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2015 AAS Film Expo

Film Descriptions:

China & Inner Asia


Directed by J.P. Sniadecki.
2007/2014.  China.  28 minutes.
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 2:30pm

For generations, the Songhua River in northeastern China has been as a vital source of water, commerce and leisure for the surrounding communities. Filmed only one year after a major chemical spill, Songhua depicts the enduring and complex relationship between the local residents and their "mother river" and considers the environmental implications.

Distributed by The Cinema Guild.

The Road to Fame
Directed by Hao Wu.
2013. China. 83 minutes.
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 4:20pm
Q&A In-person with Hao Wu

China’s first official collaboration with Broadway is the staging of the American musical “Fame” as a graduation showcase for the senior class of China’s top drama academy.  Spanning the eight-month rehearsal process and final performance, The Road to Fame showcases five students who compete for roles, struggle with pressure from family and authority, and prepare to graduate into China’s corrupt entertainment industry.

Distributed by Tripod Media LLC.

Valley of the Heroes
Directed by Khashem Gyal.
2013. Tibet. 53 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 9:35am

Hualong County, whose name translates to "Valley of the Heroes", is located in Qinghai Province, China, at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and was once a place where Tibetan culture thrived among other ethnic groups.  As in many Tibetan communities where Chinese has become the dominant language of business and education, the loss of Tibetan language in Hualong County has reached a crisis level. This film renders a timely portrait of a community undergoing radical transformation and documents a group of students from Qinghai Nationalities University, who have volunteered to teach Tibetan language to the school children of Hualong.

Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources.

The Feast of Kurban Bayram
Directed by Liu Xiangchen.  Produced by Li Song.
2012. China. 52 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 10:40am

Bulonkol is located at the foot of the famous Kongur Tagh on Pamir plateau, Ayinle is a small nomadic village with only five households in the valley. Grandpa Bilimkul Bolox, who was the first one settled here with his family, is already 91 years old. To the old man, his granddaughter’s wedding ceremony and this year’s feast of Kurban Bayram imply a different meaning from the past years. The construction of the grand Kongur hydroelectric power station will force his family and his neighbors to move away from here. The nomadic life style that Kyrgyz people have maintained for centuries in the Kongur mountain region will also change completely.

Distributed by Center for Ethnic and Folk Literature and Arts Development, Ministry of Culture, P.R.C.

Saving Mes Aynak
Directed by Brent E. Huffman.
2014. Afghanistan. 62 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 12:25pm
Q&A in-person with Brent E. Huffman.

This film follows Afghan archaeologist Qadir Temori as he races against time to save a 5,000-year-old archaeological site in Afghanistan from imminent demolition. A Chinese state-owned mining company is closing in on the ancient site, eager to harvest $100 billion dollars’ worth of copper buried directly beneath the archaeological ruins. Only 10% of Mes Aynak has been excavated, though, and some believe future discoveries at the site have the potential to redefine the history of Afghanistan and the history of Buddhism itself.  Qadir Temori and his fellow Afghan archaeologists face what seems an impossible battle against the Chinese, the Taliban and local politics to save their cultural heritage from likely erasure.

Distribution by Kartemquin Educational Films.

The Land of Many Palaces
Directed and Produced by Adam James Smith and Song Ting.
Produced by Qihan Wang.
2014. China. 60 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 2:40pm
Q&A in-person with Adam Smith.

In Ordos, China, thousands of farmers are being relocated into a new city under a government plan to modernize the region. The Land of Many Palaces follows a government official whose job is to convince these farmers that their lives will be better off in the city, and a farmer in one of the last remaining villages in the region who is pressured to move. The film explores a process that will take shape on an enormous scale across China, since the central government announced plans to relocate 250,000,000 farmers to cities across the nation, over the next 20 years.

Distributed by Pulan Films.

Losing Ground
Directed by Bradley Rappa.
2014. Mongolia. 30 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 3:50pm
Q&A in-person with Bradley Rappa.

This film documents how Mongolia’s current push for industrialization and privatization is resulting in the rapid decline of a centuries old pastoral tradition.  Issues of environmental destruction, pollution and the tragic loss of sustainability are the primary focus of this film.

Distributed by Bradley Rappa.
Contact: Bradley Rappa, brappa [at]


Cotton Road
Directed by Laura Kissel.
2014. U.S. / China. 72 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 8:50pm
Q&A online with Laura Kissel.

Americans consume nearly 20 billion new items of clothing each year.  Yet few of us know how our clothes are made, much less who produces them. Cotton Road follows the commodity of cotton from South Carolina farms to Chinese factories to illuminate the work and industrial processes in the global supply chain.

Distributed by Laura Kissel.

The Play (Oyun)
Directed by Pelin Esmer.
2005. Turkey. 70 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 11:40am
Q&A in-person with Jenna Makowski of Alexander Street Press.

This film centers on nine peasant women living in Arslankoy, a mountain village in southern Turkey. To lighten the burden of life, these women come together to write and perform a play based on their own life stories. For days on end, under the curious gazes of the village men, they work tirelessly, discuss and create with much fun a play, "The Outcry of Women!" This documentary is about the development process of this play and the change the women went through during this period.

Distributed by Alexander Street Press.

Spilled Water
Directed by May May Tchao.
2014. China. 54 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 1:00pm
Q&A in-person with May May Tchao

SPILLED WATER explores how China’s rapid economic transformation is shifting the roles, rights, and social status of its women. Through the intimate stories of four women from different social and economic backgrounds, we learn how and why gender equality in China is so hard-earned.

Distributed by May May Tchao.

21 Years After
Directed by Lo Chun Yip
2010. Hong Kong. 44 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 3:20pm

Set during the first referendum held in Hong Kong, this narrative independent film depicts how some people grasp the chance to directly participate in the democratic process. They try in various ways to push for greater democracy in society so that the people can become emancipated.  21 Years After received the 16th Hong Kong Independent Short Film & Video Awards-Open Category-Silver Award.

Distributed by Ying E Chi.

My Way
Directed by Cheuk Cheung.
2012. Hong Kong. 72 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 7:25pm
Q&A in-person with Cheuk Cheung.

This is a story about male Dan (male performer playing female lead) in Cantonese Opera; a documentary seven years in the making about a marginalized art form. In Hong Kong, two young men who have chosen Cantonese Opera as their profession seek male Dan roles, which is rare in the industry. Without the support of family, the industry or the society, the only thing to keep the two men going is their passion.

Distributed by Cnex Foundation.


Northeast Asia

Surviving the Tsunami – My Atomic Aunt

Directed by Kyoko Miyake.
2013. Japan. 52 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 1:35pm

Film director Kyoko Miyake remembered Namie, a fishing village ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, as her childhood paradise. Revisiting her family’s hometown after 10 years abroad, Miayke’s multilayered documentary examines the disaster’s profound personal, social and environmental impact.

Distributed by Women Make Movies.

Reiterations of Dissent
Directed by Jane Jin Kaisen
2011/2014.  South Korea. 59 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 2:10pm
Q&A in-person with Nan Kim, Assistant Professor, University of Milwaukee.

This film engages multiple perspectives of the suppressed history of the Jeju 4.3 Uprising and Massacre on Jeju Island, South Korea that occurred shortly before the Korean War and marked the beginning of the Cold War in Asia.  The film connects this history to the present Jeju Naval Base construction.

Distributed by Jane Jin Kaisen.


Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful
Directed by Yuriko Gamo Romer.
2012. U.S./Japan. 58 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 4:15pm
Q&A In-person with Yuriko Gamo Romer.

Mrs. Judo tells the story of the life-long journey of Keiko Fukuda’s decision to defy thousands of years of tradition, choose her own path, and become judo history’s only woman to attain the pinnacle 10th degree.  This film premiered in March 2012, has traveled to over 20 international film festivals and broadcast on PBS in May 2012.

Distributed by Flying Carp Productions

Us & Them: Korean Indie Rock in a K-Pop World
Directed by Stephen A. Epstein & Timothy R. Tangherlini.
2014. South Korea. 39 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 8:50pm
Q&A online with Stephen A. Epstein & Timothy R. Tangherlini.

Offering a candid look at the challenges confronting the indie and punk rock musicians in South Korea laboring in the shadow of the corporate K-Pop juggernaut, this documentary follows several of Korea's most well-known indie bands as they embark on their first US tours in 2011. The spotlight lands in particular on Crying Nut, the endearing godfathers of Korean underground rock; the stylish RockTigers, Korea's most successful rockabilly band; and Whatever That Means..., a melodic punk band led by a married couple--bass player Trash and her American guitarist husband.

Distributed by Traumatic Productions.
Contact: Timothy R. Tangherlini, tango [at]

Southeast Asia

Directed by Esy Casey. Produced by Sarah Friedland.
2014. Philippines. 60 minutes.
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 3:10pm
Q&A online with Esy Casey.

This feature documentary, visualizes the richly diverse cultural and social climate of the Philippines through its most popular form of mass transportation: vividly decorated ex-WWII military jeeps.  The stories of drivers, artists, and passengers are lavishly shot and cut to the rhythm of the streets, providing an enticing vehicle through which the rippling effects of globalization can be felt.

Distributed by Perinspire Productions.

Papuans: Between Two Worlds
A film by Terranoa.
2013. Papua New Guinea. 55 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 8:30am

Following the path of two Papuans, Benneth and Jethro, this film bears witness to a traditional society at a turning point in its history. They are both in search of a new meaning to their life as individuals and as a community. How do they perceive the changes taking place? Can they avoid being caught up in the steamroller of globalization?

Distributed by Films Media Group, an Infobase Company.

Cambodia’s Other Lost City: French Colonial Phnom Penh
Directed by Jeffrey A. Dym.
2014. Cambodia. 29 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 11:45am
Q&A in-person with Jeffrey A. Dym.

Southeast Asia is home to a number of cities shaped by the history of colonialism with Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, providing an ideal case study for exploring the urban colonial encounter. This documentary examines the ways in which French colonial rule shaped Phnom Penh from the late 19th century to the 1930s. In particular, the film analyzes the relationship between architecture and imperial rule, arguing that the colonial city created a unique style specific to that distinct historical moment, all the while placing this historical transformation within the larger context of Cambodian history.

Distributed by Jeffrey A. Dym.

Living Stateless (“Di Ambang” in Bahasa Malaysia)
Directed by Vila Somiah and Matt Fillmore.  Produced by Azliana Aziz.
2014. Malaysia. 42 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 8:30am
Q&A in-person with Matt Fillmore, co-director.

Living Stateless follows the lives of undocumented Filipino migrant families living in the Malaysian state of Sabah, who have fled conflict in the southern Philippines and migrated across Malaysia’s porous sea borders. Following two families through their day-to-day lives, this documentary explores statelessness and the consequences it has on the generations of people living unrecognized by any country. After years of searching for peace and economic stability, they are vulnerable once again when insurgency hits Sabah.

Distributed by filmmakers.
Contact: diambangfilm [at]

Bitter Honey
Directed by Robert Lemelson.
2014. Indonesia. 82 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 10:10am
Q&A online with Robert Lemelson.

Bali is world famous as a tourist paradise but few outsiders have glimpsed the realities of Balinese daily life, where men are allowed to take multiple brides and often do so without their spouse’s consent. Women from three polygamous families tell their stories of coercion, betrayal, and domestic abuse and share their courageous struggle for empowerment and equal rights.

Distributed by Elemental Productions

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll
Directed by John Pirozzi. Produced by Andrew Pope.
2015. Cambodia. 106 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 5:25pm
Q&A online with Dr. Linda Saphan, Associate Producer.

Through the eyes, words and songs of its popular music stars of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, this feature length documentary examines and unravels Cambodia’s tragic past, culminating in the genocidal Khmer Rouge’s dismantling of the society and murder of 2,000,000 of its citizens. Combining interviews of the surviving musicians themselves with never-before-seen archival material and rare songs, the film tracks the twist and turns of Cambodian music as it morphs into rock and roll, blossoms, and is nearly destroyed along with the rest of the country.

Distributed by Argot Pictures


South Asia

Dal Puri Diaspora
Directed by Richard Fung.
2012. Canada/Trinidad/India. 80 minutes.
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 1:00pm

The recipe for dal puri traveled with indentured workers from India’s Gangetic plain to southern Caribbean colonies of Britain and the Netherlands in the 19th Century. In the 1960s the wrapped roti migrated from Trinidad to North America, where it is known as Caribbean or West Indian roti.  Shot in Toronto, Trinidad and India, this documentary tracks dal puri’s remarkable passage across space and time, linking colonialism, migration and the globalization of tastes.

Distributed by Third World Newsreel

Directed by Dr. Jane Dyson.
2014. India. 16 minutes.
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 7:30pm

Life on the roof of the world is changing. In villages straddling the high Himalayas, many of the younger generation seek to chart a new course, different from those of their parents. This is one man’s story of juggling responsibilities and fighting for dreams, both for himself and his community.

Distributed by Dr. Jane Dyson

Pad Yatra – A Green Odyssey
Directed by Wendy J.N. Lee.  Executive Producer Michele Yeoh.
2013. Himalayas. 72 minutes.
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 8:00pm

This film weaves ancient Buddhist spiritual traditions, global environmentalism, and Tibetan and Himalayan culture into an award-winning documentary that spotlights the ways a community-based movement can begin to solve one of the most pressing problems of our time.  Viewers are invited to join the adventure of 700 people, trekking across the Himalayas with a call to save the planet's "3rd Pole," a glacial region now devastated by the climate chaos associated with global warming.

Distributed by Good Docs

The Myth of the Buddha’s Birthplace
A film by James M. Freeman, Annapurna Devi Pandey, and Karsten Freeman.
2013. India. 36 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 4:30pm
Q&A in-person with James M. Freeman.

A controversial stone inscription discovered in 1928 states that the Buddha was born in a village in eastern India. This claim runs counter to all established theories of the Buddha’s birth. Anthropologists James M. Freeman and Annapurna Pandey investigate the claim and discover the creation of a modern myth and the rituals that people use to honor it.

Distributed by Berkeley Media.

A Looming Past
Directed by Sashi Sivramkrishna.
2010. India. 52 minutes.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 7:45pm

Weaving together a multi-layered narrative of the lives of traditional coarse blanket makers in a small southern Indian village in Karnataka State, Yaravarahalli, A Looming Past captures the sights and sounds of this process in its contemporary and increasingly frayed context, and at a critical juncture in its long and fractured history.

Distributed by Sashi Sivramkrishna.

Bottle Masala in Moile
Directed by Vaidehi Chitre.
2013. India. 38 minutes.
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 9:20am
Q&A online with Vaidehi Chitre.

Descendants of the indigenous populations of Mumbai, the East Indian community originated from diverse local groups of farmers, fishing people, and others. Today, the community finds itself rapidly losing land to the forces of development that see their property as prime real estate. For the community as a whole, this has meant losing a valuable connection with the soil to which their culture is tied- the ‘story of us’. But for many, especially those in the rural areas this has also meant a threat to livelihood and consequently, as a small community, a threat to their very existence.

Distributed by Vaidehi Chitre.
Contact: Vaidehi Chitre, vaidehi.chitre [at]














Last updated February 27, 2015
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