Beauty and the South East: Multi-Awarded PH Films Set to Premiere at San Diego Asian Film Festival

The San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) went online to bring you their first-ever virtual film festival showcasing more than 125 films from 24 countries in 34 languages with over 50 Q&As! Included in the film festival is the Philippines, which continues the momentum with a powerhouse lineup.

This year, six Filipino films have been selected for the 21st San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) to be held on Oct. 23 to 31 in San Diego, California.

If you are in the area, you can also try their Drive-In Cinema experience. Wearing costumes is highly encouraged according to SDAFF tradition.

The event is hosted by the Pacific Arts Movement, a non-profit media arts organization, and is considered the largest exhibition of Asian cinema in the United States.

On its opening night, the film festival will premiere 76, a documentary depicting the first seventy-six days of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China while Down A Dark Stairwell will be the festival’s centerpiece film, a documentary recounting the murder of a Chinese American police officer that ignites one of the largest Asian-American protests in the history.

“This year, we’re starting the festival with a film that reminds us why we’re virtual in 2020. 76 DAYS is about the most devastating pandemic of our times, but it’s also about how individuals and institutions will respond to unprecedented challenges. We hope that it will bring hope and inspiration to our audiences, and we hope it will re-awaken everyone’s excitement about interacting with bold filmmakers like Hao Wu, whose document of front-of-line compassion will be cherished for generations to come.”

says SDAFF Artistic Director Brian Hu

Lav Diaz’s Genus Pan will also premiere in the festival under the Masters’ Category. The film previously won Diaz the Best Director award (Horizons Section) at the Venice Film Festival 2020. 

Aside from the film competition, there will also be a special collection of classic films shown as a part of the program After Life, ​which brings the second golden age of Philippine cinema to the big screen for audiences to enjoy once again.

The announcement of winners will happen on November 1, Sunday through a virtual Awards Gala hosted by Pac Arts Founder Lee Ann Kim and actor Leonardo Nam from HBO’s Westworld.

Here is the list of Filipino films set to premiere at this year’s festival:

Asian American Panorama

Death Of Nintendo (2020)

Director: Raya Martin 

Set in Manila in the 1990s, DEATH OF NINTENDO takes us into the colorful pop culture world of four teenage friends, back in the days when video games were still a novelty. During a summer, Mimaw and her friends Paolo, Kachi and Gilligan go on a journey of self discovery together as they try to one-up each other’s high scores and face life’s obstacles, including puppy love, peer pressure and balancing family tradition with self identity.

Death of Nintendo – TRAILER


Genus Pan (2020)

Director: Lav Diaz 

A look at how much human beings are like animals.

Genus Pan – TRAILER

A Thousand Cuts (2020, documentary)

Director: Ramona S. Diaz 

Journalist Maria Ressa risks her life and freedom as an outspoken critic of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

A Thousand Cuts – TRAILER

After Life (Classics)

Misteryo Sa Tuwa (1984)

Director: Abbo Q. Dela Cruz 

A plane crashes on a small village infested by the Huk rebels in the 1950s and three men, Ponsoy (Tony Santos), Mesiong (Johnny Delgado) and Jamin (Ronnie Lazaro went to the crash site and found a suitcase full of money. They got the suitcase but didn’t report it to the authorities. However when the authorities approach the town mayor to help them find the suitcase and a witness saw the three men who took possession of it, the mayor devises a plan to steal the money for himself.

Misteryo sa Tuwa – RESTORED TRAILER


We Still Have To Close Our Eyes (2019)

Director: John Torres 

A collage of scenes in the periphery of film sets and locations in Manila made to look like a fictional piece, a gift to a baby named Aki Tala who will grow and watch her father’s work for the first time.

We Still Have To Close Our Eyes – TRAILER

The Boat People (2020)

Director: Tuan Andrew Nguyen

Set in an unspecified future, the last humans on earth are children on an island named Bataan. While collecting an unknown past from the ruins and monuments of war, they encounter a deity buried in the sand with more questions than they ever imagined

Excerpt from The Boat People (2020)

Excuse Me, Miss, Miss, Miss (2019)

Director: Sonny Calvento

Vangie turns “mamsir” drudgery into surrealist conspiracy in this hilariously odd department store dystopia.

Excuse Me, Miss, Miss, Miss – TRAILER

Basurero (2019)

Director: Eileen Cabiling

Under cover of night, Filipino fisherman Bong has a side hustle dumping trash into the ocean — except this is no ordinary job. His cargo are the victims of Duterte’s war on drugs.

Basurero – TRAILER

Uncover a conspiracy brewing behind your screen and get indoctrinated into the SDAFF 2020 shenanigans ONLINE!

For more info or to purchase tickets, visit sdaff.org to connect with what’s happening in the motherland by watching some of the latest films and film restorations from the Philippines.

Watch more local films on MOOV, Cinema Centenario’s video on-demand online channel. 

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