11th Annual CUNY Asian American Film Festival

By Joy Chiang Ling

Over the past decade, Asian American students from the various City University of New York (CUNY) campuses participate in the CUNY Asian American Film Festival in hopes of obtaining a coveted prize for their work.

The festival divided the films into three categories: Fiction, Documentary and Experimental. There were ten films in all. They include:

Directed by Jungwoo Lee (Brooklyn College)
A famous writer named Sigmund Hermann lives with his wife in a secluded home. Suffering from writer’s block, the famous author struggles to complete his latest novel. One winter night, one of Hermann’s fans, Karl Harvey, visits him and requests refuge from the cold. Hermann begrudgingly allows him to stay, and the moments that follow both inspire and frustrate the conflicted writer.

Long Roads
Directed by Joyce Lau (Queens College)
Tom, a former thief released from prison, is on a journey to find his way home to his estranged girlfriend and son. As a cancer patient, Tom struggles with the scorching weather and barren countryside. The former criminal contemplates life and nearly loses hope until he finally reaches home and falls asleep. Audiences are left wondering whether the story was a fabrication or reality.

Five More
Directed by Freddy Alcantar (City College of New York)
Oliver, a mentally handicapped man in Manhattan strikes up a game of basketball with his friend, Andy. On the way, he meets a man named Alejandro. After Andy walks out on his friend in the middle of their game, Alejandro joins in and tries to console the distraught Oliver. However, Alejandro’s intentions may not be as kind-hearted as he initially made them out to be.

The World We Live In
Directed by Xianggun Che (Brooklyn College)
Before proposing to his girlfriend, Konstantin, a hot-tempered New Yorker with a tough demeanor, witnesses a horrible crime in the middle of the night. Shocked from his discovery and ashamed of the decision he made after witnessing it, Konstantin confides in his girlfriend, who unintentionally makes matters worse.

Silent Exposure
Directed by Kayoko Nakamura (Hunter College)
Co-directed by Christopher Nostrand (Hunter College)
In an attempt to defeat the enemy during the Vietnam War, the United States army employed Agent Orange, a deadly herbicide with disastrous side effects that last to this day. Christopher Nostrand’s father, a Vietnam War veteran, was one of the countless victims of Agent Orange. Nostrand and Nakamura attempt to uncover the truth behind the crippling chemical by interviewing a variety of experts and other people whose lives have been affected by the weapon.

Our Space; Our Food; Our Bed-Stuy
Directed by Phung Tran-khamphounvong (Hunter College)
Common diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes are the unfortunate result of poor diets. Tran-khamphounyong, alongside three of her fellow Hunter College students, explore one of the many “food deserts” in New York City – Bedford Stuyvesant. Residents in the neighborhood believe that the lack of quality food in their area is linked to a variety of socioeconomic problems, such as income inequality and poor education. This documentary gives insight into how the problem arose, and how it is currently being solved with the help of community gardens, restaurants and bodegas.

Directed by Youngki Jin (City College of New York)
This monochromatic film is a symbolic representation of an infant developing inside its mother’s womb. It makes use of eerie music, pulsing sound effects and dark visuals in order to portray a claustrophobic atmosphere.

Directed by Lynell Ann Vinuya (Brooklyn College)
After her grandmother passed away, Vinuya was inspired to create a film with haunting, dream-like visuals and disturbing imagery. Initially intended to be a romantic comedy, Polly is about a female Marine who accepts a marriage proposal from her boyfriend. However, the Marine suffers from recurring dreams that feature a lone door and a little girl creep into reality.

Red Fog
Directed by Fan He (City College of New York)
The Great Red Fog, the culmination of China’s air pollution, finally dissipates in 2032. A widowed father recounts his memories to his daughter as footage of China’s smoggy landscape take over the screen.

Banished Wonderland
Directed by Chung-Hui Chao (Hunter College)
Banished Wonderland is an abstract piece that contains a medley of videos that are vaguely connected to each other. Chao uses a variety of tools to complete this film, including found footage, an iPhone and a DSLR.

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