Pali Road: Winner of Awards

Pali Road won big at the festival’s award ceremony: Sung Kang received the International Star Award, lead actress Michelle Chen won the Special Jury Award, and Quyen Tran won Best Cinematography for her stunning imagery of capturing the beautiful landscape in Hawaii.

Sung Kang is known for his character Han in the Fast and Furious franchise as well as his love for the world’s coolest race cars. But it is his role in Pali Road that shows this Korean American actor’s range of performances.

“It’s great to play a more sensitive character. It’s exciting as an actor to have this type of challenge to play a character with more emotional depth,” Sung Kang said on the red carpet, explaining that his character Mitch Kayne is definitely an unique experience in his 16 years of acting career, “it was amazing to see the film able to blend a Chinese star and a Chinese sensibility when it comes to filmmaking, and to blend the two cultures together. It really pioneers in this whole new culture of China meets the west.”

Set in Hawaii, Pali Road tells the story of a young doctor Lily (Michelle Chen) who wakes up from a car accident and discovers her boyfriend Neil Lang (Jackson Rathbone). She is married to another man Mitch Kayne (Sung Kang) and living a life she can’t remember. Based on an original screenplay written by Doc Pedrolie and Victoria Arch, the film blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. Lily’s search for the truth to her past life will lead her to question everyone around her and her entire existence.

“Twilight Saga” star Jackson Rathone plays a happy-go-lucky elementary school teacher Neil in the film.  “I actually spent a lot of time teaching kids back when I was in high school. Part of my Theater program was to have us teach third-graders drama,” Rathbone revealed some resemblances with his character, “and I get along with kids, because I’m as mature as they are!”

Director Jonathan Lim wanted to bridge cross-cultural characters and mythologies in a transcending way. In the story, Lily’s Chinese parents and Neil’s different perception on marriage constantly challenge their love. To organically interweave Eastern and Western cultures between lovers, the film finds its way to tell a modern story combining China’s classic fairy tale of QiXi (The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd) and the Hawaiian legend of the Naupaka Flower. Both tales share a similar premise about a love story between a princess and a commoner whose love is forbidden.

“The important thing is that if we embrace diversity, we can have a lot of original storytelling. I think this is very important in today’s age now”, said Lim, “Casting was really challenging because we were trying to find a cast that would work across borders and give the film an international appeal — and also not pigeonhole ourselves.”

With a multinational cast and co-produced with China’s Dadi Digital Cinema & China Film Assist, Pali Road is set to release on April 28 and 29 in select U.S. cities by AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas.