Saturday, April 08, 2006

Postponed notes post-SF Festival

So it's been over three weeks since the last time I checked in here on my own status. I seem to spend most of the time catching up with myself, esp. the last few weeks which have been very eventful.

The week of March 20th was a triumphant homecoming to San Francisco for the San Francisco Asian American International Film Festival. Dastaar screened in a program called "Grassroots Rising" a collection of shorts depicting social activism campaigns throughout the Asian American community.

The other films were great:

Therese Thanjan's short WHOSE CHILDREN ARE THESE? enters the world of three South Asian youth navigating a post 9/11 federal program called Special Registration. The film is a deeply moving portrayal of how these young people deal with their unfortunate circumstances with wisdom and dignity way beyond their years.

Robert C. Winn's GRASSROOTS RISING takes a close look at the lives of immigrant workers from Asia working in Los Angeles. Revealing their heart-wrenching stories of abuse and tragedy, GRASSROOTS RISING shows how these workers use their experience to fight for justice in spite of the threat of imprisonment and deportation.

All the films received a tremendous response from the audience. Here's a picture of me unfortunately blocking Leslie Ito, producer of GRASSROOTS RISING. More visible are Therese and Robert handling Q&A:

Therese and Robert's films were sponsored in part through the Center for Asian American Media, the largest Asian America media organization in the country and organizers of the SF Asian American Film Fest. I had a good time meeting some of the Center staff and learning more about the opportunities for support provided by their Media Fund. One thing that's keeping me busy these days is funding proposals -- not much that's sexy to write about there, but that's what I'm doing.

Though I was busy with work, I did get to see a few other films while I was there. I got to rewatch THE CRIMSON KIMONO, a brilliant 50s detective move by the great Sam Fuller, starring James Shigeta in a rare Asian American lead performance, a cop who goes into an Othello-esque tailspin when he finds himself in love with a white woman. My favorite film of the fest was THE BURNT THEATRE, a beguiling blend of documentary and fiction concerning a drama ensemble in Cambodia struggling to find ways to pursue their passion after their theatre has burned down. LINDA LINDA LINDA was a really fun SCHOOL OF ROCK-esque tale of three high school seniors who form a rock band and set out to give a performance to blow the school's roof off. As my brother put it, no other film quite captures the feel of what it's like during one's last weeks of high school, marking time while trying to come up with one big way to leave one's mark. Lastly, I was really impressed by the festival's closing night feature, Ham Tran's JOURNEY FROM THE FALL, a gut-wrenching saga of a family torn apart by the Vietnam War. It was as powerful and accomplished as THE DEER HUNTER, only told from the point of view of Vietnamese who suffered through so much upheaval and bloodshed.

Big thanks to Chi-hui Yang and Taro Gato for leading the festival to another stellar year -- I'm really grateful that I got to take part this time.

1 comment:

SikhsRus said...

Just found out about your film "Dastaar" on I am sure there are thousands of Sikhs who appreciate people like yourself that are helping bring Sikh awareness into America. Wish you all the success on "Dastaar" and your future films!