War, terrorism, forced ethnic assimilation and family psychology are just some of the topics explored in the spate of films that have been selected for the 2017 Asian Film Festival. The festival features five films in three days and is held in conjunction with a juried art and photography show and an exhibit by Bonsai Kaihara. Show up a little early because each showing is preceded by prize drawings and a themed, musical performance by Flautist Jennie Hill. A discussion will follow each film screening.
The film schedule is as follows:
Aug. 11, 7 p.m.
“Bridge on the River Kwai”
This 1957 sweeping epic was the winner of seven Academy Awards to include “Best Picture,” “Best Director,” “Best Actor” and “Best Musical Score.” The film is based on a World War II action to destroy a Japanese railroad bridge being built by captured British soldiers along the Thai-Burma border. The British Film Institute ranks “Bridge on the River Kwai” as the 10th greatest British film of the 20th Century. In 1997 the film was deemed culturally, historically and aesthetically significant and selected for preservation in the American Library of Congress. The film stars Oscar winner Alex Guinness in the role of a lifetime plus Oscar nominated Japanese star Sessue Hayakawa, American star William Holden and British actor Jack Hawkins. Rated PG-13, 161 minutes.
Aug. 12, 2 p.m.
“Rabbit Proof Fence”
This gripping 2002 Australian film tells the true story of three young aboriginal girls taken by force from their tribe and relocated to a special girls education camp 1,500 miles away. They escape and the hunt begins. The film features a sound track by Peter Gabriel and won an impressive number of awards internationally. Rated PG, 94 minutes.
Aug. 12, 7 p.m.
Saturday’s second feature is the breathtaking 2016 Indian thriller “Airlift,” the high voltage, true story of the world’s largest human evacuation. This edge of your seat thriller starts with Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which traps more than 150,000 Indian workers in the middle of a war … and their lives depend on one man. A “stunning, must watch film” starring Bollywood sensation Akshay Kumar, the film won the 2016 Zee Cine Award for Best Background Score and Kumar won the 2017 National Film Award for Best Actor in his role as Indian businessman Ranjit Katyal. Rated PG-13, 124 minutes.
Aug. 13, 2 p.m.
“Like Father, Like Son”
This 2013 Japanese film tells the emotional story of a family who learns their 6-year-old son is not their child. The drama, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize. It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and won the Rogers People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival. DreamWorks Studios obtained remake rights to the film after it drew the notice of Steven Spielberg at Cannes. It runs 120 minutes.
Aug. 13, 7 p.m.
The final film event, “Neerja,” is the breathtaking, true story of a young Indian flight attendant who risks her life to save passengers from terrorists on a hijacked airliner. The 2016 Indian thriller centers on the Libyan-backed Abu Nidal Organization’s hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sept. 5, 1986. The film is shown from the point of view of the flight’s head purser, Neerja Bhanot, who thwarted the hijack attempt by alerting the pilots, thus grounding the plane. Again, the film has garnered a ton of awards. It runs 121 minutes.
The Asian Film Fest is put together by Lakewood Arts Commission member and local historian Phil Raschke (“Historical Phil” on his KLAY radio show). Raschke said that the Asian Film Fest got its start when a former member of the arts commission noticed that, in a city as diverse as Lakewood, the Asian community seemed underrepresented in the round of cultural events held in the public sphere. The Lakewood Playhouse hosted the first two editions of the festival before it was moved to the Lakewood Elks Club, where there was more room. This is the first year that the film festival will take place at Pierce College.
It will be held at Pierce College, Fort Steilacoom campus, Cascade Building, fourth floor. Admission and parking are free. Seating is on a first-come basis. For further information, visit cityoflakewood.us/parks-and-recreation/special-events.