With a collection of over 250 films by Asian and Pacific Islanders, AsiaPacificFilms.com is the idealized, online equivalent of a independent film festival. No cramped schedules, no limited runs, every title available 24-7. TechCrunch described it as “a Netflix for Asian Pacific indie filmmakers.”
Asians and Pacific Islanders are said to be responsible for creating half of all the world’s films, but because of limited distribution and a maze of licensing issues, only a small fraction of them are ever seen outside of their own countries. AsiaPacificFilms.com was created to give these films a global audience. And in addition to the films themselves, the site offers reviews, interviews, and supplementary background information to provide even more context.
As noted on the site’s “About Us” page:
Our curators — experts in Asian and Pacific cinema studies – hand-pick our films for their cultural nuances and historical significance, and for their themes, filmic techniques and styles… We are creating an online library and archive because we believe the virtual environment is the best way to keep our cinematic heritage in perpetual circulation.
In addition to films from places like China, Korea, India, Iran, and throughout Southeast Asia (organized by country, as well as filmmaker, genre and theme), a number of independent films from Hawaii are included as well. From director Stephanie Castillo, you can find “Simple Courage,” a 1993 Emmy Award-winning documentary on Father Damien and Kalaupapa. From Tom Coffman, “Nation Within,” telling the story of Hawaii’s annexation from the Hawaiian perspective. Films by Joan Lander, Wendy Arbeit, and Patricia Elser Gillespie are also available.
The service was launched in October of last year, and was promoted to Hawaii International Film Festival members in March. Now, in cooperation with TechCrunch, AsiaPacificFilms.com is offering a one-month free trial to explore their offerings. Look for the coupon code in today’s great TechCrunch writeup, and enter it on the signup form.
You’ll be prompted for your credit card information, but I was able to click through without entering anything. Presumably, after the free-trial expires, you’ll have to subscribe for $8.99 a month (though special rates are available for educators, libraries, and organizations).
If you’re like me, you may have always wanted to attend HIFF, but just never found a way to fit it into your schedule. AsiaPacificFilms.com includes many films that saw their Western debut at HIFF, so it’s a great new way to get your cultural and artistic fix, anytime.
Want to learn more about how AsiaPacificFilms.com came to be? My friend and HPR co-host Burt Lum says we’ll soon have its founder and president, Jeannette Hereniko, on Bytemarks Cafe to share more of the story.