17th Annual Asian American Showcase

  1. 17th Annual Asian American Showcase

The Gene Siskel Film Center and the Foundation for Asian American Independent Media (FAAIM) present the 17th edition of Asian American Showcase, April 6 through 19. The festival encompasses comedies and dramas, probing documentaries, provocative shorts, and an array of special activities, all showcasing a wealth of talent on the Asian American scene.

The art exhibition 100 Years, featuring work by Chicago artists Wang Frank Yefeng, Cheng-Yung Kuo, and noted Chinese brush painter Qigu Jiang opens in our Gallery/Café on Friday, April 6, with a reception from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with Chicago’s Chinatown Centennial Celebration.

For their essential role in making Asian American Showcase possible, the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks FAAIM founding members Sooyoung Park, Ben Kim, and William Shin; festival director Tim Hugh; the Alphawood Foundation; the Illinois Arts Council, A State Agency; and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

—Barbara Scharres


  • Opening Night Film


Fri, Apr 6th at 8:15pm
Wed, Apr 11th at 8:15pm
Average: 4.7 (13 votes)

Filmmakers in person!

  2. 2011, Dave Boyle, USA, 73 min.
  3. With Goh Nakamura, Yea-ming Chen

Singer/songwriter Goh Nakamura reprises his deadpan role as king of the romantic losers in this episodic road movie sequel to last year’s SURROGATE VALENTINE. The singer’s jingle for “Relatrix,” an anti-depressant, appears to have the TV half-life of nuclear waste, while his relationship with Erika, an emotionally prickly professor, looks like past history. An impulsive pursuit of the alluringly punkish chanteuse Yea-ming (Chen, guitarist for the band DreamDate) leads to Las Vegas via a disastrous but goofy adventure in atmospheric San Juan Bautista. HDCAM video. (BS)

Director Dave Boyle and actor Goh Nakamura will be present for audience discussion on Friday.

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  • Closing Night Film


Sun, Apr 15th at 6:00pm
Thu, Apr 19th at 8:45pm
Average: 4.4 (7 votes)

Richard Wong in person!

  1. 2011, Richard Wong, USA, 80 min.
  2. With Lynn Chen, Parry Shen

One-upmanship becomes the driving force behind this comedy that revolves around sex, gourmet meals, boorish banter, and bad choices. Bedtime has become a bore for longtime couple Sylvia and Luke, but when they meet urbane, charismatic new friends Elena and Ronald, both are left secretly humming with the sexual vibes. Invited for a very special dinner at the couple’s home, Sylvia and Luke discover that there is a little something extra on the menu, and more life lessons to be learned from the encounter than they had imagined. HDCAM video. (BS)

Director Richard Wong will be present for audience discussion on Sunday.

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  • Features
Average: 5 (7 votes)
  1. 2012, H.P. Mendoza, USA, 72 min.
  2. With Anna Ishida, Jeannie Barroga

This atmospheric ghost story poses a puzzle for Emily, a young 19th-century woman who lives alone in a sumptuous Victorian home, where she adheres to a simple and solitary daily routine. Life changes abruptly when she is confronted by a disembodied female voice singing a taunting ditty and asking abrasive questions. The voice reveals herself as “Sylvia,” a kind of ghost-buster spirit who is meant to guide Emily on a journey to the other world…but is Emily dead? Does this beautiful and mysterious house also harbor someone else? HDCAM video. (BS)

Please note:
The show original scheduled for Monday, April 16 at 8:00 has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

Patrick Wang in person!

  1. 2011, Patrick Wang, USA, 169 min.
  2. With Patrick Wang, Brian Murray

“Remarkably fresh and unpredictable…one of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year.”
—Paul Brunick, The New York Times

“A powerful study…beautifully written and performed…recalls the social realism of John Cassavetes.”
—Richard Kuipers, Variety

Joey, an Asian American gay man, has a comfortable life in a small Tennessee town with his partner Cody and their 6-year-old son Chip. Cody’s death in a tragic accident sets Joey on the path to an arduous and ugly confrontation over the custody of the boy, Cody’s biological son, with the people he had come to regard as family. This masterful drama, featuring an impressive ensemble cast and a stunning performance by director Wang as Joey, merits every bit of its epic length as it follows the conflicting ways of the law and the heart. 35mm. (BS)

Director/actor Patrick Wang will be present for audience discussion.

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Sat, Apr 7th at 8:15pm
Thu, Apr 12th at 8:30pm
No votes yet
  1. KNOTS
  1. 2011, Michael Kang, USA, 76 min.
  2. With Illeana Douglas, Kimberly-Rose Wolter

A marriage proposal during a hula demonstration goes hilariously awry, setting the tone for this wacky comedy set in camera-friendly Hawaii. Marital tangles are a family legacy for Lily, whose much-married man-crazy mother had three daughters by three different husbands. Seeking a Hawaiian vacation and a respite from romance, Lily is unwillingly plunged into the family’s wedding planning business to face daily reminders of her own commitment phobia. A dalliance with an old flame threatens to burn a few bridges.

Preceded by:

2011, Masahiro Sugano, USA, 14 min.
With Mia Park, Elliot TaeSoon Kahng

The Internet plays a role in a squabble between siblings. Both in HDCAM video. (BS)

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Sat, Apr 14th at 6:00pm
Wed, Apr 18th at 8:00pm
Average: 4.4 (10 votes)
  1. 2011, Hiram Chan, Jeff Mizushima,
  2. and Emily Yoshida, USA, 74 min.
  3. With Emily Yoshida, Dave Horwitz

Three twenty-somethings in the throes of a quarter-life crisis are featured in a love-triangle the filmmaker aptly describes as “a comedy of tragic proportions.” Caitlin seeks the identity of her secret e-mail admirer; Alex reinvents his past to impress his sister’s foxy roommate; and geeky Anthony’s romantic future seems to hang on one little text message. The Internet looms large as a character in these interconnected stories, as the would-be lovers repeatedly turn away from the complications of the real to pursue the lure of elusive Web relationships. DigiBeta video. (BS)

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Wed, Apr 11th at 6:00pm
Average: 4 (1 vote)
  1. 2011, Lu Lippold and Mark Tang, USA, 57 min.

Open Season explores the issues raised by the trial of Minnesota Hmong immigrant Chai Vang, ultimately convicted of the 2004 murder of six deer hunters in the Wisconsin woods. The filmmakers give voice to the enduring pain, confusion, and struggles with prejudice on both sides.

Preceded by:

2011, Christopher Woon, USA, 56 min.

Among B-Boys demonstrates the positive influence of hip hop culture among Hmong immigrants and their teenage offspring in central California, where rap music and break-dancing competitions are now a welcome feature of Lunar New Year festivities. Both in DigiBeta video. (BS)



Sun, Apr 8th at 4:00pm
Mon, Apr 9th at 6:15pm
Average: 5 (3 votes)
  1. 2011, Bill Bowles and Kenny Meehan, USA, 69 min.

Following the L.A. audition for a Bollywood production, struggling American-born actor Omi Vaidya is plucked out of obscurity to co-star in the comedy 3 IDIOTS opposite “the Tom Cruise of India.” To Omi’s amazement, the film becomes the biggest blockbuster in the history of Indian cinema, and he is an overnight star idolized by millions and nominated for every award in sight. This playful documentary follows the incredulous new star’s Bollywood saga, as his four best friends from college show up to claim press passes for the Indian equivalent of the Oscars to document the fun. In English and Hindi with English subtitles. DigiBeta video. (BS)

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Average: 4.8 (5 votes)

Performers in person!

  1. 2012, Tad Nakamura, USA, 56 min.

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) presents this sneak peek at a behind-the-scenes profile of Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. Startlingly young and breathtakingly unassuming, “the Hendrix of the ukulele” is equally at ease soloing with a symphony orchestra or entertaining a class of preschoolers. Director Nakamura captures pensive moments and triumphant performances in a film packed with numbers showing off the range of Shimabukuro’s amazing repertoire, from classical and pop to jazz, blues, and avant-garde. DigiBeta video. (BS)

The film will be followed by a 15-minute live ukulele performance by local musicians.

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Sat, Apr 7th at 6:30pm
Mon, Apr 9th at 7:45pm
Average: 5 (3 votes)
  1. 2011, Melissa Johnson, USA, 87 min.

Inspired by HOOP DREAMS, director Johnson documents the personal and professional coming of age of former Harvard star point guard Emily Tay, known to her fans as “Ninja” and “Queen of the No Look Pass.” Coming out to her conservative Burmese-immigrant parents as gay, holding the line against a threatened arranged marriage, and signing with a professional team in Germany, she surmounts taboos and obstacles with the tactical ingenuity that has made her a stunner on the court. DigiBeta video. (BS)

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Average: 4 (1 vote)
  1. 2011, Ross Tuttle, Cambodia/USA, 50 min.

RESIDENT ALIENS explores the unfamiliar new world of three Cambodian-born American immigrants deported for felony convictions. Brought to the U.S. legally as infant refugees, they neglected to apply for citizenship and now find themselves destitute outcasts in a Phnom Penh slum. Looney and China support each other in a relationship of convenience, while KK teaches break-dancing to orphaned street kids. In English. Beta SP video.

Preceded by:

2011, Carol Liu, USA, 55 min.

A film that reveals the inner workings of a Chinese village clinic where a young doctor administers basic health care to a forgotten rural population that has never before seen a doctor. In various Chinese dialects with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (BS)

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Sun, Apr 15th at 3:00pm
Wed, Apr 18th at 6:15pm
No votes yet
  1. 2009, Frieda Lee Mock, USA, 72 min.

Oscar-winning director Mock (MAYA LIN: A STRONG CLEAR VISION) accompanies the Los Angeles Children’s Choir on their 2008 tour of China, showcasing the group’s inspiring musicianship and solidarity, while capturing compelling views of cities including Shanghai, Xian, Beijing, and Hong Kong along the way. Between rehearsals and performances of “Carmina Burana” and “Ode to Joy,” the kids manage to wow their hosts with their poise, maturity, and humor. The presence of many Asian Americans in the choir is a surprise element that often reduces awe-struck audience members to tears. HDCAM video. (BS)

Sight and Sound: Films with Live Soundtracks

  • Shorts Programs


Sun, Apr 8th at 5:30pm
No votes yet

Performers in person!

  1. Sight and Sound:
  2. Films with Live Soundtracks
  1. 2012, Tatsu Aoki, USA, 42 min.

Chicago-based avant-garde jazz musician/composer Tatsu Aoki, a School of the Art Institute of Chicago alumnus, joins special guests in performing a live soundtrack for his new film AH SOU DESUKA: IS THAT SO! Aoki describes this transformative exploration of displacement and Diaspora as “an experimental visual journey of chances.”

Preceded by:

2010, Aram Siu Wai Collier, Canada, 37 min.

A multi-genre cinematic vision of Chinatown created by seven artistically diverse award-winning Chinese Canadian filmmakers: Lesley Loksi Chan, Lillian Chan, Aram Siu Wai Collier, Heather Keung, Serena Lee, Howie Shia, and Joyce Wong. A live soundtrack will be performed by composer Arthur Yeung and guest musicians. Various digital formats. (BS)

Director Aram Siu Wai Collier will be present for audience discussion.

Animal Style


Sat, Apr 14th at 3:15pm
Average: 5 (1 vote)

North American premieres!
Filmmakers in person!

  1. Animal Style
  1. 2008-2012, Various directors, USA/Hong Kong/Thailand, 120 min.

The contemporary skateboarding scene in the U.S. and Asia is explored artistically in this program curated by Martin Wong of Giant Robot magazine. The program includes: THE WORKING MAN by Samrod Shenassa, Randal Kirk II, and Wing Ko (2011, 9 min.); THE PERFECT TIME by Wing Ko (2012, 3 min.); THE BROTHERHOOD CHICAGO—FIRST-WAVE OF SKATERS FROM SECOND CITY by Wing Ko (2012, 30 min.); RAY BARBEE IN TRAVELING SOUNDS by Ben Clark and Langdon Taguiped (2011, 17 min.); SKATEBOARDING IS LOVE by Nigel Ong (2008, 1 min.); HOLLIEDAY by Piet Guifoyle and Owen Yu (2011, 30 min.); and CHAIYO by Op Sudasna (2012, 30 min.). Various digital formats.

Curator Martin Wong and filmmaker Wing Ko will be present for audience discussion.

See video