THE NINTH Asian American Film Festival kicks off at 6:45 Thursday with a benefit premiere of Nancy Kelly's "Thousand Pieces of Gold," a true story about a Manchurian woman sold into slavery in the Pacific Northwest. Actress Rosalind Chao and producer Kenji Yamamoto will attend the screening at the Cineplex Odeon West End. Admission to the premiere, a benefit for the festival, is $25.

The festival features 15 programs of more than 25 films from Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and other countries, shown in a variety of venues. On Oct. 12 at 7, William Worthington's 1919 silent "Tong Man" will be followed by a panel discussion about Asian casting in Hollywood. Three animated children's films will be shown Oct. 13 at 3. Other films in the festival include Jinhua Yang's "China Diary," Henry Chow's "Peering From the Moon," Shinya Tsumamoto's Japanese cult movie "Iron Man," Huang Jianxin's "Samsara," Hou Hsiao Hsien's "Boys From Feng Kuei" and Arthur Dong's "Forbidden City." For information or reservations, call 301/622-9578.

THE U.S. College Korean Film Festival, sponsored by George Washington University's Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, will show seven Korean films over three consecutive Saturdays. It starts this Saturday with "First Son" at 6 and "The Whale Hunter" at 8. On Oct. 13 it's "Chilsu and Mansu" at 6 with "The Surrogate Woman" at 8. On Oct. 20, three movies will be shown: "My Rose Mallow" at 4, "The Age of Success" at 6, and "Adada" at 8. Admission per show is $5; they'll be shown in Dworetzky Auditorium (Room 103) in Funger Hall, 22nd and G streets NW. Call 202/994-7107 or 703/527-0115 for more information.

THE ARLINGTON Gay and Lesbian Alliance will premiere its news feature program "Significant Others" Thursday at 7:30 at the first-floor student lounge of George Mason University Law School, 3401 Fairfax Dr. in Arlington (across from the Virginia Square Metro). Future installments will be shown on Arlington Community Television Channel 33. Light refreshments will be served. A $10 contribution to AGLA is suggested. For more information, call executive producer Russell Snider at 703/532-4497.

THE NATIONAL Museum of African Art starts its free "Diverse Visions in Contemporary African Cinema" series at 2 Sunday, at the S. Dillon Ripley Center's lecture hall, with the documentary, "Ouaga: African Cinema Now." It also screens at 6:30 Tuesday at the National Museum of African Art's lecture hall. Other movies coming up include Burkina Faso filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo's "Yaaba." Call 202/357-4600 for more information.