Founded by international film and cultural curator Sophia Wong Boccio, SOPHIA’S CHOICE ( 蘇菲亞的精選) is a Chicago-based 501 C (3) not-for-profit cultural organization incorporated in May 2015. Our vision is fostering appreciation for diverse Asian cultures.
We are realizing our vision through a multi-pronged mission by:
• cultivating an interest in and understanding of Asian cultures via a diverse offering of Asian films;
• connecting the Asian film industry with local Chicago film professionals, educators and students; and
• promoting Chicago as a destination for international visitors.
Asian Pop-Up Cinema (亞洲躍動電影展) is our semi-annual film festival - every spring and fall - that shows a series of specially curated films in their original languages with English subtitles. Films are presented at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago. Thanks to our diverse cultural partners and sponsors, we continue to add pop-up events in the city.
Since our inaugural season in the fall of 2015, APUC has presented 5 North American premieres, 28 Chicago premieres and a total of 42 contemporary Asian titles including films from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. To date, APUC has also hosted 15 Asian filmmakers, actors and other industry specialists from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and S. Korea. Each APUC film and its filmmaker receive their own spotlight, since we do not host multiple events on the same day. This results in a more meaningful dialogue and connection with the audience and local Chicago media. Based on the filmmaker’s availability, we collaborate with local professional and academic institutions to create outreach opportunities such as classroom lectures, industry panel discussions and industry networking.
Our popular Q&A moderator, Ron Falzone, associate professor in Cinema and Television Arts of Columbia College Chicago and The Second City Harold Ramis Film School is our in-house moderator/lecturer to lead most post-screening discussions.
May 16, 2018 Sophia Wong Boccio's speech at the Closing Night of Season SIX (Click here for recap of Closing Night)
Three years ago, I founded the non-profit SOPHIA’S CHOICE as the presenter for Asian Pop-Up Cinema. To bridge the East and the West, we are realizing my vision to foster appreciation for diverse Asian cultures through film. Thanks to the generous support of government agencies, foundations, corporations, and friends and family, we are now at the closing night of Season SIX. I also want to express my appreciation to our Board of Directors for their guidance and to our volunteers, crew members, Jeff Semlow the projectionist and the entire AMC River East 21 team led by Ray and Kasia for their hard work presenting films each season.
Tonight, we have the pleasure of premiering a Hong Kong film about unconditional mother’s love that also raises awareness of autism. This is most appropriate since we have just celebrated Mother’s Day. For me and my brother, Aldous Wong (who is here with his wife from Canada), it is our first Mother’s Day that our mother is no longer with us.
Our mother, Yu Wan Fei, was an actress active in the Hong Kong Cinema between the 1950’s and 1970’s with 65 film credits to her name. She is now happily reunited with our father, who was an award-winning Hong Kong film editor. As a character-comedic actress, my Mom played many different minor and major roles and was screen mother to many A-list stars in her time. My intern from Columbia College Chicago has created a short tribute to salute Yu Wan Fei’s film legacy, so please sit back and enjoy!
May 20, 2016 Sophia Wong Boccio's speech as Asian Pop-Up Cinema turned 1-year old (Excerpt Only)
When I think about Hong Kong, I always think about my own roots in the Hong Kong film industry. My parents were probably the first generation of Hong Kong Cinema professionals migrating from mainland China. It was on those sound stages that I found my love for cinema. It seemed like magic to me. After living and working in Chicago in the arts & culture industry for 16 years, I am convinced that it’s time for me to pull from those roots and “recreate the magic” for my new home city and the next generation of fans.
I can’t believe that it was only one year ago that together with our founding board members, many of them here with us tonight, that we set out on our primary mission to cultivate and educate the general public on Asian culture through Asian film and introduce the Asian film industry to Chicago. After one year and two consecutive seasons, with 24 screenings of 18 films and bringing 5 Directors and Asian film industry professionals to Chicago. There’re still a lot to learn and a lot more to do, so thank you all for your continued generosity and support as we continue to pursue our mission.
September 16, 2015 Sophia Wong Boccio's Inaugural speech (Excerpt only)
Thank you all for attending the launch of Asian Pop-Up Cinema, presented by Sophia’s Choice, a 501 (c ) 3 cultural organization founded in May of this year with the multiple missions of:
1) cultivating the general public’s interest in Asian culture via diverse offerings of Asian films,
2) connecting the Asian film industry with local industry for both professional and educational exchanges; and
3) promoting Chicago as a destination for Asian film production.
I am the founder and executive director of Sophia’s Choice. I believe that we are living in a more diversified, socially and culturally connected world compared to just 10 years ago. We see global fusion everywhere, in our food, our music and even more so in our schools who, are now teaching Chinese language to our students. In order to be a culturally pro-active citizen in the new world we are living in, and for Chicago to be perceived as an international city, I believe it’s time for Chicago to embrace an Asian Film Festival. It’s also time to change people’s perception about Asian films as one genre only with Martial Arts or Kung Fu movies. There are stories to be told from Asia the same way our filmmakers here are making movies with all the other genres.
...... Movies from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan are enjoying robust growth with interesting content that allow us to better understand traditional and contemporary Asian culture and the issues, challenges, hopes and aspirations in their countries.
Asian Pop-Up Cinema is going to be this little soldier marching forward with a big goal to create the awareness, interest and support necessary to launch the first Chicago Asian Film Festival in the future. Tonight is the beginning of this journey. I hope you will join me, my Board of Directors and countless other supporters who have helped in launching the inaugural season of Asian Pop-Up Cinema and the soon to be Chicago Asian Film Festival. Through the Festival, I want to invite Asian filmmakers here to see our beautiful city, connect with our industry people who share their passion for filmmaking, and for the public to enjoy a diverse and educational spectrum of Asian films.