Snapshots - Page 2

Quick takes on the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

Accompanied by great period footage and rare film clips, the doc features interviews with a number of local figures who were raised in a Chinatown that at one time had as many as five movie theaters. What began as a source of pride in the 1930s soon proved to have far-reaching effects in shaping the identities of those who grew up in the neighborhood. It's appropriate that A Moment in Time (directed by Ruby Yang, who won an Oscar for her 2006 short doc, The Blood of Yingzhou District) is showing at a festival, perhaps the last of the true film-going experiences. (Galvin) Sat/13, 7 p.m., Sundance Kabuki; Tues/16, 5 p.m., Sundance Kabuki.

The Oak Park Story (Valerie Soe, USA, 2010) The Oak Park Story is a nice piece of local interest, a document of the struggle by an Oakland apartment community to improve their living conditions. As a piece of film, Valerie Soe's short film is a little rough around the edges, but it feels like such a deeply personal undertaking that it's easy to get caught up in the lives of its deeply-bonded residents. At a scant 22 minutes, The Oak Park Story is the perfect length, and the gamut of emotions the filmmakers are able elicit in such a short amount of time is impressive. But should you find yourself interested in hearing more, just ask, since director Soe is expected to appear in person. The film screens with the feature-length Manilatown is in the Heart: Time Travels With Al Robles. (Galvin) Sun/14, 2 p.m., Sundance Kabuki; Mon/15, 7 p.m., Sundance Kabuki.
Lessons of the Blood (James T. Hong and Yin-Ju Chen, USA, 2010) The latest experimental work from sometimes San Francisco resident James T. Hong is his first feature-length documentary. It's also his most accessible film to date, which is not to say that Hong's unconventional style, bold opinions, and fascination with controversial subject matter have been dulled in the slightest. Codirected by Hong's frequent collaborator (and wife) Yin-Ju Chen, Lessons of the Blood uses archival clips, old educational films, current interviews, and not a small amount of hidden-camera footage to explore the topic of revisionist history, specifically as it relates to Japanese cruelty in China circa World War II. Stark, artful visuals — plus a grim travelogue's worth of shots taken at significant sites, including Japan's Yasukuni Shrine, the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin (once occupied by the Japanese), and the Nanjing Massacre Memorial — contrast with a curious, furious tone. Lessons' lessons are harrowing, and unforgettable. (Eddy) Sun/14, 3 p.m., PFA; Tues/16, 7 p.m., Sundance Kabuki. *

The 28th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival runs March 11–21 at the Castro, 429 Castro, SF; Sundance Kabuki, 1881 Post, SF; Viz Cinema, 1746 Post, SF; Clay, 2261 Fillmore, SF; Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft, Berk.; and Camera 12 Cinemas, 201 South Second St., San Jose. Tickets (most shows $12) available at