Asian and Asian American Films in Sundance 2015


In 2002, Better Luck Tomorrow made a splashy buzz at Sundance Film Festival, complete with a rousing defense from the late Roger Ebert. Since then, there has been a steady increase of Asian and Asian American representation in films.

This year, Sundance runs from Jan 22 – February 15, 2015 in Park City, Utah. Check out our picks from the 2015 Lineup which include Asian/Asian American actors, writers and even directors.



1) “Advantageous”
(U.S. Dramatic Competition) 

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U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Phang, Screenwriters: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang) – In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim.



2) “Songs My Brothers Taught Me”
(U.S. Dramatic Competition) 

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U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chloe Zhao) – This complex portrait of modern-day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister, who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home. Cast: John Reddy, Jashaun St. John, Irene Bedard, Taysha Fuller, Travis Lone Hill, Eleonore Hendricks.



3) “The Chinese Mayor”
(World Documentary Competition) 

China (Director: Hao Zhou) – Mayor Geng Yanbo is determined to transform the coal-mining center of Datong, in China ‘s Shanxi province, into a tourism haven showcasing clean energy. In order to achieve that, however, he has to relocate 500,000 residences to make way for the restoration of the ancient city. World Premiere.



4) “Umrika”
(World Dramatic Competition) 

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India (Director and screenwriter: Prashant Nair) – When a young village boy discovers that his brother, long believed to be in America, has actually gone missing, he begins to invent letters on his behalf to save their mother from heartbreak, all the while searching for him. Cast: Suraj Sharma, Tony Revolori, Smita Tambe, Adil Hussain, Rajesh Tailang, Prateik Babbar. World Premiere.



5) “Oh Lucy!”
(U.S. Narrative Short Film)
Japan, Singapore, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Atsuko Hirayanagi) – Setsuko, a 55-year-old single so-called office lady in Tokyo, is given a blonde wig and a new identity, “Lucy,” by her young unconventional English-language teacher. “Lucy” awakens desires in Setsuko she never knew existed.



6) “I am Hong Kong” 
(International Narrative Short Film)
China (Director and screenwriter: Flora Lau) – The recent Umbrella Movement, ignited by the youth of Hong Kong, shows how citizens’ passion and desire for a more fair and just future can bring about a peaceful but powerful social movement, despite criticism, defamation and attacks.



7) “Hotel 22”
(International Narrative Short Film)
U.S.A. (Director: Elizabeth Lo) – Each night in Silicon Valley, the Line 22 public bus transforms into an unofficial shelter for the homeless. This film captures one dramatic night on the “Hotel 22” bus.



8) “Seoul Searching”

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U.S.A., Korea (Director and screenwriter: Benson Lee) – Seoul Searching is a comedy set in the ’80s about a group of foreign-born Korean teenagers who meet at a Seoul summer camp to learn what it means to be Korean. The three boys, from the U.S., Mexico, and Germany, then meet three girls who rock their world. Cast: Justin Chon, Jessika Van, In-pyo Cha, Teo Yoo, Esteban Ahn, Byul Kang



9) “1979 Revolution Game”
(New frontier installations) 
Artists: Navid Khonsari, Vassiliki Khonsari

1979 Revolution Game presents an innovative approach to non-fiction storytelling. Designed to engage players with an immersive “on the ground” experience of the Iranian Revolution, the game integrates an emotionally impactful narrative with interactive moral choices and intuitive touchscreen gameplay while remaining true to history.



10) “Possibilia”
(New frontier installations) 

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Artists: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

Possibilia is a multi-layered narrative experience from acclaimed directing duo the Daniels. The story of two quarreling lovers splits exponentially into more and more possible worlds as their relationship unravels. Cast: Alex Karpovsky, Zoe Jarman.



11) “Zero Point”
(New frontier installations)

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Artist: Danfung Dennis Zero Point, a 3-D and 360-degree documentary for the Oculus Rift headset, creates an entirely new digital dimension. From combat training simulations to research labs at Stanford to indie game developers and hackers, this immersive experience highlights the future of virtual reality.



12) “99 Homes”
(Sundance spotlight) 

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U.S.A. (Director: Ramin Bahrani, Screenwriters: Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi, Bahareh Azimi) – A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real-estate broker who’s the source of his frustration. Cast: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, Cullen Moss, J.D. Evermore.



For the full lineup of films, please visit the official Sundance website. And let us know which films you are most excited for in the comments below!


Film descriptions courtesy of Sundance.