Day #4 at VAFF – White Frog Kisses the Spirit of Japan

VAFF 2012 ended with a host of great films.   Here is the lovely and vivacious VAFF executive Winnie Tam, who is this year’s Director of Marketing as well as Festival Programmer, introducing the program and giving welcoming remarks to the audience to the much anticipated Spirit of Nihonmachi and Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.

Both films give a wonderful glimpse into Japanese culture on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.  Spirit of Nihnomachi is an excellent documentary the people behind the  annual Powell Street Festival that celebrates Japanese-Canadian culture and their history in Vancouver, while the Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom is a touching documentary of the survivors of the the March 2011 tsunami that destroyed much of their cities and lives.   Beautifully told, the film relates nature to destruction and rebirth, and examines the Japanese people’s deep-rooted relationship with the cherry blossom in helping them cope with the aftermath of one of the country’s most devastating natural disasters. Both films are testaments to the resilient nature of the Japanese people.

The festival ended with a bang, as audiences were captivated by a remarkable film White Frog.   Having an all-star cast of Harry Shum Jr., Joan Chen, Kelly Hu, and B.D. Wong, and starring the emerging Bamboo Stewart, White Frog is a coming-of-age story about 15 year old Nick Young (Booboo Stewart) who is a neglected teen with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Surprisingly produced with only under a $1 million budget, the film touched audiences deeply about Nick’s  life as he is challenged and ultimately changed forever when tragedy hits his family. Taken under the wing of his brother’s best friends, the young man goes through a personal journey that forces him out of his comfort zone and reconcile who he is and who he wants to become.   The audience was then treated to a live a Q&A session with the director of the film Quentin Lee and Writer/Producer Ellie Wen.   Afterwards, the audience was treated to a night of partying over at the Wild Rice!

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