HAPPY ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH!
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and to celebrate, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) showcased over one hundred films created by Asian and Asian American filmmakers. In its 34th year, the LAAPFF ‘aims to create a space that engages intra-diversity amongst Asian American & Pacific Islanders, and intra-diversity with other communities’. This year’s festival launched May 3rd and continued through the 12th. LAAPFF sprawled across Los Angeles, with screenings from Hollywood to the Arts District, plus Little Tokyo, Koreatown and more. Asian American films were being viewed and discussed all around the city.
I was lucky enough to get an invite from my husband, Adam Leeman, Producer of a short film selected to screen at this year’s festival. That film – Just a Kid from Seattle – was directed by Filipino-American filmmaker Jonathan Augustavo and debuted on the night of May 9th. Jon and Adam have been working together since their days at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
The 20-minute short film, Just a Kid from Seattle, recounts the story of a mixed-race troubled teen, as he grapples with his mother’s death and recaptures a new found love for his city and culture. The film breaks stereotypical boundaries with an Asian American leading man that is more than just a math wiz or sidekick, as well as, highlighting areas of Seattle that are under-appreciated and underrepresented in film; areas Jon lived, ate, and played. While the film is closely aligned to Jon’s upbringing and culture, rest-assured that his mother, Evelyn, is still alive and well. Jon’s intentions are to change how Asians are represented in film, while supporting and sharing the unique Seattle-based community responsible for shaping who he is today. To that end, the duo hopes to eventually create a longer form, feature length film with these ideals as the foundation.
And sadly, amongst all this good news surrounding the film is the unfortunate incident that occurred on April 29, 2018 to a beloved cast member. Charles Justice, known by his friends as ‘Chuck’ was senselessly shot and killed trying to defuse a disagreement. While he only played a small part in this film (the introduction to the Medgar Evers Pool in Seattle), he played a huge role in the lives of those around him, and was dear to many involved with this production. For those that feel so inclined to donate to the college fund for Chuck’s three children, please checkout their GoFund Me page.