July 18, 2016

Asian American International Film Festival 2016 Proudly Presents the NY Premiere of TOTO

Asian CineVision and the 39th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF16) is thrilled to present the New York premiere of TOTO, directed by John Paul Su and starring actor Sid Lucero. TOTO is a story about the sheer power of the dream for a young Filipino hotel room service attendant.

Sid Lucero in NYC promoting TOTO (Lambert Parong/Kababayan Media)
Antonio “Toto” Estares hails from Tacloban, a place ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda. He works at a hotel in Manila, and tries every which way to get to the U.S. so he can support his family – which he’s been doing since his father died and left them penniless. His father had made it to Las Vegas, undocumented, to become a stage act and promised to petition his family, but he ended up a dishwasher who drank and gambled away everything. The only thing Toto inherited from his father is the obsession of the dream and fulfill his ill mother’s hope.
Toto makes one failed attempt after another to get a U.S. visa, risking friendships, relationships, his job, a lot of borrowed money, his dignity, and his heart. What he doesn’t realize is that, in a way, he’s already made it to America. The hotel is America. Its Americans guests represent the good, the bad, and the ugly that make America. After Toto meets the bad and gets ripped off, he loses hope. Yet it’s a good American that helps Toto, in a most unexpected way.
Although the failures of his father follow him, and even haunt him, it’s the power of his father’s dream that fuels him, not just for himself, but for those he loves, to help better their lives and achieve their own dreams. Some call it the American Dream, but for those beyond the U.S. it’s simply “the dream”. After all, there’s a TOTO that resides in all of us.
Director, John Paul “JP” Su is a NYU Tisch alum, who won the Directors Guild of America’s Best Asian-American Student Filmmaker Award for his short film PAGPAG (The Refuse). He is a Disney/ABC-DGA Directing Program alumnus, and currently one of the selected directors of NBCUniversal’s Emerging Directors Program. TOTO is his debut feature film.

TOTO will screen at 8:15 pm at Village East Cinema on July 29, 2016

The post screening panel will consist of director, writer, producer John Paul Su, writer and producer Donald Martin, Francisco Castelo, director of photography Clarissa Delos Reyes, actor and executive producer Blake Boyd, actor Liza DiƱo, and actor Carlo Cruz. 

To learn more about the full schedule of events, visit http://aaiff.org/2016/

Festival Ticket Information
Tickets for general admission are $15. Tickets for seniors (65+), students and handicapped (must present valid ID) are $11. Tickets for ACV members and Community Partners are $11.00. Tickets are available for purchase on AAIFF’s website. For Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing Night Events, please check website for ticket details.

General Festival Information
The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is a presentation of Asian CineVision. The festival is a celebration of inspiring Asian and Asian American works in film and video from innovative artists around the world. AAIFF 2016 takes place July 21- 30, 2016 in Manhattan and Queens. Manhattan venues include: Asia Society (725 Park Avenue); Village Cinema East (181-189 2nd Avenue); Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre Street); and the Writers Guild of America (250 Hudson Street). Queens venues include: Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria); and Flushing Town Hall (13735 Northern Boulevard, Flushing). 

About Asian CineVision:
Asian CineVision (ACV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media arts organization devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American film and video.

Governor Cuomo Launches "Naturalize NY" – First Public-Private Partnership of Its Kind to Promote U.S. Citizenship

In Partnership With the New York Daily News, Robin Hood Foundation, SUNY Albany, Stanford University, and George Mason University


"NaturalizeNY" Waives Naturalization Fee For 2,000 Eligible Low-Income Working Immigrants


$1.25 Million Investment Will Offset Financial Costs and Help Reduce the Barriers For Immigrants to Become U.S. Citizens


Governor Announces Website For Individuals to Determine Citizenship Eligibility and Apply For Fee Waiver - NaturalizeNY.Org


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently launched “NaturalizeNY,” the first public-private partnership of its kind to encourage and assist eligible immigrants in New York State with becoming U.S. citizens. The initiative provides comprehensive support through the naturalization process – featuring free eligibility screenings, application assistance, naturalization exam preparation, and a lottery for 2,000 naturalization application fee vouchers for low-income citizenship-eligible immigrants. NaturalizeNY is administered by the State Office for New Americans in partnership with the New York Daily News, the Robin Hood Foundation, New York Community Trust, SUNY Albany, Stanford University, George Mason University and additional not-for-profit organizations throughout the state.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and New York believes that diversity is our greatest asset,” Governor Cuomo said. “Amid the fervor of national debate, today we are sending a clear message – that we welcome you with open arms to join our community and grow with our economy. Ensuring greater access to the information, tools and resources needed to apply for citizenship is vital to delivering on this promise, and we are proud to point the nation the way forward in getting it done.”

NaturalizeNY boosts awareness of the naturalization process by providing comprehensive citizenship assistance, and includes a lottery for 2,000 naturalization application fee vouchers for eligible low-income working immigrants. The New York Daily News, which runs the annual program "Daily News/CUNY Citizenship NOW!,” and offers thousands of immigrants in New York City free immigration advice, will assist with the selection of the first round of recipients in September.
In addition to expanding opportunity for New Yorkers, NaturalizeNY will also provide a boost to the state’s economy. The 2015 study conducted by the Urban Institute found that, on average, there is an increase of 8.9 percent in earnings for immigrants who become citizens. The increased earnings lead to higher tax payments and lower reliance on public benefits. For New York City, this would mean that if all eligible immigrants become citizens there would be an increase in tax revenues of $789 million, which, along with a decrease in benefits use, would yield a net benefit to New York of $823 million.

Citizenship Assistance
As a central component of NaturalizeNY, the State will host Citizenship and Naturalization Legal Clinics at its 27 Opportunity Centers across New York. At no cost to the prospective applicant, each Legal Clinic will provide:
  • Information on the U.S. citizenship process
  • Eligibility screenings
  • Naturalization application assistance
  • Naturalization application fee waiver assistance 
  • English and civics classes
Additional naturalization assistance services will be coordinated with experienced community partners throughout the state and online services. A locator for Opportunity Centers is available here.

Lottery for Application Fee Voucher

According to the U.S. Census, there are 915,000 people in New York State who hold a green card and are eligible for citizenship – including approximately 654,720 in New York City. The federal application fee for any individual is currently $680 and is expected to rise later this year.
A 2015 study conducted by the Urban Institute found that a main reason these individuals have not yet applied is related to the cost of the individual application. While there is an application to waive the federal application fee for low-income immigrants, many working applicants are income ineligible for the federal naturalization fee waiver. For example, an individual making $30,000 a year – an income that is still too high to qualify for federal fee waivers – still spends about a week’s pay on the naturalization application fee.

To support 2,000 prospective applicants, New York State, the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust are investing more than $1.25 million to cover the fee assistance vouchers. The funding will be paid directly to the federal government by the campaign partners and will cover the full cost of the required naturalization process. Vouchers will be distributed over the next 12 months, and will be administered by personnel from SUNY Albany, Stanford University, and George Mason University.

To apply: Applicants whose household income falls between $30,240 and $60,480 are encouraged to apply. Registration opens today and closes September 23. Prospective applicants can determine their eligibility for citizenship and their eligibility for the lottery by visiting www.NaturalizeNY.org; additional information is available by calling the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Building on New York’s Leading Efforts

Naturalize NY is part of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to help immigrants and minority populations fully participate in New York’s civic and economic life.

In 2011, his first year in office, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 26, requiring State agencies that provide direct public services to offer free interpretation and translation services to members of the public for vital forms and instructions. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York State also:
  •  Established Office for New Americans – the first state-level immigrant office created by statute in the nation – to assist newcomers in the State who are eager to contribute to our economy and become part of the family of New York.
  •  Launched a comprehensive initiative to protect immigrants from immigration-related fraud, which included signing legislation making it a felony to commit immigrant assistance services fraud.
Most recently, Governor Cuomo launched the Task Force to End Worker Exploitation and the Nail Salon Industry Enforcement Task Force to ensure that workers are being treated fairly and for business owners to better understand their rights and responsibilities.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

The federal government only grants U.S. citizenship to immigrants with lawful status after the individual fulfills the requirements established by Congress. The process of becoming a citizen, referred to as naturalization, generally includes an extensive application to the federal government, submission of fingerprints to be used for a criminal background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, passing a language and civics exam, and an interview with a federal immigration officer. After this process, an immigrant is not yet a U.S. citizen until after the individual takes the Oath of Allegiance at a citizenship ceremony.

Mayor de Blasio Launches Voter Registration Forms in Five New Languages, Expanding Access to Voting

Voter registration forms now available in Russian, Urdu, Haitian Creole, French and Arabic


NEW YORK–– As part of the administration’s efforts to expand voting participation and access, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced the launch of voter registration forms in five new languages: Russian, Urdu, Haitian Creole, French and Arabic. 
“No one should be disenfranchised because of their language,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These voter registration forms in five new languages will help us involve even more New Yorkers in the voting process. New York is a city of immigrants, and these forms will help New Yorkers of every background cast their ballots on Election Day.”
“With these new voter registration forms, we are sending a clear message: civic participation matters for all New Yorkers, and all citizens should be able to exercise their right to vote,” said Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “New York City is the most diverse city in America, with over 200 languages spoken. With this announcement, the de Blasio administration has now ensured that there are accessible voter registration forms for 80 percent of Limited English Proficient eligible voters in New York City, and we will continue to expand these efforts in 2016.”
The administration has already taken multiple steps to increase participation in the electoral process and reduce barriers to voting. The Mayor issued Directive #1 expanding the requirements for agency-based voter registration, including a requirement that 19 agencies provide assistance with completing voter registration forms if requested, and has worked with the City Council to expand the agencies covered by the law. Additionally, the administration is currently implementing a pilot project to provide electronic, agency-based voter registration.
The new forms will be available on the Campaign Finance Board website (www.nyccfb.info/), which is also found on the homepage of NYC.gov under “Register to Vote.”
The City will also add additional voter registration form languages in the coming months beyond the five new languages announced today, with the aim to provide translated versions in the top languages spoken by limited English proficient eligible voters. Previously, the voter registration forms were available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Bangla.
Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs announced the launch of five new form languages at Homecrest Library in Brooklyn, where she was joined by the Campaign Finance Board, elected officials, community-based groups and leadership from the Brooklyn Public Library. A number of immigrant community organizations partnered with the Mayor’s Office on this initiative, including AALDEF (Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund), African Communities Together, Arab-American Family Support Center, CAMBA, Make the Road New York, MUNA NY and Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach.
Many New Yorkers may be eligible for citizenship and the benefits it provides, including voting. The City is also providing support to immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens through its NYCitizenship program, which Mayor de Blasio launched this year. As part of NYCitizenship, New York City residents receive appointments with a trusted attorney for help with citizenship applications, information sessions about the citizenship process and its benefits, and free and confidential financial counseling. U.S. citizenship gives residents the right to travel with a U.S. passport, vote in elections, and access more job opportunities. To learn more, visit www.nyc.gov/citizenship.

H. E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza | Statement On The Situation In The Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question

On July 12, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on “The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question.”
In his statement, Archbishop Auza mentioned the July 1st “Report on the Middle East” by the Quartet on the Middle East comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union and said it was time to act on its recommendations to bring peace and security to the citizens of Israel and of the State of Palestine. He called attention to the ongoing persecution of Christians in the remnants of Syria and Iraq and repeated Pope Francis’ words talking about the duplicity of calling for peace on the one hand and promoting the sale or giving of arms to those in the region on the other. Peace requires focus on development, not guns; on dialogue, not weapons. He also urged strengthening the relationship between faith-based “informal diplomacy” and the formal diplomacy of States and multilateral international bodies. Finally he called on religious believers and leaders to end all forms of mutual hatred that could lend credence to a “clash of civilizations” and to condemn and combat efforts to hijack religion to justify terror and violence.
His statement can be found here.

“HOOLIGAN SPARROW,” AN ASTONISHING GUERILLA-STYLE DOCUMENTARY THAT WAS SMUGGLED OUT OF CHINA; TO HAVE THEATRICAL RELEASE STARTING JULY 22 IN NEW YORK &JULY 29 IN LOS ANGELES




IN THEATERS JULY 22 - FULL, QUALIFYING THEATRICAL RUN


NEW YORK - STARTING FRIDAY, JULY 22
at Cinema Village - Director Nanfu Wang in-person!


LOS ANGELES - STARTING FRIDAY, JULY 29
at Laemmle Music Hall - Director Nanfu Wang in-person!
at Laemmle Playhouse


Additional Cities to Follow
 
“Hooligan Sparrow” debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January;
Was Opening Night Film at Human Rights Watch Film Festival New York 2016

From Director Nanfu Wang, who followed a group of activist seeking justice for school children who were raped by their principal; the activists and Wang were subsequently chased around the country by secret police and angry mobs incited by the Chinese government. 
 
Synopsis: The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China, to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and faced interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media.

Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights.

Hooligan Sparrow is Nanfu Wang’s feature debut. It’s executive produced by Andy Cohen, Executive Producer for Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Special Jury Prize, Sundance 2012) and Alison Klayman, Director/Producer of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry; co-written by Mark Monroe, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and six-time Sundance veteran: The Cove (Winner, Best Documentary 2010 Academy Awards & Best Documentary Script, W.G.A. 2010); with original score by Nathan Halpern, Rich Hill (Grand Jury Prize, 2015), and graphics by Garry Waller, Watchers of the Sky (Special Jury Prize, Sundance 2014). 

Filmmaker Statement - By Nanfu Wang:

I first heard about Ye Haiyan (who is known more widely by her nickname, Hooligan Sparrow, in China) a few years ago when I read an article online about a Chinese woman who was offering to work as a sex worker – for free. I’ve lived in China most of my life, and I’ve always been interested in issues related to sex workers’ rights, so I was curious to learn more about this woman and what motivated her. Sparrow had a long history of advocating for women’s rights in China, and her offer of free sex in the Ten Yuan Brothel stemmed from a desire to expose the terrible working conditions in the brothel and also the desperate lives of the migrant workers who visited them.

As I researched Sparrow, I learned that like me, she came from a poor farming village with limited access to education. I appreciated her respect for people whom Chinese society rejected, and I shared her desire to understand their lives more deeply. I reached out to her via e-mail in early 2013 to see if she’d be willing to let me film her as part of a larger video project about sex workers in China. She replied, “When you’re in China, we’ll talk.”

On May 14th, 2013, I returned to China from the U.S where I had lived for two years at the time. When I landed and got a hold of her, she was in the midst of preparing for a public protest with a number of other activists. Two government officials in southern China had taken six schoolgirls to a hotel for a night, and the local government seemed poised to hand down a perfunctory sentence. Sparrow and her fellow activists wanted justice to be served for the girls and their families, so they planned to stage a public demonstration denouncing the government and the officials, a move that could land all of them in prison.

The chain of events I witnessed in the months that followed the protest shocked me. I’ve never had illusions about fairness in China’s justice system or the accountability of its government. But I never expected to see ordinary people turn on their neighbors who were fighting for their rights. I never expected to be attacked by screaming mobs just for filming on the street. I never expected to be interrogated by national security agents, and that my family and friends would be harassed and threatened by secret police.

But this is the China I saw.

TRAILERhttp://www.hooligansparrow.com or https://vimeo.com/167259439

July 16, 2016

Governor Cuomo Directs Flags to Half-Staff to Honor Victims of Attack in Nice, France

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has directed that flags on State government buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims of last night’s attack in Nice, France. New York State joins the nation and communities across the world in mourning those lost in this senseless tragedy.

Governor Cuomo has also directed State law enforcement officials to increase security at high-profile locations across New York. Additional law enforcement personnel are deployed across the downstate region and the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is monitoring mass gathering events statewide. Flags will be flown at half-staff through Tuesday, July 19.

statement from Governor Cuomo on the attack in Nice, France is available below.

“The horrific rampage in Nice is a direct attack on the universal values our two countries have long championed and upheld. As the French people came together to celebrate liberty and unity on their independence day, extremists sought to undermine it with hate and intolerance. They will not succeed. New York stands united with France and all our allies in the face of terror. This is not only an attack on France, but an attack on democracy.

"I have directed state law enforcement officials to step up security at high-profile locations around the state, including our airports, bridges, tunnels and mass transit systems. The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Emergency Management Watch Center will be on heightened alert, monitoring world events. DHSES regional staff have all been notified to maintain a heightened state of awareness at mass gathering events. The New York State Police and the Joint Task Force Empire Shield have deployed additional troops in the New York metropolitan region. Public safety is paramount, and New York will continue to work aggressively with all local and federal partners to keep residents and visitors safe.

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the people of France, the families who have lost loved ones, and all those grieving around the world.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio: All Flags to Fly at Half-Staff Effective Today in Honor of Victims of the Attack in Nice, France

City Hall will also be lit in the colors of the French flag


NEW YORK––As a mark of respect for the victims of the attack perpetrated in Nice, France on July 14, 2016, all flags shall be lowered to half-staff, effective immediately, by order of the Mayor of the City of New York, Bill de Blasio. This includes all flags – the New York State and City flags, and the POW-MIA flag – on all City buildings, as well as stationary flagstaffs throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York. Flags shall remain lowered to half-staff until sunset on July 19, 2016. In addition, City Hall will also be lit in the colors of the French flag beginning today through Monday morning, July 18, 2016.
“Our hearts go out to the people of Nice and the people of France. This is unfortunately not the first time they have been through this kind of horrible attack. However, the people of France have proven that they can rebound from tragic events like this, finding strength in unity rather than division. With respect to our city, we are on alert every day and have reinforced offices and locations associated with the French government. Whether it’s a July 4th or New Year’s Eve celebration, we extensively secure areas where events are taking place with blockades and other measures to keep this kind of attack from happening,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

July 14, 2016

Asian American International Film Festival Announces 2016 Program


NEW YORK – The 39th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), presented by Asian CineVision, announces the schedule of screenings to be held from July 21 to July 30 at various venues in Manhattan and Flushing, Queens. AAIFF 2016 celebrates the variety of Asian and Asian American films and artists by presenting ten days of events. As the nation’s oldest and longest running Asian interest film festival, AAIFF 2016 is proud to present films to represent the diversity in cast and themes in this field.
OPENING NIGHT: SPA NIGHT
In his feature debut, director Andrew Ahn shares the Korean-American immigration story with homage to Korean spas, which often serve as a meeting place and bridge between cross-generations of immigrant families. Following the lives of one struggling family, SPA NIGHT explores the complexities and realities when personal desire, disillusionment, and sense of tradition overlap with one another.

SPA NIGHT will screen on Thursday, July 21st at 7:00pm at Asia Society.
CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION: A TALE OF THREE CITIES
Based on the true story of Jackie Chan’s parents and brought to the screen by two of Asia’s biggest stars, Sean Lau (MY NAME IS FAME, LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE, OVERHEARD 3) and Tang Wei (LUST, CAUTION; FINDING MR. RIGHT; THE GOLDEN ERA; BLACKHAT), director Mabel Cheung tells a story about love that reflects a generation’s strength in a time of despair, and a country’s hope for a brighter future.

A TALE OF THREE CITIES will screen on Saturday, July 23rd at 3:00pm at Village Cinema East.
CLOSING NIGHT: FRONT COVER
FRONT COVER tells the story of Ryan Fu, a gay Chinese-American who has learnt to suppress his Chinese heritage to climb up the social ladder as a fashion stylist. Ryan gets assigned to Ning, an actor from Beijing and their egos and opinions clash, resulting in a difficult working relationship. Soon enough, however, a mutual attraction begins to develop. As they fall in love, a Chinese tabloid magazine exposes Ning as gay. Ryan must now decide whether to help Ning or stay true to himself. Directed by Ray Yeung (CUT SLEEVE BOYS), FRONT COVER is a “bittersweet dramatic comedy that looks at the Asian American experience with humor, irony, and insight.”

FRONT COVER will screen on Saturday, July 30th at 8:00 pm at the Museum of Moving Image.

AAIFF IN FLUSHING
For the second year in a row, AAIFF 2016 is returning to Flushing to celebrate one of New York’s fastest-growing and vibrant Asian American communities. This year, AAIFF will be showing PEOPLE ARE THE SKY on Tuesday, July 26th; BRIGHT SUN MANSION on Wednesday, July 27th; and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA on Thursday, July 28th at Flushing Town Hall.
NEW YORK CITY PREMIERES
AAIFF 2016 is proud to present the following films as New York premieres.
Arrested at 16 and tried as an adult for kidnapping and robbery, Eddy Zheng served over 20 years in California prisons and jails. Ben Wang’s BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY paints an intimate portrait of Eddy—the prisoner, the immigrant, the son, the activist—on his journey to freedom, rehabilitation and redemption.
Born in Cambodia in 1975 during the bloody regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, filmmaker Mike Siv and his mother barely escaped the infamous “killing fields.”  Growing up as a refugee in America, Mike has been haunted by the ghosts of memory ever since. “Our parents don’t want to talk about the past, and the next generation inherits the scars of their silence.”  Thirty-five years later, Mike is given the opportunity to film a small group of Cambodian Americans who are civil parties in an historic trial against the Khmer Rouge. Given the opportunity to face the very criminals who forever changed their lives, the survivors are joined by an unexpected guest who happens to be the son of one of their most hated enemies. Mike Siv is undertaking DAZE OF JUSTICE as a culminating project through which he will establish himself as an independent documentary filmmaker.  
PAINTED NAILS brings us unprecedented insight into the personal nature of the political movement to regulate one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. The documentary follows Van Nguyen, a Vietnamese nail salon owner and worker in the Mission District of San Francisco, who serves an ethnically diverse group of working class women with acrylic nails and intricate airbrush designs. However, lack of oversight has allowed the cosmetics industry to pour unregulated amounts of toxic chemicals into nail products, some of which are known to cause reproductive harm, cancer, and respiratory illness. After learning that her near-daily exposure to these chemicals has caused her life-threatening health problems, Van becomes a resolute activist in the fight to regulate chemicals in personal care products, advocating for the safety of nail salon workers and their clientele. Providing a unique glimpse into the world of women, their nails, and the people who paint them, PAINTED NAILS takes us from the simple pleasures of manicures to Van and her family's fulfilling transformation.
TYRUS is about the unlikely and untold story of 105-year old Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong, who overcame poverty and racism to become a celebrated modernist painter, Hollywood sketch artist, and ‘Disney Legend’ for his groundbreaking work on the classic animated film, Bambi. Tyrus’s incredible rise to acclaim shines against a common backdrop in the story of Chinese-Americans in the 20th century.
Director Lam Can-zhao leads a small film crew as they shoot a film about a stray dog in the streets of Guangzhou, leading the viewer into an unpredictable, peculiar and incredible journey. Shot documentary-style while employing characteristics of hybrid cinema, THE DOG’s low-tech, casual style reveals a wealth of stories that reflects both the authenticity and occasional absurdity of the living situations of migrant workers and of those who otherwise live “below the line.” As the debut feature film directed by Lam, THE DOG reads more like a lonely rebel's exploration and revelation to the world.
On the surface, Ollie and Blair are a typical fun, young couple – comfortable enough to be constantly picking at each other's flaws, secure enough to start making long-term plans together. They just happen to earn a dishonest living by breaking and entering into poorly secured, upper-class homes. Directed by Viet Nguyen and starring Christopher Dinh (EVERYTHING BEFORE US) and Katie Savoy (FIRELIGHT, THE RESTORATION, EVERYTHING BEFORE US), CRUSH THE SKULL is a “mix of throwback genre tropes (including some great scene of gore taken to extreme and humorous heights) and straight-up comedy,” as IndieWire puts it.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION is about Roya, a modern middle-class Muslim woman struggles to find herself in the sprawl of urban Bangladesh. After being replaced by a younger actor for the character of ‘Nandini’—the epitome of Bengali womanhood, the central character of Rabindranath Tagore’s political play ‘Red Oleanders;’ she delves into a psychological journey and battles to reconstruct ‘Nandini,’ reclaiming her identity and sexuality in the process. As she sets the play in a modern day ready-made garment factories in Dhaka; her journey to establish her individuality as a middle class woman is juxtaposed with the journey of her teenage housemaid Moyna, who later joins the industrial workforce.
In HOLLOW, A 6-year-old girl falls into a river and drowns. One week later, her uncle, a police captain, travels to a remote village to claim her corpse, only to find that the girl is very much alive. He brings her home, but does not tell her parents that she was found dead. Strange things begin to happen as her family discovers that she is possessed.
Dongguan is simultaneously the manufacturing hub and inadvertent sex capital of China; it is home to 1.7 million female factory workers, 300,000 of which comprised of former factory girls turned sex workers. It is here that 22-year- old country girl, Jolin, has worked for the past five years, and where her story begins. JOLIN is a documentary that focuses on a former factory girl, 22-year-old Jolin, who is the only child of her family and has found work as a stripper in Dongguan. She undergoes risky plastic surgery to look more 'sexy' and tries to find her estranged father for reasons that go beyond healing her fractured family. She hopes to leave Dongguan behind and become a famous actress in Shanghai. Jolin's story depicts a young girl's “Chinese Dream” and the sadness of China's loneliest generation.
Huang Dawang is a eccentric musician, noise performer, music aficionado, and a pillar of Taiwan’s underground music scene but also denies himself as an artists and refuses to define what art is. TPE-TICS is an intimate look into his way of life – incredibly different from the norm, largely incompatible with society. As links between Huang’s past trauma and present creations are revealed, his psychological anxiety is at once enlightening and heartbreaking. Despite his bouts of depression, Huang’s humour and witty introspection relieves the melancholy. More than merely music, the film examines human experiences and nuanced values that are precious yet rarely accessible.
NORTH AMERICA PREMIERE
The Kingdom of Bhutan is the only remaining Vajrayana Buddhist country in the world today. The major difference between Vajrayana Buddhism and other Buddhist sects is the incorporation of the thangka, intricately painted scrolls that act as a form of spiritual and historical storytelling, in mediation. Because of decades of neglect, thousands of ancient masterpieces and the rich cultural heritage embedded in every scroll, are on the brink of being lost forever. By a twist of fate, an American art conservation master courses paths with four monks and a royal scholar, thus embarking on a lifelong journey to restore thee holy relics to their former glory. 1000 HANDS OF GURU follows the Conservation Workshop team over the course of three years as they race against a mass extinction of their living culture, and learn the art of letting go along the way.

INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE  
Roy Payamal is the wildest busker of a country ranked the world’s most emotionless society. An old-time pioneer of the local scene, dubbed ‘Silver Man’, he creates mind-boggling acts, taking his undermined profession as a serious art- but is his faith impossible idealism or an admirable conviction? Unraveling the nation's bureaucratic reaches, a discourse on culture and expression plays out, co-starring Roy’s eccentric street colleagues. Flowing kaleidoscopically from interviews and fantasy sequences, to Roy’s handphone footage of his everyday life, SINGAPORE MINSTREL is an invitation into his beautiful mind, a magical, trying universe where art and life dialogue in a tropical dream.
To learn more about the full schedule of events, visit http://aaiff.org/2016.
Festival Ticket Information
Tickets for general admission are $15. Tickets for seniors (65+), students and handicapped (must present valid ID) are $11. Tickets for ACV members and Community Partners are $11.00. Tickets are available for purchase on AAIFF’s website. For Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing Night Events, please check website for ticket details.
General Festival Information
The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is a presentation of Asian CineVision. The festival is a celebration of inspiring Asian and Asian American works in film and video from innovative artists around the world. AAIFF 2016 takes place July 21- July 30, 2016 in Manhattan and Queens. Manhattan venues include: Village Cinema East (181-189 2nd Avenue); Asia Society (725 Park Avenue); Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre Street); and the Writers Guild of America (250 Hudson Street) Queens venues include: Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria); and Flushing Town Hall (13735 Northern Boulevard, Flushing).
About Asian CineVision:
Asian CineVision (ACV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media arts organization devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American film and video.

Photos | In New York, People Marched for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile & Delrawn Small

People gathered in Union Square for a second day to express their sentiments, in response to the deaths of Delrawn Small on Monday July 4, in Brooklyn, NY; Alton Sterling on Tuesday July 5, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and of Philando Castile on Wednesday July 6, in Minneapolis MN. The protesters then marched the streets of Manhattan. A separate vigil for justice, peace and hope took place in Harlem. July 8, 2016. New York.

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media/ CC BY
















July 13, 2016

PHOTOS: Filipinos Celebrate 'West Philippine Sea' Decision, Rally at United Nations HQ in New York

Ms. Loida Nicolas Lewis, lawyer, philanthropist and West Philippine Sea advocate lead the community in a victory rally across the United Nations headquarters on the day the Permanent Court of Arbitration made public its decision on, The South China Sea Arbitration. July 12, 2016. New York.

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media/ CC BY


Ms. Loida Nicolas Lewis of the US Filipinos for Good Governance USPGG.ORG speaking at the rally.


A thanksgiving prayer read by Dr. Angie Cruz.


Speaking at the rally is lawyer Merit Salud of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations NaFFAA and Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund FALDEF
A demonstration of the Filipino Martial Arts by Kinding Sindaw

Filipinos gather in front of the UN headquarters in NYC.


Potri Ranka Manis of Kinding Sindaw speaks at the rally.




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PERMANENT COURT OF ARBITRATION

PRESS RELEASE


THE SOUTH CHINA SEA ARBITRATION
(THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES V. THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA) 


The Hague, 12 July 2016

The Tribunal Renders Its Award

A unanimous Award has been issued today by the Tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the “Convention”) in the arbitration instituted by the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China.

This arbitration concerned the role of historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of certain maritime features and the maritime entitlements they are capable of generating, and the lawfulness of certain actions by China that were alleged by the Philippines to violate the Convention. In light of limitations on compulsory dispute settlement under the Convention, the Tribunal has emphasized that it does not rule on any question of sovereignty over land territory and does not delimit any boundary between the Parties.

China has repeatedly stated that “it will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.” Annex VII, however, provides that the “[a]bsence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings.Annex VII also provides that, in the event that a party does not participate in the proceedings, a tribunal “must satisfy itself not only that it has jurisdiction over the dispute but also that the claim is well founded in fact and law.” Accordingly, throughout these proceedings, the Tribunal has taken steps to test the accuracy of the Philippines’ claims, including by requesting further written submissions from the Philippines, by questioning the Philippines both prior to and during two hearings, by appointing independent experts to report to the Tribunal on technical matters, and by obtaining historical evidence concerning features in the South China Sea and providing it to the Parties for comment.

China has also made clearthrough the publication of a Position Paper in December 2014 and in other official statementsthat, in its view, the Tribunal lacks jurisdiction in this matter. Article 288 of the Convention provides that: “In the event of a dispute as to whether a court or tribunal has jurisdiction, the matter shall be settled by decision of that court or tribunal.” Accordingly, the Tribunal convened a hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility in July 2015 and rendered an Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility on 29 October 2015, deciding some issues of jurisdiction and deferring others for further consideration. The Tribunal then convened a hearing on the merits from 24 to 30 November 2015.

The Award of today’s date addresses the issues of jurisdiction not decided in the Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility and the merits of the Philippines’ claims over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction. The Award is final and binding, as set out in Article 296 of the Convention and Article 11 of Annex VII.

Historic Rights and the ‘Nine-Dash Line’: The Tribunal found that it has jurisdiction to consider the Parties’ dispute concerning historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. On the merits, the Tribunal concluded that the Convention comprehensively allocates rights to maritime areas and that protections for pre-existing rights to resources were considered, but not adopted in the Convention. Accordingly, the Tribunal concluded that, to the extent China had historic rights to resources in the waters of the South China Sea, such rights were extinguished to the extent they were incompatible with the exclusive economic zones provided for in the Convention. The Tribunal also noted that, althoughChinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other States, had historically made use of the islands in the South China Sea, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources. The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’.


Status of Features: The Tribunal next considered entitlements to maritime areas and the status of features. The Tribunal first undertook an evaluation of whether certain reefs claimed by China are above water at high tide. Features that are above water at high tide generate an entitlement to at least a 12 nautical mile territorial sea, whereas features that are submerged at high tide do not. The Tribunal noted that the reefs have been heavily modified by land reclamation and construction, recalled that the Convention classifies features on their natural condition, and relied on historical materials in evaluating the features. The Tribunal then considered whether any of the features claimed by China could generate maritime zones beyond 12 nautical miles. Under the Convention, islands generate an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and a continental shelf, but “[r]ocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.” The Tribunal concluded that this provision depends upon the objective capacity of a feature, in its natural condition, to sustain either a stable community of people or economic activity that is not dependent on outside resources or purely extractive in nature. The Tribunal noted that the current presence of official personnel on many of the features is dependent on outside support and not reflective of the capacity of the features. The Tribunal found historical evidence to be more relevant and noted that the Spratly Islands were historically used by small groups of fishermen and that several Japanese fishing and guano mining enterprises were attempted. The Tribunal concluded that such transient use does not constitute inhabitation by a stable community and that all of the historical economic activity had been extractive. Accordingly, the Tribunal concluded that none of the Spratly Islands is capable of generating extended maritime zones. The Tribunal also held that the Spratly Islands cannot generate maritime zones collectively as a unit. Having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, the Tribunal found that it couldwithout delimiting a boundarydeclare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.

Lawfulness of Chinese Actions: The Tribunal next considered the lawfulness of Chinese actions in the South China Sea. Having found that certain areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, the Tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The Tribunal also held that fishermen from the Philippines (like those from China) had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels.

Harm to Marine Environment: The Tribunal considered the effect on the marine environment of China’s recent large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands at seven features in the Spratly Islands and found that China had caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened, or endangered species. The Tribunal also found that Chinese authorities were aware that Chinese fishermen have harvested endangered sea turtles, coral, and giant clams on a substantial scale in the South China Sea (using methods that inflict severe damage on the coral reef environment) and had not fulfilled their obligations to stop such activities.

Aggravation of Dispute: Finally, the Tribunal considered whether China’s actions since the commencement of the arbitration had aggravated the dispute between the Parties. The Tribunal found that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the implications of a stand-off between Philippine marines and Chinese naval and law enforcement vessels at Second Thomas Shoal, holding that this dispute involved military activities and was therefore excluded from compulsory settlement. The Tribunal found, however, that China’s recent large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands was incompatible with the obligations on a State during dispute resolution proceedings, insofar as China has inflicted irreparable harm to the marine environment, built a large artificial island in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and destroyed evidence of the natural condition of features in the South China Sea that formed part of the Parties’ dispute.

The Press Release with an expanded summary of the Tribunal’s decisions can be viewed here.