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The 2009 edition of the Asian American International Film Festival is here, brought to us by the efforts of the venerable media arts nonprofit Asian CineVision. This year, AAIFF is holding screenings in three locations: Clearview Cinemas and the SVA Theater, both in Chelsea, and MOCA (Museum of the Chinese in America), in its gorgeous new Maya Lin–designed building on Centre Street. Two of the fiction features on offer are H2N favorites—Tze Chun’s festival darling Children of Invention, and Dave Boyle’s wonderful comedy White on Rice (click here to read my interview with Boyle). Both screen Saturday the 25th.

I also want to draw H2N readers’ attention to another low-budget indie gem that’s well worth getting out of the house for. H.P. Mendoza, co-writer, composer, and star of 2006’s cult hit Colma: The Musical, closes out the festival on Sunday night with his new musical Fruit Fly. Bethesda (L.A. Renigen) is a Filipina American performance artist who arrives in San Francisco to pursue her art and to find out about the mother she never knew. She moves into an artists’ commune, parties with her gay friends (”fruit fly” being the marginally more polite term for “fag hag”), and prepares for her first SF show. That’s the plot, anyway, but the plot here is a pretty ragged, undercooked thing. The movie has a few bumpy moments, but for most of its running time, it’s a blast—inventive, energetic, touching, and hilariously filthy. Mendoza’s tunes are infectious synth-pop concoctions, and his lyrics gleam with wit. The number “We Have So Much In Common” is the high point of the film; it starts as a tender flirtation-and-courtship duet before morphing into an ode to “versatile bottoms” that would gross out the boys from South Park. (The soundtrack is available on iTunes and elsewhere; go here for details.) Fruit Fly is an excellent choice for a closing-night film—there are going to be a lot of smiling faces streaming out of Clearview Cinemas on Sunday.

There are several other narrative features screening this year, along with a handful of documentaries, and nine shorts programs, plus panels, workshops, and more. Go here for the complete schedule and ticket information.

— Nelson Kim

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Nelson Kim wrote and directed the award-winning independent feature SOMEONE ELSE (2016), which was hailed by the LA Weekly as “a tense, unexpectedly moving psychological study of a man’s unraveling,” by VCinema as “a nimble and smartly designed independent production… a highly intriguing debut,” and by PopMatters as “a movie that ultimately forces you to think on your feet… certain to provoke discussion, and perhaps argument, amongst viewers.” Go to to learn more. Nelson teaches film at Wagner College in Staten Island, where he co-directs the Film and Media Studies Program. He lives in Brooklyn.

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