LAFF 2015: Winners!

The 2015 edition of the Los Angeles Film Festival concluded today with the screening of the winning films! The winners were announced yesterday with "POCHA (Manifest Destiny)", directed by Michael Dwyer, taking the highly coveted top Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature Film!

"POCHA (Manifest Destiny)"
Audience Award Winner - Best Fiction Feature Film
The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature Film was shared by two two films: "I Am Thalente", directed by Natalie Johns, and "Be Here Now", directed by Lilibet Foster.

The Audience Award for Best Short Film went to "In Her Place", directed by Kevin Hamedani and the Audience Award for Best Web Series went to "The Genderton Project", directed by Anna Martemucci and Victor Quinaz.

The Winning Films

U.S. Fiction Award | Takeshi Fukunaga for "Out of My Hand"

World Fiction Award | Beata Gårdeler for "Flocken".

Documentary Award | Mo-Young Jin for "My Love, Don’t Cross That River"

LA Muse Award | Delila Vallot for "Can You Dig This"

Nightfall Award | Viet Nguyen for "Crush the Skull"

Zeitgeist Award | Bradley Kaplan for "Stealing Cars"

Best Short Fiction | Tian Guan for "Drama"

Best Short Documentary | Kareem Tabsch for "Dolphin Lover"

Special Awards

Documentary Jury Special Mention | Holly Morris and Anne Bogart for "The Babushkas of Chernobyl"

World Fiction Jury Special Mentions | (Shared) Vladimir Tumaev for "White Moss" & Sara Blecher for "Ayanda and the Mechanic"

Nightfall Jury Special Mention | Miguel Llansó for "Crumbs"

Zeitgeist Jury Special Mention | Michael Dwyer and co-director by Kaitlin McLaughlin for "Pocha (Manifest Destiny)"

LA Muse Jury Special Mention | Elsa Biedermann for her role as a supporting actress in "French Dirty", directed by Wade Allain-Marcus and Jesse Allain-Marcus.

Special Jury “High Five” |Michael Rousselet, Tomm Jacobsen, Jon Salmon and Joey Scoma for "Dude Bro Party Massacre III"

Raymond Lo

Tribute: "Brian's Song" (1971 and 2001 Versions)

I have only recently discovered the fun of watching movies on Netflix. I have been watching De Sica's old movies and have spent most nights with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni - they are just so cute together! 

And for some reason, I put the 2001 film "Brian's Song" in my instant queue. I have not seen this film nor the original 1971 film before but I have always heard of the movie and how really sad it was. I first learned about it more than two decades ago when I first read Doris Lund's heartbreaking book about her son's valiant fight against cancer. That book called "Eric" is one of my all time favorites. I have read it many times over the years and I always end up like a baby crying uncontrollably while leafing through the last pages of the book. 

Some reviews that accompany that book's jacket have compared Eric's story with that of Brian Piccolo whose own tragic demise at a very young age was the subject of a huge tearjerker that made all of America cry in early '70s. Since then, I have always wanted to watch it but I just couldn't get a copy.

And finally there was Netflix.

So, there I was tonight, feeling unsure of what to do after having the entire day working on some "work-related" stuff. Game 5 of the NBA Finals was over and the shows on TV were mostly a bore. So i switched on my blu-ray and decided to watch a movie before I go to bed. I wanted to finish "Grace of Monaco", the Nicole Kidman film that I started watching two nights before but just couldn't finish (It was boring, yes) but for some strange reason I decided to watch "Brian's Song." I selected the 2001 version because it was first in my queue.

And I was a wreck! I am the type who really likes tearjerkers when the story and the storytelling are done right. And this one just shattered me. It was not that the story surprised me, I knew all along how it will end, but I I still couldn't help myself but be won over by the powerful story of the friendship between Brian and Gale Sayers and Brian's beaming personality - his courage and candidness and sense of humor were effective in bringing out the dramatic theme of the film. The performances by leads Mekhi Pfifer as Gale and Sean Maher as Brian were both impressive and it made the movie even much sadder.

As soon as the movie ended, I quickly searched for the 1971 version starring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams and I decided to watch it too. Both movies are identical except for the cast and a few iterations on the dialogues and a few added scenes in the 2001 version.

After watching both films, I was still not over with Brian Piccolo. I decided to google him and get to know him more and the disease that he had. Now comes the strangest part of my story. As i was reading through the Wikipedia entry on his life, I discovered that his death anniversary is in 2 days from today. On June 16th, he would be gone for 45 years now. I had goosebumps. 

I know it's just a coincidence and I don't want to think that something, someone, some spirit had been nudging me to watch the film.

But here's another strange thing. Because i get obsessed with the movies and the actors that I like, I googled Sean Maher, the actor who excellently portrayed Brian in the 2001 film and I wouldn't have been able to guess what I would find out. Sean and I share the same birthday! April 16! He's a year older than me but I just find that's just so strange.

So here I am, blogging after midnight when I should have been already in bed.

To Brian, on your 45th death anniversary, I would like to offer my prayers for you and to thank you for the gift that your life's story has been to us -- you may have died very young but your memory and the legacy of your very short life shall outlive all of us. May the Lord bless your soul always. Good night.


LAFF 2015: 3 Must-See Films: "Fan Girl", "In the Treetops", "The Confines"

This year's edition of the Los Angeles Film Festival is in full swing. The festival opened Wednesday, June 10, with Paul Weitz's "Grandma". The full festival line-up is here:

But here are three films that you just could not, should not miss!

Los Angeles Premiere | Special Screening

FAN GIRL introduces Telulah Farrow (Kiernan Shipka), a 15 year-old ironic cool girl who has two obsessions in life: pop punk music and making films. With just a few short days to come up with a killer final film project that could bring festival fame, Telulah gets a once in a lifetime chance to see her music idols in concert. She hatches a plan to bring her passions together, accompanied by smart mouthed wing-girl Jamie (Kara Hayward), and underachieving, over-energetic film class partner Darvan (newcomer Joshua Boone). Pop punk band "All Time Low" appears in the film and provides much of the soundtrack.

FAN GIRL is the feature-directing debut of rising indie producer Paul Jarrett (THE MAID'S ROOM, WEAKNESS). This is the second feature from writer Gina O’Brien, whose Sundance premiere ONCE MORE WITH FEELING was produced by Jarrett. Prior to her screenwriting career, O’Brien was a journalist and magazine editor in New York City. The script for FAN GIRL was loosely based on experiences with her own teenage daughter.

FAN GIRL stars Kiernan Shipka (“Mad Men”), Kara Hayward (MOONRISE KINGDOM), Meg Ryan (SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE), Josh Boone, Nicole Coulon, and Beanie Feldstein. Directed by Paul Jarret. Written by Gina O’Brien. The film is executive produced by O’Brien and Jonathan Gray, and produced by Jarrett, Nick Huston, and Adam Spielberg in association with Rosetta Films, Filament Productions and Literally Films.

FAN GIRL will screen at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival on Monday, June 15 at 6:00PM in Regal 11.

World Premiere | Nightfall

THE CONFINES is a claustrophobic thriller that follows a troubled young woman who, in a last-ditch effort at getting her life together, takes a job working nights as a security guard at an abandoned luxury apartment building. Stuck with a brusque rent-a-cop as her partner, she struggles to keep her mind from playing tricks on her while she patrols the empty halls. But as the night progresses strange things begin to happen - and she realizes it may not all be in her head.

Making his directorial debut, Eytan Rockway deftly constructs a tense thriller that blurs the lines between illness and reality to mirror the traumatized psyche of the protagonist, delivering a potent message about the power of our perception.

THE CONFINES stars Jason Patric, Louisa Krause, and Mark Margolis. Directed by Eytan Rockaway and written by Ido Fluk. Cinematography by Zachary Galler.

THE CONFINES will have its World Premiere at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival in the Nightfall category on Saturday June 13, 2015 at 10:45PM in Regal 10.

World Premiere | Zeitgeist

William, Alissa, Gary and Eric are close friends at different stages in their high school careers, but the social playing field levels out when they all pack into William’s hand me down car on a cold winter’s night. Their common goal: avoid going home. When a party is busted, the group picks up Alexa, William's dream girl who joins their road trip to nowhere. As the sun rises and potential transgressions are illuminated, this ragtag group finds their friendships tested.

From first time writer/director Matthew Brown, comes a nuanced portrait of in-betweeners doing their best to avoid the life they are living, while trying to find the life they want. A film full of beautifully naturalistic performances from its ensemble of newcomers, all of whom were students with Brown at North Carolina School of the Arts, IN THE TREETOPS in a very personal story of being alone, together.

IN THE TREETOPS stars Emma Corley Geer, Matthew Brown, Cameron Morton, Joshua Pagan and Gabriel Douglas. Written, directed and produced by Matthew Brown. Cinematography by Donald Monroe and editing by Max Wilde.

IN THE TREETOPS will have its World Premiere at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival in the new competitive Zeitgeist section onSunday, June 14 2015 at 6:45PM in Regal 9.

See you at the festival!

LAFF 2015: "Bastards Y Diablos", In Competition

World Premiere
Sunday | June 14. 2015 | 8:45 PM
Regal Cinemas | L.A. Live
2nd Screening - June 17, 6:30 PM 

A raw sweet saga of irresistible brio.

Two estranged American half-brothers travel through Colombia to fulfill their dead father's will and connect with their family, their dad's homeland, and - ultimately - each other.

Ed and Dion, estranged half-brothers, are brought together by the unexpected death of their Colombian father.  Reunited for the first time as adults, they travel to Bogota to fulfill their father’s will: a set of directions leading them on a journey across Colombia to spread his ashes in the places that meant the most to him.  As the brothers progress on their quest, each location takes on a mythic importance, revealing the identity of their father, their homeland, and themselves.

Directed by | A.D. Freese
Written by | Andrew Perez
Executive Produced by | Dillon Porter, Andrew Perez
Produced by | Andrew Perez, A.D. Freese, Dillon Porter, Peter Grigsby, Eric G. Johnson, Joe Milner
Starring | Dillon Porter, Andrew Perez, Sebas Eslava, Juanita Arias

Inside Story
Bastards y Diablos is an epic story about intimate themes - brotherhood, legacy, love, and death - told in an unconventional manner.  Inspired by true events in the life of the screenwriter’s father, and including a cast largely comprised of non-actors – many of whom are family members or former lovers of the actual Colombian man - the film seamlessly blends reality with fiction to create an authentic, immersive journey.

Both personal and universal, it hones in on spontaneous human moments while capturing the breathtaking landscape of Colombia.  It was shot entirely on location in a dozen cities across Colombia by a crew of six, on a budget of $25k.

See you at the festival!

News: "Manglehorn" starring Al Pacino opens in Los Angeles on June 19th!

Instilled with director David Gordon Green's unique brand of eccentricity and anchored by a remarkably rich, understated performance from Pacino, "Manglehorn" is a movingly humanistic portrait of a man rendered with unsentimental simplicity and idiosyncratic humor.

Reclusive small town locksmith A.J. Manglehorn (Academy Award® winner Al Pacino) has never quite recovered from losing the love of his life, Clara. Fixated on her memory, he feels closer to his beloved cat than the people around him and prefers to find comfort in his work and daily routine. Still, he forges on with his tenuous human connections, maintaining intermittent contact with his son (Chris Messina), taking misplaced pride in a former protégé gone astray (filmmaker Harmony Korine), and establishing a cautious friendship with a kindhearted woman from the local bank (Academy Award® winner Holly Hunter). As this solitary man approaches the possibility of new love, he finds himself at a crossroads between staying mired in the past and embracing the present.

Directed by | David Gordon Green
Screenplay by | Paul Logan
Starring | Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine and Chris Messina

See you at the movies!

News: Sundance hit "Bound to Vengeance" opens in NYC and LA theaters on June 26th!

An Official Selection of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival - Park City at Midnight, IFC Midnight is proud to announce  the theatrical and VOD release of BOUND TO VENGEANCE on June 26, 2015.

BOUND TO VENGEANCE is a gritty revenge thriller about a young woman, EVE (Tina Ivlev), who fights back and manages to escape a malicious abductor. However, after discovering she may not be the only victim, Eve unravels a darker truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor. The film is directed by J.M. Cravioto and stars breakout actress Tina Ivlev and Richard Tyson. The screenplay was written by Rock Shaink, Jr., and Keith Kjornes.
Directed by | José Manuel Cravioto
Produced by | Alex Garcia, Rodolfo Marquez, Daniel Posada
Cast | Tina Ivlev (The Devil's in the Details), Richard Tyson (Moonlighting), Bianca Malinowski (Midnight Bayou)


""***1/2... succeeds at bringing new perspective to a tried and true genre." 

 "it's a refreshing change of pace from the dark thrillers that immerse us..." 

 "This pseudo-feminist revenge thriller has pleasingly schlocky grind house spirit. Tina Ivlev is impressive." 

LAFF 2015: "Out of My Hand", In Competition

North American Premiere
Friday | June 12 | 6:00 PM
Regal Cinemas | L.A. Live

Written and directed by Takeshi Fukunaga
Working as tree tapper on a rubber plantation in Liberia, West Africa, Cisco struggles to make a decent life for himself and his family. Despite his and his fellow workers’ attempt at unionizing, the rubber corporation maintains a stranglehold over their lives, keeping their dreams of a brighter future at bay. But when a well-timed visit from an American cousin opens Cisco’s eyes to a better future abroad, he seizes the one chance he has to change his life, and risks everything for a journey to New York City. Here, he finds himself in Staten Island's small, close-knit Liberian community, where fellow ex-pats help him line up work as a taxi driver. From behind the wheel of his Yellow Cab, a brave new world, full of new people and experiences, is revealed to Cisco. But just as he begins to adjust to his new life, he meets Jacob, a former Liberian child soldier, who unexpectedly forces Cisco to confront the demons of his own complicated past.

Beautifully shot on location in Liberia and New York City, OUT OF MY HAND showcases Liberian actors in raw, powerful and haunting performances. With a restrained and confident directorial hand, Takeshi Fukunaga evokes both the daily struggles within Liberia, and the complexities of its diaspora in New York City, giving voice to a community that is woefully underrepresented in film today.

OUT OF MY HAND stars Bishop Blay, Zenobia Taylor, Duke Murphy Dennis, Rodney Rogers Beckley, David Roberts and Shelley Molad. Written and directed by Takeshi Fukunaga. Written and produced by Donari Braxton with co-producer Mike Fox. Executive produced by Josh Wick and Matt Parker. Cinematography by Ryo Murakami and Owen Donovan with editing by Takeshi Fukunaga and Eugene Yi.

OUT OF MY HAND will have its North American Premiere at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival in the US Fiction Competition on Friday, June 12 at 6:00 PM. Another screening is scheduled on Sunday, June 14 at 11:10 AM in Regal 14.

See you at the festival!

LAFF 2015: "It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong", Official Festival Selection

World Premiere
FRIDAY | JUNE 12 | 6:30 PM

In this sparkling romance, Ruby (Jamie Chung), a Chinese American toy designer from LA, visits Hong Kong for the first time on business. Finding herself stranded, she meets Josh (Bryan Greenberg), an American expat who shows her the city. Meandering through nighttime streets pulsing with energy and possibility, they fall into a winding and carefree conversation, buoyed by an undeniable attraction.  As effervescent as a perfect first date, Emily Ting's charming directorial debut takes full advantage of the chemistry of its leads, the playfulness of their exchanges, and the magical landscape that is Hong Kong at night.

IT'S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG is written and directed by Emily Ting and produced by Ting and Sophia Shek.

See you at the festival!

LAFF 2015: Acclaimed dramatic thriller CONSUMED to screen on June 15!

Entertaining, relatable, suspenseful and informative, and a real eye-opener to what is going on. This film has re-inspired and educated me. BRAVO!

This powerful and alarming film raises awareness about our food supply chain—and how easily it can be threatened by powerful forces who aren't concerned about our health.
Founder of Mind Body Green

This jarring film cries out for all citizens who care about the health of people and the planet to get engaged.
Chairman, Stonyfield Farm 
Chairman, Just Label It

A beautiful portrayal of a family’s journey in the fight to label genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). GMO’s are in virtually ALL of our food sources! This is a fight that we must win and a must see film for every parent…. every corporate executive…. every elected political representative. Thank you to the brave filmmakers for making this compelling and important film.
President/ Environmental Media Association

CONSUMED is a dramatic thriller that explores the complex world of genetically modified food.

The story is anchored by a working-class, single Mother on a hunt to uncover the cause of her son's mysterious illness. Interwoven are the stories of an Organic farmer, the CEO of a biotechnology corporation, two Scientists on the verge of a major discovery, and an ex-Cop caught in the middle of it all.

Monday, June 15th at 8:50PM
Regal Cinemas L.A. Live 8 (1000 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles)

Directed by | Daryl Wein (BREAKING UPWARDS, LOLA VERSUS)
Screenwriters & Producers | Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones (BREAKING UPWARDS, LOLA VERSUS)
Cinematographer | Alex Bergman
Editor | Zachary Anderson
Cast | Zoe Lister-Jones, Danny Glover, Victor Garber, Taylor Kinney, Anthony Edwards, Griffin Dunne, Kunal Nayyar, Beth Grant

See you at the festival!

LAFF 2015: Two Must-See Films: "Sweet Micky for President", "In Footbal We Trust"

Directed by Ben Patterson; Story by Pras Michel of "The Fugees" 
JUNE 11, 2015 
8:30 PM

SWEET MICKY FOR PRESIDENT follows Pras Michel, Grammy award-winning rapper and founder of the hip-hop group The Fugees, as he returns to his homeland of Haiti post-earthquake and finds a corrupt government in paralysis. With no experience or money, Pras passionately mobilizes a presidential campaign for the unlikeliest of candidates: Michel Martelly, aka “Sweet Micky”, Haiti’s most popular and most outlandish pop star.

The idealistic and politically inexperienced pair set out against a corrupt government, civil unrest, and a fixed election system to change the course of Haitian history. When Pras’s former bandmate — superstar Wyclef Jean — also enters the presidential race, their chances seem further doomed and the story takes on the wild twists of celebrity drama. Pras Michel acts as masterful storyteller in SWEET MICKY FOR PRESIDENT and Director Ben Patterson brilliantly captures an important part of Haiti’s history as a fledgling democracy struggling to produce a government worthy of the world’s first black republic

The film won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival.

Directed by Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn
JUNE 17, 2015 

A stand-out hit at Sundance 2015, IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST is an insightful, eye-opening and moving documentary exploring in rich detail the remarkable story behind the Polynesian Pipeline to the NFL. To understand this phenomenon, one must appreciate the individuals and cultures behind the headlines, their unique diaspora to the United States and the role of the Mormon Church in facilitating their immigration.

A contemporary American story, IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit and complex Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, Utah. With unparalleled access and shot over a four-year time period, the film intimately portrays four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through the promise of American football. Viewed as the “salvation” for their families, these young men reveal the culture clash they experience as they transform out of their adolescence and into the high stakes world of collegiate recruiting, pursuing the dream of continuing their community’s legacy of producing NFL stars. Their stories combined with archival footage and interviews with current and former NFL players (including Troy Polamalu, Haloti Ngata, Star Lotulelei and Vai Sikahema) make this film even more powerful.

See you at the festival!

LAFF 2015: "The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce", Official LA Muse Section Selection

World Premiere
SATURDAY | JUNE 13 | 6:00 PM

A film by Baron Davis & Chad Gordon

From humble beginnings in 1970’s Los Angeles, deep in the crime and gang infested blocks of South Central, The Drew League has grown into the nation’s premiere destination for pro-am basketball. “The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce” chronicles the unlikely rise of a hoops institution, the men and women who made it possible, and the unifying, positive force it has become while crossing racial, cultural, and socioeconomic barriers. Featuring NBA stars including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Brandon Jennings, Dorell Wright, and Baron Davis, “The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce” celebrates the value of basketball, persistence, loyalty, and above all, community. The power of sports meets the power of people.

Watch the trailer below.

The Drew League is a summer pro-am basketball league based in the heart of South Central that over the course of its 40 years has become the most elite summer pro-am league in the world.  The Drew is truly a hidden gem of Los Angeles, but as you’ll see in the film, it’s more than just basketball.  The Drew is about opportunity, family and a safe haven in a place where uncertainty is the rule, not the exception. THE DREW provides a cultural perspective about LA often not told, and in today's landscape, a story that needs to be told.

NBA stars Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Nick Young, Brandon Jennings, Dorell Wright, and Byron Scott appear in the film as they claim that playing at The Drew is a career goal. The family who keeps The Drew afloat – helmed by longtime commissioner Dino Smiley – are a cast of characters themselves. This League has jump-started careers, expanded existing ones and created a place where at-risk youth in LA can come together, put their life situation and gang colors aside and play ball.

See you at the festival!

News: Filmbuff to release "Awesome Asian Bad Guys" on June 23!

"Awesome Asian Bad Guys" is a web series turned feature film and combines the collective talents of Hollywood actors and Youtube stars in an irreverent homage to the nameless, expendable, yet imposing villains of ‘80s & ‘90s action flicks. 

Online watch party and premiere event is set for June 23 on all major VOD platforms including the film’s website,, powered by VHX, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and Xbox Video.

Los Angeles, CA - Digital entertainment curator FilmBuff will release the web series-turned-feature action comedy AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS from filmmakers/YouTubers Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino a.k.a National Film Society on June 23 on all major VOD platforms including the film’s website, powered by VHX, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and Xbox Video.

An irreverent homage to the nameless, expendable, yet imposing villains of ‘80s & ‘90s action flicks, AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS plunges a ragtag group of Asian “bad guy” actors into a deadly mission to take down LA’s most nefarious mob boss. The cast uniquely combines popular Hollywood actors including Randall Park (The Interview, Fresh Off the Boat), Al Leong (Die Hard, Lethal Weapon), Dante Basco (Hook), Yuji Okumoto (The Karate Kid, Part II), Tamlyn Tomita (Joy Luck Club, The Karate Kid, Part II), George Cheung (Rambo: First Blood Part II), and Aaron Takahashi (The Wedding Ringer) with major YouTubers such as Wong Fu Productions, Wendy Nguyen (Wendy’s Lookbook), and AJ Rafael.

“We are excited to be launching our project with FilmBuff,” says co-director Patrick Epino. “They have made it possible for us take our movie to major platforms so that it can reach a wider audience. These legendary performers have spent their careers in the background, and this project finally gives them their due. It places them front and center where they belong. We look forward to building this into a franchise by developing a potential sequel and other kick-ass projects within the AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS universe.”

The AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS intellectual property originally began as a 2-minute video on Dypiangco and Epino’s National Film Society YouTube channel, where they incubated the project as part of the PBS Digital Studios network. With a modest but highly engaged and passionate audience, the duo recruited key talent and then took their concept to Kickstarter, where they raised production funds and expanded their fan base.

The first web-based project to ever participate in the prestigious Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) Emerging Storyteller program, the film premiered at CAAMFest and went on a successful festival run, playing to sold-out screenings of enthusiastic fans.  

“We are so lucky to have found such young, talented, and dedicated filmmakers in Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco,” says FilmBuff’s Sam Scupp. “Starting this project as a two-minute video and expanding it to what it is today is such a remarkable feat, and we are proud to have a part in sharing AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS with the world. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these two fantastic filmmakers.”

Using VHX, AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS will coordinate an online watch party experience accessible from anywhere in the world on June 23 that is tied to a special premiere event in Hollywood.

“AWESOME ASIAN BAD BUYS owes its existence to our online supporters, so it only makes sense to thank them and reach new fans with a big online watch party,” says co-director Stephen Dypiangco. “The film is available for pre-order from our website via direct-to-consumer platform VHX, which has empowered us through powerful tools and inspiring advice to expand our audience and turn our release into a major digital launch event.”

"We're very excited to help Awesome Asian Bad Guys take control of video sales through their own (kick-ass) website,” says VHX CEO Jamie Wilkinson. “For a film with such a great fan community already, it's the perfect opportunity for them to build a direct connection with their audience."

AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS is co-directed by and co-stars Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino. The film is produced by Stephen Dypiangco, Patrick Epino, Milton Liu, and Diana Williams and is executive produced by Phil Yu, creator of the Angry Asian Man Blog, and Devon George.

LAFF 2015: "Maiko: Dancing Child", Official Documentary Competition Selection

World Premiere
SUNDAY | JUNE 14 | 3:55 PM

This visually stunning film follows the life of dancer Maiko Neshino.  She has reached a pinnacle in her career as the celebrated Prima Ballerina of the Norwegian National Ballet. Now, she comes face to face with her desire to have a child – and star in Swan Lake.  In their debut documentary, filmmakers Åse Svenheim-Drivenes and Anita Rehoff Larsen explore the roles of mother and daughter with the traditional image of a ballerina. Early home videos of Maiko’s family in Japan are woven together with present day interactions between Maiko and her mother, emphasizing the sacrifices the family made to make Maiko’s dreams of ballet a reality. Elegant performance footage is balanced with moments of strenuous training, but Maiko’s grace can barely conceal the strain of continuing to persevere as the National Ballet’s top dancer – especially as her body changes.

The film will make its World Premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 14th 3:55 PM at REGAL Cinemas- LA Live. An additional screening is scheduled on June 16th at 3:30PM. Both Maiko and Ase will be in Los Angeles to grace the premiere.

See you at the festival!

LAFF 2015: "POCHA (Manifest Destiny)", Official Zeitgeist Selection

World Premiere
SUNDAY | JUNE 14 | 6:30 PM

In this gorgeously filmed crime thriller, first time feature filmmaker Michael Dwyer and his co-director Kiatlin Mclaughlin bring the intensity to POCHA (MANIFEST DESTINY) - an engaging story of a young woman caught in the cross hairs of life. Chasing the bling of the lux life, Claudia, a twenty-something Chicana, makes bad choices – and gets caught.  Despite the fact that she barely speaks a word of Spanish, her undocumented status gets her deported to Mexico.

After being deported from the U.S.A. for credit card fraud, she is forced to go to her estranged father’s cattle ranch in northern México. Although she can never legally return to the U.S. Claudia refuses to accept life with her estranged father and grandmother in her foreign “homeland,” and she spirals into a dangerous situation with a handsome smuggler. Veronica Sixtos gives a nuanced performance as an emotionally withholding anti-hero who’s trouble for anyone who dares to care about her. Pitched in a heightened style between a slow-burning thriller and a noir western, this smartly conceived allegorical tale confronts the dark side of the American dream.

The film features several extraordinary actors beginning with the hot Roberto Urbina, one of Colombia's finest young actors who is currently playing the Jesse Pinkman character in Metástasis, the Colombian adaptation of Breaking Bad; Veteran actor Julio Cedillo as Claudia's father -  played the title role in Tommy Lee Jones' THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA;  Maria Del Carmen Farias (Mexican Ariel Award nominee for El Sueño de Lu); Jorge Jimenez (director/actor of Hermoso Silencio, a beautifully crafted film); Jesse Garcia (best known for his indie performance in Quinceañera), and amazing newcomer Veronica Sixtos.

Veronica Sixtos and Jesse Garcia were in QUINCEAÑERA (Sundance 2006) and Garcia is now in the Robert Rodriguez series FROM DUSK TILL DAWN.  Julio Cedillo played the title role in Tommy Lee Jones' THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA.  María del Carmen Farías was nominated for an "Ariel" Mexican Academy of Film Award in 2013 for EL SUEÑO DE LU.  Roberto Urbina was in CHE and plays the young meth dealer in the Spanish language version of BREAKING BAD. Both Roberto Urbina and Jorge Jimenez are featured characters in the upcoming Netflix drama NARCOS.

See you at the festival!

News: Award-winning Documentary "We Come As Friends" Gets US Theatrical Release!

“A Surreal, moving, infuriating and persuasive argument that in South Sudan, there’s nothing ‘post’ about colonialism.”
Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Provocative and unapologetically political filmmaker Hubert Sauper returns to the kind of African situations that characterized his Oscar®-nominated Darwin’s Nightmare.”
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Hubert Sauper's "We Come As Friends" is one of the first releases this year for BBC Worldwide North America. Early reactions to the film across the globe have been exceptional with many considering the film as a potential awards contender this year. The poster alone is very provocative and has proven to be a conversation starter.

The film won awards at the Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Subversive Film Festival, Austrian Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival and others.

The films release schedule is as follows:

NEW YORK | August 14 at IFC Center
LOS ANGELES | August 21 at Laemmle Royal
WASHINGTON D.C. | August 21 at AFI Silver Theater

It will continue to open across the nation with engagements in markets including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and more. Sauper will be participating in special appearances and Q&As in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.

The film is a modern odyssey - a dizzying, almost science fiction-like journey into the heart of Africa. At the moment when the Sudan, the continent’s biggest country, is being divided into two nations, an old “civilizing” ideology re-emerges – one of colonialism and  a clash of empires – with new episodes of bloody (and holy) wars over land and resources.  Academy Award® nominated director of "Darwin’s Nightmare," Hubert Sauper, takes us on a voyage in his tiny, self-made aircraft constructed from tin and canvas, leading us into the most improbable locations and into people’s thoughts and dreams in both stunning and heartbreaking ways. Chinese oil workers, UN peacekeepers, Sudanese warlords, and American evangelists ironically weave common ground in this documentary.

"We Come As Friends" is written and directed by Hubert Sauper. It is produced by Gabriele Kranzelbinder and Hubert Sauper. Cinematographers: Barney Broomfield and Hubert Sauper. Editor: Denise Vindevogal. Composer: Slim Twig. Sound department: Alexander Koller. Music Department: Malia. Sudan.

See you at the movies!

Raymond Lo

Quick Reviews: "Tomorrowland", "San Andreas"

If you have noticed i have not been active with my blog for the past month or so. I have been quite busy at my day job and have not had much time to even update this blog for some of the more important events that transpired during the past month. Cannes came and went and save for a report i did on the film selections, I did not have much chance to report here on what movie generated the most buzz and what movies and actors took home the prizes. 
And i missed going to the movies. Except for occasional Netflix movies, I haven't gone to the movies in over two months - gosh, I miss the darkness of the cinema, the quiet murmurs of the bored and excited audiences and the big screen that transports my hapless self to the world envisioned by the filmmakers... but that's over now because yesterday, I went to the movies and saw two films that are making quite a buzz now.

I finally got to see "Tomorrowland" --- I waited many months for this movie and now i know why it disappointed at the box office: It's a big yawner! The movie is too didactic and too preachy that it brought me to sleep more than a couple of times. I love the idea about it but the storytelling is so uneven that when the setting finally shifted to Tomorrowland, I was already too bored to even care. If they could re-edit the movie and trim it by like 20 minutes, it would be a better film. (Note: There was a little boy who came with his mom to the cinema and midway through the movie, he was already asking his mom how many more hours until the movie ends... that about sums up the movie.)
Rating:  – 2 ½ Stars.

San Andreas
I also saw "San Andreas" and this one was a little bit better, just a little bit. The dialogues are so cheesy that you'll find yourself laughing at supposedly crucial dramatic scenes. But the special effects here is amazing though. I expected a Roland Emmerich-type of devastation but then it's not really his film so that is just fine -- the San Francisco earthquake and tsunami scenes were awesome but one will have to sit through those agonizingly long stretches of dialogues between characters who manage to deliver those corny exchanges and break into lip-locks amidst the devastation - and threats of more - around them. i guess it's what the genre calls for but...
Rating:  – 2 ½ Stars.

Raymond Lo