Here’s What You Missed at the 37th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

After going virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival finally returned to L.A. on Sept. 23, opening with the Los Angeles premiere of the documentary “Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust.”

The festival included in-person as well as virtual panels with filmmakers and other creatives, in addition to showings of features like the documentary “Accepted,” superhero flick “Lumpia With a Vengeance” and Christopher Makoto Yogi’s Sundance release “I Was a Simple Man.” But the LAAPFF also gave plenty of love to short films, with several different showcases on offer for guests. The fest closed on Oct. 2 with a screening of Dante Basco’s long-awaited feature directorial debut, “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers.”

Character Media got the chance to chat with many of the LAAPFF’s creatives soon after the festival began. For many filmmakers, the event provides a crucial opportunity to address real-life issues through storytelling. “You see that there is a need now for representation, stories, especially with all the anti-Asian sentiment,” said Patricio Ginelsa, director of “Lumpia With a Vengeance.” “People are realizing now that representation does matter.”

That representation can take many different forms, too. The immense variety of the films and panels on show at the LAAPFF display the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences.“To see all this new ground get broken ultimately helps us all tell a variety of perspectives because we don’t have just one story, we have many stories among us,” “Accepted” director Dan Chen said. “I’m excited at the breadth of stories that can be told because Asian American directors are breaking new ground right now.”

Following a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place restrictions, the festival also provided a much-needed in-person outlet for creators to connect with one another and film fans once again. Debbie Lum, the director of the documentary feature “Try Harder!” said, “The best part of [it] is really the audiences. People actually care and are really excited about it, and I’m meeting all these young AAPI filmmakers that are totally talented and inspirational.”

Watch our full interviews with the filmmakers above, and make sure to save the date for the next LAAPFF, now scheduled for May 2022!