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2014 Asian American International Film Festival

The 37th Asian American International Film Festival Announces Award Recipients


August 6, 2014 

37th Asian American International Film Festival Announces the 2014 Award Recipients 

New York, NY, August 6, 2014 – The 37th Asian American International Film Festival closed on August 2nd at Village Cinema East (aka City Cinema Village East) with Ham Tran’s HOW TO FIGHT IN SIX INCH HEELS (2013) and a lively Q&A with producer Timothy Linh Bui.  The screening was followed by an awards ceremony. Asian CineVision is pleased to announce the following award recipients:

Excellence in Short Filmmaking: SUTURES, dir. Tiffanie Hsu

“SUTURES is very well directed, with an imaginative and heartfelt story, and excellent production values.”

Nominated: DELANO MANONGS dir. Marissa Aroy; GRAND CANAL dir. Johnny Ma; HAPPY FUN ROOM dir. Greg Pak; LITTLE GREEN dir. Yu-hsuan Tseng; PULL OVER TO KILL dir. Robbie Ikegami

The jury consisted of Retish Batra, the writer, director and executive producer of Cannes selection THE LUNCHBOX (2013), J.P. Chan, director and writer of New York Times critic’s pick A PICTURE OF YOU (2013) and Tong Shen, writer, poet, actor, social activist, serial entrepreneur, (co-)founder of B&B Media, VFinity and Food-x among other media ventures.

Special Jury Prize: THE RICE BOMBER dir. Cho Li

“With excellent visuals and use of cinematic devices, THE RICE BOMBER passes the wonder story and raw talent into true understanding of the mastery of the art. Whether the viewer is familiar with the story background or not, the sincerity of the screenplay is there. You feel the sense of the character’s and the screenwriter’s belief in equality, faith and justice.”

Emerging Director in Documentary Feature: Tenzin Tsetan Choklay, BRINGING TIBET HOME

“A rare find of a wonderful story of courage with memorable characters and genre elements in “plot” – part political, part drama and part thriller, BRINGING TIBET HOME is superbly done and engaging on the subject matter of the struggle of the Tibetans in exile. “

Emerging Director in Narrative Feature: Charles Chu and Gavin Kelly, CHU AND BLOSSOM

“CHU AND BLOSSOM has solid acting, and a strong and well-developed script. Direction shows the ability of the co-directors to keep both the technical and performance in mind.”

Nominated for the Competition Section: BRINGING TIBET HOME dir. Tenzin Tsetan Choklay, CHU AND BLOSSOM dir. Charles Chu and Gavin Kelly, FRED HO’S LAST YEAR dir. Steven de Castro, PRETTY ROSEBUD dir. Oscar Torre, THE RICE BOMBER dir. Cho Li

The jury consisted of Eric Lau, President of Solar Film/Video productions (AMERICAN PSYCHO and Y TU MAMA TABIEN); Claus Mueller, writer, critic, VP of the Foreign Press Association in New York, and Board member for New York Film and Video Council and the International Film and Television Exchange; and Brandon Ruckdashel, programmer for New Filmmakers Series in New York City.

Audience Choice Award for Documentary Feature: KUMU HINA dirs. Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson
Audience Choice Award for Narrative Feature: CHU AND BLOSSOM, dirs. Charles Chu and Gavin Kelly

The winners of the Audience Choice Awards were determined by audience vote among the feature-length presentations (excluding special presentations).

ONE TO WATCH Award: ANIMALS dir. Stefanos Tai
The One To Watch Award is awarded to a filmmaker under the age of 21 who demonstrates an exceptional talent for film.

Asian American International Screenplay Finalists: MICHAEL’S STORY by Eugene Park, THE TRAGEDY OF ZIAD AND AYSEL by Jisen John Ho, and DONALDINA by Carol Lee Hall

The jury consisted of Christopher Fiore, editor, film director; Clarissa de los Reyes, film director and producer (DOCUMENTED); and Michael Sandoval, Co-chair, Filmmaking Department of New York Film Academy.


As the first and longest running film festival of its kind in USA, AAIFF proudly celebrates its 37th edition in 2014. For over three decades, AAIFF has played a leading role to introduce important Asian American and Asian artists to New York audiences by premiering works by filmmakers such as Cui Zi’en, Lav Diaz, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Ann Hui, Michael Kang, Eric Khoo, Mira Nair, Pang Ho-cheung, Park Chan-wook, Rea Tajiri, Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, Wayne Wang, Edward Yang and Zhang Yang. The Festival also spotlighted films by Oscar-winning artists including Christine Choy, Keiko Ibi, Ang Lee, and Jessica Yu. Please visit for more information.


Ritesh Batra is a writer/director based in Mumbai and New York. In 2009, Batra was selected for the Sundance Writers and Directors labs for his feature project THE STORY OF RAM. He was also named the Sundance Time Warner Storytelling Fellow and an Annenburg Fellow.
His feature screenplay LUNCHBOX won an Honorable Mention from the Jury at the 2012 edition of the Cinemart at the International Film Festival or Rotterdam and was part of the Berlinale Talent Project Market. His upcoming feature FRANCOPHONIE is a French and Hindi language film set in Mumbai.

J.P. Chan is a self-taught filmmaker and playwright living in New York City. His short films have screened at film festivals including Slamdance, SXSW, Tribeca, and Comic-Con. His plays have had productions and readings in New York and Chicago. He is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, holds a graduate degree in urban planning from NYU, and was born in New Jersey to working-class immigrant parents. He makes his movies and plays while working full-time as videographer for the MTA, the New York metro region’s public transportation agency. His first feature film A PICTURE OF YOU had a successful theatrical run and was selected as a New York Times Critic’s Pick.

Chris Fiore is an award-winning director, producer and editor, mostly in documentary and TV work. His credits include LOST AND FOUND: THE 73 KNICKS CHAMPIONSHIP TAPE, BEGINNINGS, Emmy Award-winning NYC SOUND TRACKS PARAMORE, DEAD TENANTS, TRIP AND GO NAKED (2004 Excellence in Sexual Theater Grocery at the independent Arlene’s Grocery Film Festival), DEATH OF DYNASTY, SREETBALL: THE AND 1 MIX TAPE TOUR, BACKSTAGE, among others. BACKSTAGE, which he directed for Miramax/Dimension, chronicled behind the scenes drama as well as performances on Jay Z’s HARD KNOCK LIFE TOUR and enjoyed a profitable theatrical run. BIZARRE WORLD, which he co-produced with Ted Haimes for Rocket Science Labs, ran as 2 Prime Time specials for the Fox Network. Chris has also worked with the legendary Timothy Leary, Ted Nelson, Rudy Rucker and others on the HYPERTOUR 89 project, his documentary on the then nascent new media revolution focusing on CD-ROM, information networks, and virtual reality.

Eric Lau is an alumnus of NYU’s Graduate Film Program and has worked for 35 years in the film industry. His films, NIGHTWATCHMAN and RAGGED EDGE, won the Best Narrative Film Award in the 1981 and 1984 Hong Kong International Film Festivals respectively, as well as Best Production, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography Awards in the 1984 First Run Film Festival. His work with AARP TV for NBC’s TODAY SHOW Your Life Calling Today with Jane Pauley has just won the Cine Golden Eagle Award 2011. He has been a distinguished guest lecturer at numerous universities and film festivals including Tribeca Film Festival on behalf of APPLE on film and video production, lighting, and cinematography. He was an Adjunct Professor for Video Production courses at Brooklyn College. For the past 27 years, Lau has been President of Solar Film/Video Productions, a full service production company in SoHo, NYC. His credits include such films as AMERICAN PSYCHO and Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. He has also collaborated with filmmakers such as Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Alfonso Cuarón, Ernest Dickerson, John Turturro, Peter Bogdanovich, Mary Harron, James Toback, and Joel Schumacher. Lau’s work can be seen at his company website at

Claus Mueller pursued undergraduate and graduate studies in Germany, France, and the United States and teaches media research at CUNY. He has authored books and articles, focusing most recently integration and film tourism issues, as well as producing DOCUMENTARIES and presented related papers in New Delhi, Busan and other venues. As a recipient of numerous awards, including Fulbrights, he has arranged seminars and Congressional briefings and carried out research overseas with the next project scheduled for Cambodia. Apart from curating at specialized film festivals he has served as a judge for film festivals and for the national and international Emmys. He is the New York Correspondent for the Paris based M21Editions, but also writes for other electronic and print publications. He has been serving on the board of non-profit media organizations such as the International Film Exchange and the New York Film and Video Council and has been elected to the American Council on Germany and the International Council of the National Television Academy. He is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America.

Clarissa de los Reyes graduated from NYU’s prestigious Graduate Film program. Her work at NYU focused on stories about Filipino immigrants in New York City and has played in numerous festivals in the USA, Philippines and Europe. Her films have also brought her several scholarships and awards including the Sara Driver Production Award, the New York Women in Film and Television Production Grant, the Maurice Kanbar Scholarship, the prestigious Tisch Graduate Assistantship for Cinematography and an Honorable Mention at the Director’s Guild of America Student Awards East Coast Division, and Grand Jury Prize at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. She was also selected to be a part of the 6th Edition of the Berlinale Talent Campus in Berlin, Germany. Clarissa worked as a Camera Operator for Oscar nominated American independent filmmaker John Sayles’ latest feature-length film, AMIGO and award winning documentary filmmaker Ramona Diaz’s latest documentary THE BILL. She is also a Co-Producer and Director of Photography for DOCUMENTED, a feature-length documentary on immigration and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas.

Brandon Paul Ruckdashel is an American actor and photographer. He is most well known from his appearance in Cinemax’s Co-Ed Confidential as Zach and Rel Dowdell’s CHANGING THE GAME as Marty Levine. Brandon’s professional career started off-broadway, in 2006, with his NY Times critically acclaimed debut role in Ascension as Lorenzo at the Lion Theater directed by Marc Geller. He is currently Marketing and Program Director of NewFilmmakers New York, a screening series and film festival based at Anthology Film Archives in New York City.

Michael Sandoval is a writer, filmmaker, and educator living in New York City.  As a writing/producing consultant and director, Michael has helped develop several independent film and TV productions in the US and abroad. Michael has been awarded the Lannan Fellowship, the Ucross Foundation Fellowship, and the Ang Lee Fellowship for filmmaking and writing. As an educator, he has created and led collaborations with cultural organizations that include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum. Michael Sandoval is the current Co-chair of the Filmmaking Program at the New York Film Academy’s New York campus. His films have appeared in the Berlin Film Festival, Palm Springs, Slamdance, Toronto Short Film Festival, Margaret Meade Doc Festival, and more. Michael holds an MFA in Filmmaking from New York University – Tisch School of the Arts, an MFA in Writing from the University of Michigan, and a BA from Brown University.

Shen Tong is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, foodie, social activist, writer/poet, and film buff. One of Newsweek’s People of the Year in 1989, Shen Tong was an organizer of the democracy movement in 1989 that occupied Tiananmen Square while he was at Beijing University. After his exile to the US, he finished his undergraduate degree at Brandeis University, and went on to study in PhD programs at Boston University and Harvard University. Mr. Shen became an entrepreneur in the 1990s, founding or co-founding B&B Media and VFinity among other ventures in the past two decades.