Asia Rocks

The coveted and elusive population of hip young moviegoers always mobs the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Maybe it’s the restless energy flowing from an up-and-coming generation of raring-to-go Korean and Japanese directors. Perhaps it’s the fluid new freedom that Asian-American filmmakers have to ignore (rather than contest) stereotypes and expectations, and to veer unencumbered into uncharted territory. Whatever the forces or sources, the SFAIFF has got it. Today’s lineup features a double dose of music-driven dramas, led by Naoki Kato’s culture-clashing Abraxas (which screens tonight at 6:45 at Sundance Kabuki). Don’t expect Carlos Santana to turn up in this tale of a Japanese monk torn between his ritualistic, circumscribed present and his previous incarnation as the front man of a wild rock band. The collision between tradition and modernity, the interior life and the external world — we know you feel his angst. Stephane Gaugher’s hip-hop narrative Saigon Electric uses a new-fashioned urban-dance competition to explore the dilemma of reconciling valued old ways with fresh forms of expression. Raised in Orange County, Gaugher returned to his native Vietnam to shoot the film.
March 10-20, 2011

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