HIFF Report: Asian American Invasion
Jonathan Yi's "Shift"
Saturday at the Hawaii International Film Festival felt like Asian American Day. First, I (finally) saw "AMERICANese." Writer-director Eric Byler was present for the intro and Q&A again for this second screening. He says HIFF feels like home to him because, well, it is (he grew up on Oahu), but also because it was at HIFF a few years ago that Roger Ebert plucked "Charlotte Sometimes" out of obscurity.
Later in the evening, Eric came back for a Q&A session after the "DisORIENTation Shorts Program" screening, which included the TV pilot he directed, "My Life Disoriented." Writer Claire Yorita Lee was also there, as was Jacqueline Kim, who had starred in "Charlotte Sometimes," "Red Doors," and many many other films, but was at HIFF yesterday to represent her directorial debut, a highly stylized futuristic short called "Present." Also in attendance were Grace Su who directed "Future Rock Stars of America," a documentary about Asian American music group Far East Movement; Jon Maxwell, director of "It's Not Just You, Tommy Chu!," a comic meditation on an Asian guy dating women of various races; and Jerry Chan, director of "Fast Money," a short starring the cute Archie Kao ("CSI") about Asian gang violence in California.
In the audience were fellow blogger Phil Yu (angry asian man) and "Lost" star Daniel Dae Kim.
The directors of the three other shorts that screened couldn't be there: Christopher Yogi, director of "Maps," who's an Iolani and ACM grad and current student at USC film school; J.P. Chan, director of "Dry Clean Only," the only film of the bunch set in New York CIty; and Jonathan Yi, director of the excellently made "Shift," which he completed while an undergraduate at NYU film school.
I also stopped by the Q&A for "Colma: The Musical" which I had seen earlier and loved. The audience was exhuberant after watching the film, and filmmakers/actors Richard Wong, H.P. Mendoza, and L.A. Renigen were a gracious bunch. Finally, I caught part of Ron Oda and Kris Chin's funny "Asian Stories (Book III)," which played to a packed theater.
The only non-Asian American films I saw were "Street Thief" (the faux frenetic camera work made me dizzy...I thought that shaky MTV stuff was over already!) and "A Dirty Carnival" (mildly entertaining but unoriginal, shallow, and overlong Korean gangster flick). Better stick to the Asian American stuff!
>> FilmHawaii Seminar: A Conversation with Eric Byler on Mon, 10/30
>> HIFF Report: Winners, Molesters, Mochi
>> HIFF Report: Monster, Matty, Mujeres
>> Technical Difficulties at HIFF, on Blog
>> Hawaii Films at HIFF
>> Hawaiinuiakea Film Festival
>> LVHIFF 2005: A Retrospective
>> Asian American Film Festivals