Our picks for the 2019 Vancouver Asian Film Festival

Featuring films about Asian Drag Queens to interracial couples, the 23rd annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival has films for everyone.

Back for its 23rd season, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) will takeover the city to highlight the best of Asian filmmaking from around the world (check out our sneak peak here).

This year, film lovers will be able to check out more than ever before.  For those that are unsure where to start and what to see, here is a list of some of our recommendations over the course of the four-day festival. 

In a New York Minute

In A New York Minute Trailer

Screening: Thursday, November 7 at 7:00 PM at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas
Duration: 102 minutes

In A New York Minute follows three strangers connected by a single pregnancy test. Amy Chang is haunted by a past breakup that has manifested into an eating disorder. Meanwhile, Angel Li is caught between a loveless marriage to an American businessman and a passionate affair with a Chinese writer. All the while, Nina moonlights as an escort in order to support herself.

First-time writer and director Ximan Li leads a female-driven production crew to create an intimate character study that interprets love from three different points of view. The spotlight film will play opening night and also features Vancouver’s Ludi Lin, Celia Au of Wu Assassins and more.

In a New York Minute Cold Tea Collective
In A New York Minute cast and crew
Celia Au, Ximan Li, Yi Liu
Photo: Natriya Chuna

Empty By Design

Screening: Saturday, November 9 at 7:30 PM at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas
Duration: 86 minutes

Following the loss of her parents, graduate student Samantha returns to the Philippines while struggling to make a decision regarding what to do upon completing school. Meanwhile, stuntman Eric leaves the U.S. and returns to the Philippines to work on a movie.  While looking to reconnect with the places from his past, he finds himself frustrated from the disconnect after his lengthy departure from home.

Detached from a place once familiar to them both, the two develop a friendship between each other while searching for someone they can relate to.

First-time feature film writer and director Andrea A. Walter describes the film as her love letter to the Philippines. She partners with fellow producer and actor Osric Chau, producer Dante Basco and Crazy Rich Asians’ Chris Pang and more.

Chau will be on a panel on Leading Asian Men in Hollywood, moderated by Cold Tea Collective’s very own lead editor Tim Lam on Saturday November 9th at 11:00am. More info here

Empty By Design Cold Tea Collective
Cast and crew of Empty By Design
Photo: Natriya Chuna

Justice for Vincent

Screening: Saturday, November 9 at 3:00 PM at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas

Duration: 17 minutes

Based on the murder of Vincent Chin, Justice for Vincent is a short film about the death of Chin, a Chinese American citizen who was bludgeoned to death by two auto workers after the victim was mistakenly identified as Japanese.  Believed to be a racially motivated attack, the tragic event took place during the so-called “Japanese Auto Invasion” in Detroit 1982.

Chin’s murder was a catalyst for what was known as the first Pan-Asian civil rights movement in America.

Grandma’s 80th Surprise

Screening: Sunday, November 10 at 5:30 PM at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas

Duration: 10 minutes

Based on his real life love story, Curtis Lum leads a relatable short for all of the interracial couples out there.  In Grandma’s 80th Surprise, Curtis gets ready to introduce his mixed-race girlfriend, Ella, to his formidable family matriarch, Grandma Lily. Chaos ensues as the young man is forced to confront his rigid family traditions, and finally reveal the shocking news to his Grandma – that the love of his life is not Chinese.

This film received “Best 10-Minute short,” “Fan Favourite 10-Minute Short” and “Fan Favourite Best Performance” by Lillian Lim (Grandma) at VAFF’s Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon short filmmaking competition in August, so you’ve got to check out what the hype’s about.

Lum will also be on the Leading Asian Men in Hollywood panel, on Saturday November 9th at 11:00am. More info here.



Screening: Sunday, November 10 at 3:30 PM at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas
Duration: 8 minutes

Fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race? Then you will definitely want to check out Ricecake. The short documentary follows Shay Dior, a key player in Vancouver’s queer asian community. In addition to being the mother of the House of Rice, a drag house that recruits only Asian drag queens, the queen is also a co-founder of Ricecake, Vancouver’s only queer asian party. 

And when you need a break from watching films all day, be sure to check out the panels.  This year, VAFF has introduced the VAFF Industry Panel Series to give the audience an opportunity to learn from experienced professionals. 

For more information about VAFF, visit vaff.org.

Don’t be a stranger and come say hi to us on the red carpet at this weekend’s events, and tag us in your favourite VAFF photos on social media @coldteacollective #coldteacollective.

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People chatting at the Making It documentary screening.

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