Sadly, the Asian Pacific Film Festival came to a close last evening.
But, the annual event did not go quietly into the night!
Indeed, the send-off proceedings were nothing short of dizzying.
Shortly after high-profile stars in the Asian Film community strutted the red carpet amid a flurry of blinding flash bulbs, Japan's Consul General put in a surprise appearance at the podium just prior to the premiere of "Departures" (Best Foreign Film Oscar-winner).
Mr. Ihara congratulated festival organizers for promoting the Asian culture by virtue of the medium of film.
Prior to his current appointment, Ihara served as Deputy Director-General of the Asian & Ocean Affairs Bureau and as a Minister at the Embassy of Japan in the United States.
After the upbeat speech, the distinguished diplomat took his seat to catch the much-anticipated screening, which had been causing a buzz on the festival circuit in recent days.
Just before the curtain fell and the credits rolled, Festival Officials announced the names of a handful of filmmakers who nabbed prestigious awards for their work.
"Children of Invention" (directed by Tze Chun) won the Grand Jury Prize hands down.
Justin Kwong was also singled out for the "Best Newcomer Award" for his performance in the comedy "White on Rice".
Earlier in the evening, director Dave Boyle (White on Rice) paid me quite a compliment when he noted that he'd been watching a video clip I shot at the "Rice" after-party which is currently being broadcast on YouTube.
"Quite good," he noted with sincerity.
Flattering, especially when you consider that Mr. Boyle's film also garnered a prize for filmmaking, in addition to the coveted acting prize snapped up by Kwong.
Hiroshi Wanatabe - the male lead in the film - was thrilled with my review.
"I am sending a copy to my family and friends in Japan, " he beamed, as he gave me a polite little bow.
"Departures" (billed as a celebration of life) turned out to be a hit with the audience, by the way.
The cinematography and musical score were particularly outstanding.
A review follows.
Shortly after the lights went up, the well-heeled guests made a bee-line for cocktails (flowing freely from an open bar courtesy of Festival sponsors) then waited patiently in line - in some cases, up to twenty minutes - to gobble up succulent fresh fruit of the season, scrumptious mini-burgers, chicken kabobs, nutritious vegetables, a selection of tasty imported cheeses, and delectable sweets popular in the Orient.
An ongoing dialogue between filmmakers and fans continued on into the witching hour.
In sum, the Silver Anniversary Edition (25th year) of the Asian Pacific Film Festival was a resounding success.
'Til next year!
Dave Boyle, Justin Kwong & Hiroshi Watanabe