Colorado Dragon Film Festival showcases Asian cinema


Posted Thu, Mar 8, 2018

Director of Colorado Dragon Film Festival Lorraine Eloriaga at Alamo Drafthouse Sloan’s Lake location on Saturday, March 3. Eloriaga is also involved with the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

DENVER — The third annual Colorado Dragon Film Festival celebrated Asian culture through nine full-length features and 23 short films at the Alamo Drafthouse Denver on March 2-4. This year’s spotlight country was Korea, with two movies from director Jung Yoon-Suk’s “Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno,” and director Choi Kook-hee’s “Split.”

Lorraine Eloriaga, director of the Colorado Dragon Film Festival, described the event as the little sister of the Dragon Boat Festival, an annual event to build awareness, knowledge and understanding of diverse Asian Pacific-American communities through athletic competition and cultural education. The highlight of the fest is the competitive Dragon Boat race with includes teams and paddlers from all over the world. The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival will be on July 28-29 at Sloans Lake Park in Denver.

“We originally started the Dragon Boat Festival 18 years ago, and we decided that we wanted to give back to the community in a different way, other than hands-on sporting activities,” said Executive Director of Dragon 5280 Sara Moore. “We wanted it to be a bit more art and cinema. We had a committee come together, and they brainstormed this child of a film festival.”

From left to right: Joey Aya, Jordan Padilla and Matthew Teves enjoying a day at Colorado Dragon Film Festival to watch the film “Birdshot” and support Asian culture at Alamo Drafthouse Denver on Saturday, March 3. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Dragon 5280 is a nonprofit that sponsors both the Colorado Dragon Film Festival and Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. Moore spoke about film curator Jason Suzuki who selected films from numerous Asian countries and showcased various genres from animated shorts to horror. Moore said the purpose is to continue the Dragon Boat Festival’s mission to promote cultural awareness of different Asian communities to the general public through cinema.

Eloriaga described the repertoire of films as, “Not only entertaining, but touches on social issues that are really huge in our lives right now.”

Director Choi Kook-hee’s film “Split” explores autism as a subject. The movie is about Chul-Jong, played by Yoo Ji-tae, who was forced to abandon his professional bowling career as a result of a car accident. He sees Young-hoon (Lee David) in the bowling alley making strike after strike so Chul-Jong decides that he’d like to work with him. He then finds out Young-hoon has autism, which Chul-Jong has to learn how to adapt.

“It’s kind of neat that we’re starting with this film, and April is Autism Awareness Month,” Eloriaga said.

Inside the movie screening for Mikhail Red’s “Birdshot” from Philippines of Colorado Dragon Film Festival at Alamo Drafthouse Denver on Saturday, March 3. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Japanese director Naoko Ogigami’s “Close-Knit” features in a transgender character, and is considered to be the milestone of Ogigami’s career since she exposes a topic rarely showcased in Japanese cinema.

Film critic and historian Mark Shilling of The Japan Times held a Q&A session after “Close-Knit,” discussing prior depictions of transgender characters in Japanese film. Ogigami’s career and where this film falls in terms of theme and tone of her prior work were also discussed.
Eloriaga said the Colorado Dragon Film Festival will have an educational impact on its guests.

“If you don’t share your culture with others, that’s what leads to ignorance,” Eloriaga said. “That’s not a good thing. We want to educate people. This is who we are.”

Other films include Vivian Qu’s “Angels Wear White” from China, Keisuke Yoshida’s “Hime-Anole” from Japan, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy’s “A Billion Colour Story” from India and Nattawut Poonpiriya’s “Bad Genius” from Thailand. In addition, there was a mystery screening of a festival favorite and live action shorts.

Executive Director of Dragon 5280 Sara Moore celebrates and promotes Asian culture in Colorado at Alamo Drafthouse Denver on Saturday, March 3. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Matthew Teves, a first-time guest at the film festival, was there to see Mikhail Red’s “Birdshot,” an Oscar-nominated movie for Best Foreign Language Film. As a Filipino man, Teves wanted to show support by viewing a motion picture made in his home country. It was also Teves’ first time at the Alamo Drafthouse.

“Friendly people, friendly staff,” Teves said. “It creates a great environment to be at. I’m very much involved in the Colorado Dragon Film Festival. I’m here as a spectator, but I do participate with the community as much as I can.”

Eloriaga said this is the first year that the Colorado Dragon Film Festival is at an actual theater and feels blessed that Alamo Drafthouse wanted to work with their organization. Suzuki said it was previously held at the King Center at Auraria Campus, and the opening night to last year’s fest was at the Denver Art Museum.

“I’m completely enjoying working with the team at Alamo Drafthouse,” Eloriaga said. “They’re a huge part of our festival this year, and they’ve just been a joy to work with. Showing it in an actual theater is the way it’s supposed to be seen.”

For more information visit: Colorado Dragon Film Festival


About Kavann Tok

Kavann Tok is a freelance Denver-area journalist. Website:

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