Monday night, October 26, was the Opening Night Red Carpet Awards Gala and Film for the First Annual Asian World Film Festival here in Los Angeles… It is a film festival created to honor emerging and notable talent, highlighting foreign language films that have been officially submitted to the Academy as their country’s Oscar hopeful and those submitted as a Golden Globe hopeful to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It’s a film festival I was pleasantly surprised to hear about (as it’s “about time”) and I was honored to be invited to witness it and be there for my first ever red carpet experience. No, not to walk the red carpet, but to interview the honorees and guests.
It happened very last minute and I didn’t get the confirmed list of people attending (a “tipsheet”) until maybe an hour or two before getting there, but I’m told such is the nature of these red carpet events (just because someone “confirms” doesn’t mean that they will in fact attend). Nevertheless, a handful of impressive talent came through and I had the pleasure of interviewing them in what felt like a blink of a moment.
Some highlights: I spoke to James Hong, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, who you may recognize from Kung Fu Panda, Mulan, Blade Runner, to name a few. I think he was my favorite interviewee as he made me laugh. He also was willing to share more personal tidbits which I appreciated. He’s exactly as you would imagine him to be.
Shohreh Aghdashloo, who received the Global Vanguard Award for Cinematic Achievement, whose beauty reminded me of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Catherine Deneuve. She really had an incredible presence and warm confidence. Her eyes and husky voice was hypnotizing as she told me about how those who want to pursue this industry should “not be afraid.”
The Rising Star award went to Tokyo born, Hawaii raise Sumire Matsubara, someone who I had not known of prior to last night but someone I will certainly keep an eye out for in the future. She has a large fan base in Japan which is only poised to grow with her first part in upcoming Hollywood film: The Shack, based on a novel. I think she has an amazing international appeal and I’m excited to see how her career develops as Asians become more prevalent in media. I also really enjoyed this interview she did where she shares her cross cultural background and how that has affected her career today.
Fellow actress and classmate from Carnegie Mellon University, Krista Marie Yu from the show Dr. Ken later presented the award to her. It was pretty awesome seeing two young women support each other on the stage in their careers. I enjoyed speaking with Krista about her experience on the show, which by the way is pretty comical even if it’s not exactly how I grew up as an Asian American. You can watch the show here like I did online
I also got to speak to some young talent.
The adorable Forrest Wheeler from the show Fresh off the Boat. Can you believe he’s only 11? I had the pleasure of meeting him before at a conference (photo below) and it’s always nice to see his smiling face. He has such an infectious energy and I’m so looking forward to how his career develops, as it’s only just begun.
Albert Tsai, another child actor was there looking ever so dapper. You can find him on Dr. Ken, alongside Ken Jeong and the aforementioned Krista Marie Yu.
I was definitely a bit out of my element but I was excited to be in a high energy environment, being my usual curious self. What was also very special about this film festival was that it didn’t feel competitive but overwhelmingly supportive. There were such a diverse group of cultures, talents, genres and even ages and it was incredible to see everyone celebrating each other’s successes, because after all, one’s success contributes to the overall greater picture.
A select few photos of other attendees:
After the red carpet, the awards followed. Here are some photos:
And after the awards, there was some mingling before heading over to the Arclight theatre next door for the opening night screening of “The Shameless” a South Korean Movie.As for the interviews, I think I did ok, but I am pretty proud of myself for saying yes and trying. In the meantime I’ll be practicing interviews. Speaking of which, you’ll notice that I have a few “protected posts” that are interviews. They’re teasers of a few interviews I’m working on. Be sure to come back and read them in full when they’re unlocked! 🙂
Check out the festival lineup and find out more about the Asian World Film festival here: http://www.asianworldfilmfest.org/
To the future of Asian Cinema!
P.S. I’ll let you know when the interviews are uploaded on Asians on Film. In the meantime you can follow me on instagram for any updates!
Edit/ Interview videos: