The Gala reception for the Pacific Asian Film Fest was a big splash on Thursday night, attracting a host of well-heeled celebrities, along with an eclectic mix of media artists and curiosity-seekers.
The liquor flowed at the open bar, as the effervescent film enthusiasts chatted each other up to a fever pitch over scrumptious rounds of tasty beef and chicken, succulent mouth-watering fruit of the season, and delectable finger pastries.
As I scanned the room, I was enthralled with the fashion presence.
A number of slender Asian women were smartly dolled-up in chic, sheer, body-hugging party dresses - in distinctive eye-pleasing colors - like coral, turquoise, blood red, cerulean, and canary yellow. A handful of the trendy ladies turned out in full-length designer gowns that skirted the plush carpet below and hugged their elegant chins above with exquisitely-designed high-collar flourishes.
One pretty young gal with porcelain skin wore an outfit based on a traditional Chinese design - "but modernized" - she noted, with a sweet engaging smile. A silk shawl draped about her shoulders embossed with a Chinese character on one side, with intricate embroidery and delicate detailing, accented just right.
The men took the occasion to dress up, too.
Many of the fashion savvy males were turned out sharply in understated designer suits - usually in solid colors - such as black, slate grey, and navy blue. Into the mix, a posse of adventurous dressers ably matched up sport jackets with silk vests and designer jeans. A few wore caps, slouchy hats, and - as was the case with a couple of the artists in the crowd - sported braided pony-tails.
Basically, the high-energy room was packed with a young, lively, with-it crowd; although the attendees ranged throughout the upper generations, which was refreshing on this festive occasion.
In fact, one of the Directors of the Festival, David Magdael - a pleasant, easy-going man with a great personality - noted there has been a surge of younger participants at the annual event in the past couple of years as viewers and as participants in the creative arena.
"A lot of the youth today are not interested in pursuing careers as Doctors or Dentists, as was the norm previously; but rather, are inclined to go into the visual artists and filmmaking as serious career endeavors, now."
The films also took a new turn this year from the formal class-focused bill-of-fare to celluloid pieces that are - "gritty and real" - which he saw as a plus.
"The Machine Girl" is an example of one, which screens tonight at the Director's Guild at 9:30 p.m. (see poster below)
In considering projects for the festival, he was quick to add that the Asian Film Festival is always seeking "new voices". And, work need not always be perfect from a production-value point-of-view, but must show originality and potential.
Obviously, it's an artful question.
He also was thrilled to inform me that 2008 was a big year for female directors.
"Ten directors will be showing their work during the course of the Festival, ongoing May 1st through May 8th at a handful of venues about the city."
There also was a big interest in Filipino entries this year. In fact, one director was also accepted into the Cannes Film Festival which signaled to many that the Asian Pacific Festival is a great springboard for emerging talent across the board.
In conjunction with the Gala opening reception, PING PONG PLAYA screened to a very enthusiastic full-house.
In fact, the red carpet was packed with many of the stars featured in the film - who turned out for the festive event - including high profile "Queer as Folk" stars - Peter Paige and Scott Lowell.
Mr. Paige and Mr. Lowell - to the delight of filmgoers - were quite accessible and strolled through the room ready to engage in chit-chat with fans and film connoisseurs present.
PING PONG PLAYA was a delightful comedy which was well-received by a wild, enthusiastic audience. A review follows in a day or so.
Upcoming highlights include "Kissing Cousins" on May 4th and the "Home Song Stories" to screen on May 8th.
But, there is a lot to choose from - 160 entries in all.
In addition, there will be a number of seminars and panel discussions. And, as usual, many of the films screened will include thought-provoking Q & A sessions after; so, if you're pining to have a chat with a star, or a real live film director, check the schedule to pinpoint an event to actively pursue those intentions.
By the way, if any seniors are interested in learning about Visual Communications, take notice there will be a couple of seminars held later in the week that may be up your alley. For those of us born in a "different" era - who weren't weaned on computers (I remember an archaic device known as the typewriter, for instance) it may provide an opportunity to catch up with all the rich media and technology proliferating in the marketplace today
So, a special thanks to the Film Festival for recognizing this, and offering up the chance to get on board and become part of a vital creative community.