Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce
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Written by Shanna Fujii | Photography by Ihman Esturco

Films and food – name a more iconic duo. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

On Saturday, November 3, 2018, the So Good Asian Film and Food Festival placed a spotlight on local filmmakers and tastemakers. The inaugural event was held at Vintage 45 in downtown Phoenix and was hosted by the Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to the event, the festival had an open call for short film submissions whose principal producer, production team, or leading cast was of Asian descent. Among the submissions, six finalists would get to screen their films at the festival and only one would receive the grand prize of $1000.

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The winner would be determined by four esteemed judges: Bill True, department chair and head of screenwriting at Scottsdale School of Film and Theatre; Toni Ross, founder of the Jerome Indie Film Festival; Jason Scott, assistant professor of the ASU School of Film, Dance, and Theatre and the assistant director of the ASU Film and Media Production Program; Viet Le, chairwoman of the Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce.

The day of the event, 200 people attended the general admission screenings and were able to enjoy a PHX Night Market food hall showcasing local restaurants including Mahalo Made, Fishmonger Kitchen, Twisted Munchies, Genbu Waffles, Gagobros, Voyager Bakeshop, Yan Grill and Hot Pot, and Urbanh Cafe.

The films screened during the festival were: Mahal, Windows, The Visibly Invisible Few, Come & Take It, Bloom, and Rainbow Effect. These general admission screenings were followed by a discussion panel led by Jennifer Auh of FOX 10 News and allowed the judges and filmmakers to discuss their expertise and the work that went into each film production.

The discussion panel concluded with an award ceremony where Bloom, a psychological thriller produced by local director Aniwat Pluemjit, screenwriter Shanna Fujii, and director of photography Corey Hour, was announced as the 2018 So Good “Best Picture” winner.

In the evening, the festival transformed into a swanky, exclusive VIP dinner for 300 guests and was lavishly styled after the box-office hit, Crazy Rich Asians. Anaerialist, musical performances, and traditional Cambodian dancers were entertainment for the night.

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Guests were served an eight-course meal prepared by Chef Bob Tam of Bitter and Twisted and Chef Kevin Rosales of Good Fortune Kitchen. Dinner included meals from Filipino, Cambodian, and fusion dishes. Everything from winter melon soup, amok trey, lechon kawali, and mango sticky rice were served throughout the course of the evening’s events.

As the tagline suggests, the festival’s proceeds were for a good cause. A portion of the So Good Asian Film and Food Festival’s proceeds were donated to Phoenix Legal Action Network (PLAN) in order to help raise funds for immigrant families in need of legal representation. It was safe to say the entire event from start to finish was packed with good films and good food for a good cause.

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