The 44th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF44) kicked off on Aug. 11 with the New York City premiere of its Opening Night film SNAKEHEAD by Evan Jackson Leong (LINSANITY).
The evening featuring an exclusive in-person screening at Regal Essex Crossing & RPX (115 Delancey St), a Q & A with cast and crew, and a reception at Sour Mouse. Combining in-person events and online programs, AAIFF44 is a hybrid festival this year from August 11-22. Click here for the full lineup and tickets.
SNAKEHEAD stars Shuya Chang as Sister Tse, Sung Kang (Fast & Furious, Better Luck Tomorrow), Jade Wu (Netflix’s “Luke Cage,” “For Life,” “Magnum P.I.”) as Dai Ma, Celia Au (“Wu Assassins”) as Jai, Jamie Choi (Rainbow Six: Siege, “Gotham”) as Barbie, Perry Yung (HBO Max’s “Warrior,” John Wick: Chapter 2) as Suhyun, Yacine Djoumbaye as Zareeb. The cast also features Eric Elizaga as Derek, Devon Diep as Sinh, and Catherine Jiang as Rosie.
Special guests included Commissioner of New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Commissioner Anne del Castillo and Film, Television and Broadway veteran Lori Tan Chinn (“Orange is the New Black,” “Awkwafina is Nora from Queens”).
The Q & A featured writer/director Evan Jackson Leong, cinematographer Ray Huang, and cast members Shuya Chang, Jade Wu, Perry Yung, Catherine Jiang, Devon Diep and Jamie Choi. The film is now available online from Aug. 12-14 on CineSend, the official online screening platform of AAIFF44. Click here for tickets.
Based on the true story of Sister Ping (Cheng Chui Ping) and the Chinatown-based snakehead syndicate, who escorted Chinese immigrants into the United States for nearly two decades, and featuring a New York-based cast, SNAKEHEAD centers on Sister Tse (Shuya Chang) and her attempt to survive in New York’s Chinatown as an immigrant while she gets caught up in an international crime ring of human smuggling.
Sister Tse is brought to New York by a Snakehead, a human smuggler. Although she is indebted to the crime family responsible for her transport, her survival instincts help her gain favor with the matriarch, and she rises quickly in the ranks. Soon Tse must reconcile her success with her real reason for coming to America-to find the child that was taken from her. In the end, Sister Tse must draw on the strength she has found in transforming her victimhood into power.
SNAKEHEAD will also screen at the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) on Sunday, August 22 at 5pm at SVA Theatre, 333 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011. Click here for tickets.
SNAKEHEAD will then unspool at the Toronto International Film Festival on August 24.
SNAKEHEAD was produced by Arowana Films and 408 Films in association with Valiant Pictures and King Street Pictures. The film is repped by XYZ Films in North American and Odin’s Eye Entertainment internationally. Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Pictures have acquired North American rights.
Evan Jackson Leong is a sixth-generation Chinese American native of San Francisco. Leong has worked with his mentor, director Justin Lin, on BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, which screened at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, and THE FAST & THE FURIOUS. He was also a co-producer of Lin’s FINISHING THE GAME: THE SEARCH FOR THE NEW BRUCE LEE, which premiered at Sundance in 2007. He would return to Sundance in 2013 with his own film, the documentary LINSANITY. SNAKEHEAD is his first narrative feature.
Crew: Writer / Director: Evan Jackson Leong; Executive Producers: Darryl Wong, Sung Kang, Russell Leong, Sherlyn Leong, Marisa Leong, Jon Chan, David Hou, Helen Shen, Byron Habinsky, Alvin Lau, Greg Yap, Eric Rhee, Matt Cohen, Bruce Ma; Associate Producers: Vincent Lin, Matthew D’Amato; Producers: Brian Yang, Dan Mark, Anson Ho, Evan Jackson Leong; DP: Ray Huang;,Production Designer: Emma Koh , Wardrobe Designer: Jessica Yuen, Editor: Chelsea Taylor, Composer: Roman Molino Dunn, Colorist: Nicholas Metcalf (The Mill).
Regal Essex Crossing & RPX in New York
AAIFF44 staff members Anna Sang and Kelsey Chin at the Festival check in table.
Writer/Director Evan Jackson Leong
Writer/Director Evan Jackson Leong
Director of Asian Cinevision, John Woo, SNAKEHEAD Writer/Director Evan Jackson Leong, Commissioner of New York City?s Mayor?s Office of Media and Entertainment, Commissioner Anne del Castillo
Catherine Jiang, Jade Wu, Shuya Chang, Evan Jackson Leong, Jamie Choi, Devon Diep and Perry Yung
John Woo, Anne Del Castillo, Jade Wu, Shuya Chang, Evan Jackson Leong, Devon Diep, Catherine Jiang, Perry Yung
Jade Wu, Shuya Chang, Evan Jackson Leong, Devon Diep, Catherine Jiang and Perry Yung
John Woo, Ray Huang, Commissioner Anne Del Castillo, Jade Wu, Shuya Chang, Evan Jackson Leong, Devon Diep, Catherine Jiang, Perry Yung
Director of Photography Ray Huang, Writer/Director Evan Jackson Leong
Shuya Chang, Evan Jackson Leong, Jade Wu
Jade Wu, Lori Tan Chinn and Perry Yung
Eric Elizaga and Liesl Hara
Jade Wu and Evan Jackson Leong
Evan Jackson Leong and Perry Yung
Evan Jackson Leong and Jamie Choi
Jade Wu and Perry Yung
Shuya Chang and Evan Jackson Leong
Director of Photography Ray Huang is flanked by his parents, Lillian Ling and Arlan Huang
Jade Wu, Lori Tan Chinn, Lia Chang, Perry Yung
Judy Lei, Shirley L. Ng and Lilian Ling
Kachina, Devon Diep, Jamie Choi, Ellen Mah
Lia Chang, Ray Huang, Arlan Huang
Director of Photography Ray Huang, Jade Wu, Perry Yung, Writer/Director Evan Jackson Leong, Devon Diep, Director of Asian CineVision John Woo, Catherine Jiang