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Written by Doris Lin

WHAT IS ASIAN AMERICAN FILM? On the 20th anniversary of Wayne Wang's pioneering "Chan is Missing," it is clear that Asian American film is everything and everywhere, yet as indefinable and indescribable as Wang's elusive title character. The films in the 24th annual Asian American International Film Festival explore personal history during the Chinese Cultural Revolution ("Another Clapping") and battle the evil Lord Ook and the Chinheads to save the lost arts of Hip Hop ("Wave Twisters"). They explode the stereotypes of fag hags and drag queens ("Everything in Between") and interweave the fears and dreams of three Japanese pianists ("The Grass is Greener").

Poster for the Film Festival THE 24TH ANNUAL Asian American International Film Festival, presented by Asian CineVision, opens today in New York City, at Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, and runs through Saturday, July 28. Festival passes as well as tickets to individual events can be purchased in person at the Florence Gould Hall box office or over the phone at 212-355-6160.

TO MARK the 20th anniversary of Wayne Wang's "Chan is Missing," AAIFF pays tribute to Wang with rare screenings of Wang's "Dim Sum" and "Life is Cheap…But Toilet Paper is Expensive," as well as screenings of "Chan is Missing" and Wang's most famous and commercially successful work to date: "The Joy Luck Club." As part of the festival, Wang will be interviewed by The New York Times film critic, Elvis Mitchell, on Thursday, July 26, and will participate in a panel discussion and a short Q&A session on Saturday, July 28.

The Writer
doris lin

She is an attorney, but not currently practicing.

She works part-time for New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance and has worked for many progressive causes, including the environment and immigration.

In law school, she was awarded the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association Outstanding Service Award.

IN ADDITION to the tribute to Wayne Wang, everything from a 2-minute short ("All Amateur Ecstasy") to numerous feature-length productions are showcased in this year's festival. At yesterday's press conference, the filmmakers and their methods proved as diverse as their films. When asked about the budgets of their films, several independent filmmakers quoted figures in the tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, while June Yup Yi ("Self-Portrait") replied, "Less than $1,000…sorry about that." Yi explained his "super-low budget" by the use of digital equipment that he borrowed from his film school.

TWENTY YEARS AFTER "Chan is Missing" depicted the Asian American community as not only defying stereotype but defying description, today's young filmmakers give us very personal views of their communities through their own eyes. Fatimah Tobing Rony, director of "Everything in Between," celebrates the strong Latino influence in the gay Asian community in Los Angeles. An Indonesian American who is constantly bombarded with questions about her own ethnic background, Rony selected a pan-Asian American cast to portray a community defined by culture, not ethnicity. With "X-Roads," a film inspired by the 1937 Chinese classic "Crossroads," Chinese director/writer Shazon Jiang captures Shanghai as she sees it - dynamic, fresh and ever changing. In an atmosphere of relaxed government controls and increasing cultural influences from the West, Shanghai is a city where East and West are crossing and colliding in Jiang's fairy tale of missed connections, unrequited love and "good-hearted hustlers."

IN THE WAKE OF THE SUCCESS of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Festival Director Risa Morimoto hoped that in the future, mainstream audiences will be more receptive to Asian American films as well as subtitled Asian films.

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