San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) we’ve supported some of the best work in Filipino cinema. Last year we screened one of the longest films in the history of SDAFF and we closed the festival last year with Jose Antonio Vargas’ honest, personal story of immigration. 2014 is the 15th anniversary of SDAFF, so allow Brian Hu to explain this year’s crop of Filipino films:

“Only in our selection of Filipino films can you find a 2-foot-9 action star, guys in Power Ranger suits, a mysterious mutant snake man, barbers you can’t mess with, and a coastal town with a fateful appointment with history.” – Brian Hu

We are proud to showcase some of the best Filipino features in years. These films are the noteworthy Filipino films playing in this year’s SDAFF.

Blue Bustamante

Jun Sabayton & Joem Bascon

This film is easily the most fun out of this year’s crop of Filipino films. The story will hit close to home for many overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who leave the Philippines every day for a contract that pays in a distant land away from the islands. We guarantee you’ll never watch a film as heartfelt and poignant about families apart, loneliness in a foreign country, and rocking a Power Rangers costume.

The Search for Weng Weng

Weng Weng at Cannes May 1982 SMALL

The Philippines is home to the shortest action star ever. At 2’9” Weng Weng was kicking ass in Philippines B-cinema and paved the way for another short cultural icon, Dolphy. The documentary digs through footage to piece together the man, myth, and the legend that is Weng Weng. Going through the documentary will spark nostalgia amongst the familiar and take the unfamiliar to an era remembered by most titas and titos.

From What Is Before


Lav Diaz worked his way to becoming the hottest director out of the Philippines, screening his films in spaces like Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival. Last year’s Norte, the End of History was an epic that resembled Crime and Punishment set in Philippine society. This year his latest work, From What Is Before, features a barrio going through mysterious happenings, coinciding with President Marcos declaring martial law in the Philippines. Diaz outdoes Norte’s run time with a run time that is not for the weary– a whopping 5 hours and 38 minutes long.

Anita’s Last Cha Cha


Anita’s Last Cha-Cha unfolds when an older woman, Pilar, comes back into her hometown and stirs up the town, and Anita’s 12 year-old heart. The story’s energy gives life to sweet memories of that first older crush and trying to figure out your own identity. Anita’s Last Cha-Cha brings us the clench of first crushes, sexual awakening, and broken hearts whose pangs are as indelible as adult love. It’s a sweet story, and the one you will likely shed a tear or a smile for.

Barber’s Tales


This is the second film set during the 1970s Marcos regime. Marilou inherits her late-husband’s barber shop in a town where corrupt pro-Marcos local government and communist insurgents are clashing. The unassuming Marilou has to make bold choices with her newly-acquired job in a male-dominated industry, and with the rebellion happening right in her own home.


Suburbanite Still

When I think slacker-comedies, I think of Clerks or Napoleon Dynamite. Suburbanite is neither, but draws from the genre for this generation. Grice (Carlo Chavez) is a college-aged Filipino American desperately avoiding adulthood by scheming to open a hot dog cart, and by finally finishing an action movie “Drug Island” that he and his best friend Diggs (Jeff Jackson) had begun as children. The people in Suburbanite might want to leave the suburbs, but their story keeps you there.

Limited Partnership


Chances are you have not heard of Filipino American Richard Adams and his Australian husband, Tony Sullivan. They were legally married in Colorado in 1975, but when Richard applied for a green card for his husband, the Immigration and Naturalization Service officially called them “faggots” and denied their application. This documentary follows this couple’s story as they filed the first federal lawsuit seeking equal treatment for a same-sex marriage in U.S. history.

Reptilia in Suburbia


Sometime in the 90s in the Philippines, the ugly branch of the family tree moves back into its grandmother’s suburban gated community. Then things start getting weird like the loser dad starts growing pot, the tubby mom has a hot affair, and the teenage son with a skin condition falls in with the wrong crowd. Meanwhile a mad scientist in the neighborhood has grown a weird creature out of his television that seems to be behind a series of dog-nappings.

These are some of the best films in the world, and this is your chance to catch them in San Diego. Brian and his programming team did another excellent job curating the festival for you. I can’t guarantee that these films won’t sell out, but I can guarantee that you will be able to watch these films with the…