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Asian-American film is having somewhat of a moment on the national stage: Parasite just racked up four wins at the Oscars (including a history-making Best Picture award), 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians became one of the highest-grossing rom-coms ever, and The Farewell received high acclaim for its depiction of cross-culturalism.
Even if you missed the aforementioned cultural phenomenons (You’re forgiven, but seriously. See them.), you’ll still get a chance to watch some of the most intriguing, edge-of-your-seat features in Asian film at the Colorado Dragon Film Festival. During the four-day fest, film junkies can watch more than a dozen Asia-centric films, nosh on food and drink, chat with the filmmakers, and partake in riveting talk-backs and panel discussions.
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Most of the movies and sideshows this year riff on the fest’s theme of wellness and community. “We’re talking about physical wellness and health, but also mental health. It’s a pretty big issue that, luckily, we’re tackling,” says Sara Moore, executive director of Dragon 5280, the nonprofit that oversees the Dragon Film Festival.
The opening night feature, The Wandering Chef, is a documentary about a Korean celebrity chef who travels the country looking for natural, medicinal ingredients while also ruminating on his past. Before the film starts, guests will be treated to plant-based appetizers inspired by the film made by Dae Gee Korean BBQ. There will also be workshops helmed by Durango-based Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, and Trent and Kristen Blizzard of Glenwood Springs-based Modern Forager, which will focus on how to hunt for your own holistic ingredients right here in Colorado.
Before you go, make sure to check out the schedule. As with most film festivals, there are seemingly endless movies to choose from. Must-sees include Lucky Grandma, a 2019 film about a chain-smoking 80-year-old grandma that—after a run-in at the casino—finds herself in the middle of a gang war in New York City’s Chinatown; and Palliative, a Denver-made documentary about end-of-life care through the eyes of pediatric palliative care specialist Dr. Nadia Tremonti. (Movie-goers will have a chance to talk with some of the filmmakers, such as Palliative producer Dr. Donald Stader, after the shows.) As part of a local showcase, six narrative and documentary shorts will be presented, including University of Colorado assistant professor Cecilia Wu’s For Tashi, which ruminates on the pain of losing a pregnancy.
The Asian film scene is diverse, and getting more diverse each year. Luckily, it’s also finding a larger audience. Moore is enthusiastic about Americans’ newfound interest in Asian film—and the Parasite win. “We’re so excited. It’s a huge step for our community and our nation. We’re making great strides,” she says.
If you go: The Colorado Dragon Film Festival runs from February 20–23 at the Sie Film Center, 2510 E. Colfax Ave. Tickets can be found online at cdfilm.org/tickets.