The 3rd annual Asian World Film Festival (AWFF) came to a close on Thursday, November 2, culminating the screening of 37 films from 25 participating countries including 22 Oscar® Foreign Language contenders and a number of Golden Globe submissions. George Takei’s Allegiance: The Broadway Musical on the Big Screen concluded the festival and was preceded by an awards ceremony hosted by actors Christopher Kriesa (Fresh Off the Boat, Cast Away), Alexandra Kahwagi and Korean actress Banyah Maria Choi presenting the awards to a sold-out audience. The AWFF took place from October 25 – November 2 at the ArcLight Culver City Theater.
George Takei was honored with the Snow Leopard Lifetime Achievement Award for his activism work within the LBGTQ community. Vietnamese actress, singer and philanthropist Ha Phuong presented the award.
Dr. Kim’s ‘He Can Do She Can Do’ Award, presented by Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions was awarded to A Taxi Driver (Dir: Jang Hoon, Republic of Korea). The $10,000 award was presented by Peter MaGuire, an executive at Lighthouse Solutions, and the film was chosen by a jury designated by the company.
The Snow Leopard Rising Star Award was presented to Sreymoch Sareum for her role in First They Killed My Father. The film’s director, producer and co-screenwriter Angelina Jolie and co-screenwriter and executive producer, Loung Ong, accepted the award on Sreymoch’s behalf at a special screening of the film earlier in the week (October 30). During the closing night ceremony, the award was re-presented by Jury president Lisa Lu to Olary Yim, Cambodian community leader. The award will be taken back to Cambodia and given to Sreymoch.
The Spirit Award for Dedication and Passion was given to Vietnamese actress Ha Phuong and presented by the Festival’s chairman and founder, Sadyk Sher-Niyaz.
The Murray Weissman Poster Art Award was given to Little Gandhi (Dir: Sam Kadi, Syria; designer: Brian A. Metcalf) and presented by Korean actress, Banyah Maria Choi. Little Gandhi is Syria’s 2017 Foreign Language Film Oscar contender.
From a total of 16 films in competition, The AWFF Jury Awards, presented by members of the Jury, were:
- Snow Leopard Best Picture: A Taxi Driver (Dir: Jang Joon, Republic of Korea) presented by Sergei Bodrov and accepted by Park Un-Kyoung.
- Snow Leopard Best Actor: Actor and director, Aktan Arym Kubat in Centaur, (Kyrgyzstan) presented by Nancy Wang Yuen.
- Snow Leopard Best Actress: Anoma Janadari in Burning Birds (Dir: Sanjeewa Pushpaumara, Sri Lanka) presented by Cade Carradine. A Special Mention was given to Kang-ho Song in A Taxi Driver by Banyah Maria Choi.
- Snow Leopard Special Jury Award: Mad World (Dir: Wong Chun, Hong Kong) presented by Tuba Büyüküstün.
- Snow Leopard Audience Award was given to Ayla: The Daughter of War (Dir: Can Ulkay, Turkey). The Award was presented by Nathan Wang and accepted by the film’s actor Cade Carradine.
- Snow Leopard Best New Director Award was awarded to two winners: Scary Mother Dir: Ana Urushadze (Georgia) presented by Thomas Lin and How Victor “The Garlic” Took Alexey “The Stud” To The Nursing Home Dir: Alexander Hant (Russia) presented by Igor Kokarev.
Guests in attendance from the closing night film included Allegiance star George Takei, who was joined by director Lorenzo Thione and co-stars Janelle Dote and Greg Watanabe.
Jury members in attendance included Lisa Lu (The Joy Luck Club); Oscar®-nominated director Sergei Bodrov; actress and international Emmy® nominee Tuba Büyüküstün; actor and director Thomas Lim (China/Singapore); singer and philanthropist Ha Phuong; US music composer, Nathan Wang; Caylee So Filmmaker and Director of Cambodia Town Film Festival; Cade Carradine US actor; and Nancy Wang Yeun, Ph.D. (US) documentary producer and author of “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism.”
Celebrity guests included Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Janet Yang (The Joy Luck Club Producer), Peter Kwong (Big Trouble In Little China), Bai Ling, Kieu Chinh (The Joy Luck Club) and producer Andre Morgan.
Twenty-five filmmakers from all over the world attended the festival including Sam Kadi (Syria), Phillippe Aractingi (Lebanon), Pierre Saraff, (Lebanon), Sanjeewa Pushpakumara (Sri Lanka), Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal), Bayram Najafov (Azerbaijan), Aktan Arym Kubat, Murat Aliyev (Kyrgystan) Najia Khaan (Afghanistan), Ha Phoung (Vietnam), Jarantai Altantsetseg, Ganjuur Tsogtgerel, Tsengel Davaasambuu (Mongolia), Xiao Dong Xie (China), Rekesh Salim Ismail (Iraq), Farhan Alam (Pakistan), Kurmashev Ernar (Kazakhstan) Gaukhar Gia Noortas (Kazakhstan) and Karinne Behr (France).
The festival also held five panels featuring industry leaders discussing such topics as producing, the filmmaking process, sales and distribution, social media and cross- cultural collaboration.