As police arrested 39-year-old Kham Tu Ly at a department store on suspicion of stuffing nearly $500 worth of merchandise in her clothing, she apparently nodded ("the signal") to her 9-year-old son, who began to cry and scream: Shoplifting suspect used son as aide, police charge. Looks like they'd obviously rehearsed this one before.
Last year, Victor K. Han's wife drove the family minivan off a cliff at Bear Mountain State Park, killing herself and injuring their two children. This week, Han pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, acknowledging the he knew that his wife, Hejin Han, was contemplating suicide when he left her and their children in the car at the cliff: Plea Deal for Man Whose Wife Drove Off Cliff
Lina Sinha, the former principal of a Manhattan private school was convicted of having sex with one of her students in a classroom when he was about 13 and she was about 30: Jury Convicts Ex-Principal of Having Sex With Student. She faces up to seven years in prison on each of the two most serious counts of which she was convictedsodomy, or oral sex with the student, who is now a 24-year-old police officer, and bribing a witness to induce him not to testify. Is it me, or do we hear about this type of thing happening waaay too often these days?
This week, Florida authorities busted a major prostitution ring being run out of local massage parlors: Prostitution Ring Run Out Of Massage Parlors. The investigation involved ten different locations in Orange and Seminole counties, this time bringing down the alleged ringleader, 42-year-old Li Ping Ding. The story notes that in addition to Ding, authorities said they arrested 15 of her employees for prostitution or practicing massage without a license. At the moment, the license thing looks like the least of their problems.
In Chicago, bail was set at $3 million for Jae Harrell, charged with bludgeoning and strangling his mother, then dumping her body in a car along the Eisenhower Expressway last weekend: $3 million bail in death of woman found on Ike. Harrell is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Ruth Harrell, 59, his widowed mother with whom he lived.
Police say a women and baby found dead in an apartment in Westminster, CA appear to have been stabbed to death: Stabbing probably killed woman, baby. The bodies, which had likely decayed inside the apartment for days or weeks, were badly decomposed and unidentifiable, but the woman appears to be Vietnamese and in her 30s, and the baby, a Vietnamese girl who looked to be only months old.
Speaking of Journey From The Fall, someone forwarded me this impassioned email from director Ham Tran, responding to a negative review by critic Scott Foundas:
Hi everyone,Like Ham says, he's not complaining about a bad review... he's just taking issue with the misguided ignorance expressed by Foundas here. I think it's the "phony" part that really stings, especially since this story resonates so deeply with the thousands of Vietnamese Americans who really lived through it.
I would like to ask for your help to respond to the movie review written by Scott Foundas at the Village Voice, and syndicated by the OC Weekly. The following is his movie review:
JOURNEY FROM THE FALL
The fall of the title is that of South Vietnam and the journey is the long and arduous trek to America undertaken by one persecuted family--the wife, mother, and son of an unrepentant counter-revolutionary--while their absent patriarch rots in a Communist "re-education" camp. Beautifully made and sincere to a fault, Journey From the Fall comes touted by its writer-director, Ham Tran, as the Vietnamese equivalent of Schindler's List; in reality, the film carries
stronger echoes of The Joy Luck Club, as it juxtaposes grueling torture and heroic escape against the sometimes equally Sisyphean struggles of settling into a new life in a new country. Such intentions can't be faulted, and Tran's film is laudable as one of the few movies to depict Vietnam and its aftermath through the eyes of the Vietnamese. But at a moment when directors as varied as Clint Eastwood, Paul Verhoeven, and Ken Loach are discovering innovative and meaningful ways of dramatizing the great man-made atrocities of the 20th century, Tran's reliance on declamatory political dialogue and movie-of-the-week inspirationalism feels decidedly old-fashioned and, finally, even phony. (Scott Foundas)"
It's not that I mind getting a bad movie review, but to call this film "phony" is exactly the kind of ignorant mentality that we have had to struggle against in the last 30 years. It is the kind of language that has excluded our community's terrible ordeals from historical consciousness. This reviewer needs to know that what the speech in the re-education camp that the communist official lectures to the prisoners is not what he calls "declamatory political dialogue," but they are the actual words lectured by the communists to the re-education camp prisoners. Chu Son, who is the person who plays the communist
lecturer, recited that entire speech by heart because it was what the communist forced him to memorize. This speech is by far not "scripted"; these are the words that he was forced to listen to every night for 3 years, until they are forever burned into his memory.
I need your help to reply directly to the publishers for OC Weekly and the Village Voice. The link below is the review and you can click on "Contact Us about this article" to respond: http://www.ocweekly.com/film/new-reviews/new-reviews/26919/?page=2
Please lend your voice to speak out against such ignorance that has kept our story silent for so many years. We need to demand a public apology from these publishers. We need to this critic know that this film is not just a dreamt up story, but that this film depicts the actual experiences of millions of Vietnamese refugees. His comment on the film is an insult the true hardships that our people have had to endure, and it must not be taken lightly.
Thank you very much, and please continue to get your family and friends to come out and support this film.
For those waiting for Journey From The Fall to hit your city... the movie opens today in Houston and Dallas, and next week in San Diego and Arlington, VA. Check the website for the full list of theaters and dates. Let's hope the film has another killer weekend at the box office.
UPDATE: Here's Foundas' contact info: Scott Foundas, Film Editor, LA Weekly, 6715 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90028, email@example.com.
Sounds like it could be a really fun experience. Beau turned a lot of heads recently with his frank and thoughtful "Open Letter to All the Rosie O'Donnells," so let's hope this is piece for AZN is as interesting and provocative.
Call for Asian American extras of all ethnicities and ages!
We are looking for a diverse range of people for a public service announcement that is going to be filmed on April 1st in Downtown Los Angeles from 8:30am - 12:30pm.
The PSA is written by Beau Sia to be aired on AZN tv in the month of May. We want to show the diversity of Asian America. Extras will not have to speak, just be present behind Beau in the shot.
Please send a photo and RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Meals and parking will be provided, as well as a small stipend.
Here is Beau's most recent work:
"I express my sympathy toward the comfort women and apologize for the situation they found themselves in," Abe told a parliamentary debate, using a euphemism used by Japanese politicians to refer to former sex slaves. "I apologize here and now as prime minister."It's obviously an attempt to quell the international outcry caused by his denials earlier this month. Still, these remarks fall way short of a clear acknowledgement that the Japanese wartime military was involved in forcing the women into prostitution. And that's unacceptable.
I've been getting a ton of email about this new Asian-themed campaign for Hot Pockets. Yes, Hot Pockets. The crappy microwaveable bread thing with gooey food inside. Available in the freezer section of your local supermarket. The commercials feature this accented Asian "dojo master" guy telling people that what they're really hungry for is Hot Pockets. The highly unoriginal campaign draws all sorts of the usual Asian stereotypes. The website takes you into the Hot Pockets Dojo, "deep in the remote mountains of China." Last I checked, "dojo" was a Japanese term. Inside the dojo, you'll find the barking Master with all sort of lame faux Asian imagery. It's idiotic. What any of this idiotic campaign has to do with Hot Pockets, I don't know. That's racist! Thankfully, they've provided this handy contact form to let them know how you feel. You can also call the Nestle Hand-held Foods Group's Consumer Affairs feedback line at 1-800-350-5016. I imagine you might have some words to share.
Maybe you've seen an ad or two for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's sexy/horror/action double feature Grindhouse. It's their tribute to the bad bad superbad 1970s exploitation films that used to show in seedy movie houses of a bygone era. The double feature ("Death Proof" and "Planet Terror") will also include an intermission and trailers for fake coming attractions (directed by their filmmaker buddies). I bring all this up because one of the trailers, Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the S.S., features Nicolas Cage as a character named "Fu Manchu." Greaaaaat. Does this mean we can expect to see that crazy fool in yellowface? Because that's something I don't need to see. Actually, given the history of the Sax Rohmer's characterand it stereotypical yellow peril variationsthroughout literature and cinema, having a white dude play Fu Manchu would probably be fitting. That said, I will be the first to stand up in the theater and yell out, "HEY! THAT GUY'S NOT ASIAN!"
UPDATE: Here's the full trailer of Werewolf Women of the S.S., with Nicolas Cage showing up at the end as Fu Manchu: Werewolf Women of the SS - Grindhouse trailer. It looks like they drew on his facial hair with a magic marker.
Angarano will play a troubled 17-year-old wannabe kung fu warrior who, after a humiliating defeat at the hands of a street gang, is sent back in time to ancient China on an impossible mission to set free the imprisoned Monkey King (Li) and return to him his all-powerful staff.While the thought of Jackie Chan and Jet Li in a movie together has a certain novelty, I think I lost interest in this a long time ago. And this silly, awful description really doesn't do anything to change that. Sure, I'd like to see a "J & J" movie, but this definitely does not sound like the one I wanted to see
Six people have been charged with pimping and operating ten brothels staffed by women from China in what authorities said was the largest prostitution investigation ever in Orange County: Six charged in Southland prostitution ring
Last week, Harvard senior Julie Chu was the 2007 winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the nation's top women's college hockey player: Harvard's Chu nation's finest. She's a two-time U.S. Olympian, a three-time All-America selection, and leaves Harvard as the leading scorer in NCAA history with 284 points.
More troubles for the Fun Wah bus line... last week, a driver on his second day on the job abruptly tried to change lanes and wedged a bus full of passengers on top of a concrete barrier at a Massachusetts Turnpike toll booth: Fung Wah driver wedges bus atop barrier. Please, no Asian driver jokes.
A man awaiting trial for scamming hundreds of Cambodian immigrants out of more than $30 million through a fraudulent investment scheme allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill 11 witnesses and a codefendant: US says suspect hired a hit man
Looks like Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang will begin the season on the disabled list: Yanks put Wang on disabled list with hamstring pull
A large Korean War memorial planned for Kissena Park in Flushing has attracted significant support from veterans and Korean American donors, but has also drawn a criticism from the longtime members of the Kissena Park Civic Association: For a War Rarely Honored, a Disputed Memorial. Something about urine-inducing grass.
Ann Curry is in Sudanher third visit in twelve monthsto report on the suffering in Darfur: Ann Curry's Ambition: To Witness the Suffering. I have a crush on Ann Curry.
Better performers than Sanjaya have already been sent home. I haven't been following the competition very closely this season, but I've seen Sanjaya perform a couple of times, and he's waaaaay out of his league. The love/hate frenzy over Sanjaya is intense! Things got really bizarre on last week's show when they kept showing this crazed, crying girl in the audience during his performance, apparently moved to tears by the S-Boy's rousing rendition of "You Really Got Me." Maybe she's the girl who keeps calling to vote. There's also an extremely vocal anti-Sanjaya movement out there fueled by people who are truly horrified at the prospect of him winning the competition. They believe this is a crisis, and they're out to preserve not only the sanctity of American Idol, but the very notion of American democracy. One American Idol viewer has even gone on a hunger strike: Starvation for Sanjaya. According to her MySpace page, "So until the day that Sanjaya is no longer American Idol, I will be going on a hunger strike. This means I will refuse to eat anything until American Idol voters wise up, and stop voting Sanjaya through each week." That is some crazy kind of dedication.
And Vote For The Worst, a website proudly dedicated to destroying American Idol, has been urging visitors to vote for him. The logic is, what better way to demonstrate the suckiness of Idol than to have everybody vote for the suckiest guy to win? Maybe they're the ones responsible for this. The xenophobic reaction, of course, is to point to all the South Asian voters (millions of them!) who are allegedly keeping Sanjaya in the competition. Maybe they are. Whatever the case, I find this all highly amusing. Heck, I'd love to see the South Asian kid win. And I'd love to see the takedown and ridicule of Idol even more. If Sanjaya wins, I'll be laughing. We'll see if he survives another round this week...
By the way, the latest issue of Asia Pacific Arts has a great interview with director Ham Tran: Confronting the Past: Ham Tran on the Making of Journey From the Fall. (They've also got a whole bunch of coverage of Mira Nair's The Namesake.) There's also a bunch of great video interviews on Asian Pacific Arts' YouTube channel. It's all really good stuff, so check it out.
I saw this a while ago, and forgot to post something about it... Thanks to Carmen at Racialicious for reminding me. This totally subtle anti-smoking ad is targeted towards Asians. Yes, that's a guy kicking the cigarette's butt (ha ha), martial arts style. Brilliant. Thank you, California Smokers Hotline. Telling it to us Asians in a way we understand...
UPDATE: Actually, the above ad looks a lot like this one of Jackie Chan kicking the crap out of a giant cigarette. It was created by the American Cancer Society in 2001. I guess the California Smokers Hotline didn't have the budget to hire Jackie Chan... so they drew a picture instead. (Thanks, Chi-wang)
SO WHAT CAN WE DO? 5 WAYS YOU CAN TAKE ACTIONPersonally, I think the more voices we have out there representing and making a ruckus, the better. I've always found it a little troubling that regular MTV, vanguard of American youth culture, had to relegate Asian America to their separate ghetto-ized networks, instead of finding a place on regular MTV programming. But I do appreciate the work that Desi, Chi and K have been trying to do. So if you feel strongly about this, sign the petition, get the word out, and help MTV World (and the dedicated people who work there) have a fighting chance.
1. SIGN THE PETITION!!!
This is of utmost importance. It takes LESS than a minute. This petition will be sent to everyone at MTV and major media outlets.
GO TO: http://www.petitiononline.com/MTVWORLD/petition.html. Forward this to everyone you know!
2. DRAFT A PASSIONATE-POSITIVE LETTER TO STOP MTV FROM SHUTTING DOWN OUR VOICES!
Please write a letter expressing your disappointment and desire for the re-emergence of the channels. We want to educate MTV on the voice of our community. Letters will make a BIG Difference! Address letters to: Attn: Judy McGrath, CEO, MTV Networks, 1515 Broadway, 28th floor, New York, NY 10036
3. COVER THIS IN THE MEDIA!
If you are a journalist-- write about this. This is a bigger story than simply MTV downsizing, this is about Asian Americans being silenced without a fair chance to succeed. PRESS CONTACT: SaveMTVWorld@gmail.com. A team member will be in touch with you immediately.
4. MAKE A VIDEO ABOUT THIS AND UPLOAD TO YOUTUBE/MYSPACE
Let's get this message out in every way we can. (Beau Sia's post about Rosie O'Donnell 'ching-chong' comment received over 400,000 views--see link below)
5. STUDENTS: MOBILIZE YOUR STUDENT GROUPS! WRITE LETTERS, PETITION, PROTEST, MAKE VIDEOS...Make it happen!
Tonight kicks off the San Jose leg of SFIAAFF, if your crew hangs closer to the Silicon Valley side of things, with a screening of David Ren's Shanghai Kiss. I'd been hearing about this film for a couple of years, when it was still in its baby stages... and from what I hear, the wait has been worth it. Word on the street is, it received quite a bit of festival buzzat least from the people I talked to. The film stars Ken Leung and Kelly Hu, among others... and if you're not in San Jose tonight, hopefully you'll be seeing it soon.
Last night, winners were announced at the festival's Closing Night Awards cerememony... Stephane Gauger's Owl and the Sparrow won Best Narrative Feature, and Eric Byler's Tre took home the Special Jury Award. As for documentaries, Socheata Poeuv's New Year Baby took Best Documentary Feature, with the Special Jury Award going to Tami Yeager's A Dream in Doubt. The Audience Awards for narrative and documentary went to Desmond Nakano's American Pasttime and Lisette Marie Flanary's Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula, respectively. Be on the lookout for these films at a film festival near you...
What's worse is the legion of fans on YouTube and elsewhere that the song has generatedfans who vehemently defend and praise the song for whatever reason. I know people just want say, hey, can't you take a joke? But it's crap like this that continues to caricature and dehumanize Chinese food deliverymen and other similar laborers who are just trying to make an honest living. It perpetuates the notion that they're somehow less than human. Don't tell me there's no connection with this sentiment and the high rate of crime and violence directed towards Chinese food deliverymen. That's racist!
A blog has been set up specifically to create awareness and action against this song: CKY=KKK: Against the Chinese Freestyle Racist Rap. Learn more and follow the controversy there. (Thanks, Ekachai)
Along similar lines, here's the official site for the upcoming movie Mongol, about the early life of Genghis Khan. Believe it or not, the movie is directed by Sergei Bodrov, the same guy who directed Nomad. And if I'm not mistaken, this is the same project that originally had Khan being played by Channing Tatum (yes, a white guy), who reportedly dropped out due to scheduling conflict. As you can see from the photo (the guy with the sword), Khan is played Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano. The movie is scheduled to be released this year from Picturehouse.
The week has flown by... tonight is Closing Night of the 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, with the screening of Dark Matter, followed by a reception and awards ceremony at the Palace of Fine Arts. Dark Matter the debut film from renowned New York-based Chinese opera director Chen Shi-Zheng, based on the true story of a talented Chinese physics student whose strained psyche begins to unravel in the face of miscommunication and school politics. At least, that's what I think it's about. I missed this one at Sundance, but it's sounds like a doozy. (And oh yeah, it stars Meryl Streep.) I don't think things end well. But hey, it's Closing Night, and that's always fun. For those of you in the South Bay (represent!), the San Jose portion of the festival begins tomorrow...
This is a really great resource... the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives have recently been re-designed and updated. It's an amazing trove of photographs, personal histories and background information on the Japanese American internment experience. There are even teacher-created lesson plans. Visit the site, poke around, a learn a thing or two...
Talk of a new Green Hornet movie has been bouncing around for years from studio to studio, with little to show for it. Last I heard, Kevin Smith had his hands on it, but that apparently fell through This time, the film rights have landed at Columbia Pictures, and it's being produced by Neal Moritz: Superhero Green Hornet may fly again in film. As fans know, Bruce Lee played the role of Kato on the old 1960s Green Hornet television show. So the question is, as we've always asked when there's talk of a Green Hornet movie, who will play Kato? Because let's face itno one gives a crap about the Green Hornet. We care about Kato, and he better kick ass.
As I've mentioned here several times before, Ham Tran's feature film Journey From The Fall opens in select cities this Friday, March 23rd from ImaginAsian Pictures. It's the epic story of one family's struggle for freedom and survival in the aftermath of the fall of Saigon in 1975. The film spans the city's burning streets, to imprisonment in Communist re-education camps, to the perilous sea escape from Vietnam, and the family's new life in the United States. It's an incredibly ambitious movie; you aren't supposed to make first features like this. And yet Ham Tran has done it, and he's made one hell of a film, bringing cinematic voice to the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese Americans whose lives and stories reflect this journey. And it's a true American story.
The movie opens on Friday at theaters in New York, Orange County and San Jose. As with most independent Asian American films, this first weekend is critical for Journey From The Fall's theatrical run. If it does well this weekend, it will likely open in more theaters and citiesand this is the kind of film that everyone should go out and see. Here's a list of opening weekend theaters (and beyond):
SAN JOSE, CA: Camera 12
NEW YORK, NY: The ImaginAsian
GARDEN GROVE, CA: Regal Garden Grove Stadium 16
WESTMINSTER, CA: Edwards Westminster 10
HOUSTON, TX: Cinemark Tinseltown Westchase
DALLAS (GARLAND), TX: Cinemark Hollywood USA Movies 15
DALLAS (GRAND PRAIRIE), TX: Cinemark Movies 16
CHICAGO (EVANSTON), IL: Century 12 Evanston/CineArts 6
SAN FRANCISCO, CA: 4 Star Theatre
As you can see, the roll-out plan is pretty limited right now. But if it does well this weekend in every city, it'll expand to other cities. Maybe even your city. So get the word out! I've talked about this film enough over the last year, festival after festival. Now it's your turn to go see it and get the word out. To learn more about the film, go here. And go here for a video message from the director and producer of Journey From The Fall.
More good stuff happening tonight at SFIAAFF, including the indie-pop edition of the festival's annual music showcase, Directions in Sound. With performances from KIIIIIII, Scrabbel, Dreamdate and DJ Pickpocket. Tonight at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco.
As for films, there's David Kaplan's pseudo-animated modern Cinderella drama Year of the Fish, fresh from Sundance, as well as Socheata Poeuv's award-winning documentary New Year Baby, both playing at the Opera Plaza.
Over at the Van Ness, you've got films like Doan Hoang's Oh Saigon, a documentary about one Vietnamese refugee family's story. It's paired in the same program with the Hung Nguyen's deeply moving short documentary Going Home. There's also Nick Broomfield's Ghosts, a fictionalized account of a true 2004 tragedy, when twenty-three illegal Chinese workers drowned at England's Morecambe Bay. And on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, you've got Johnnie To's acclaimed Hong Kong crime drama Exiled, his semi-sequel to 1999's The Mission. Lots of intense looks and dudes with guns. Finally, there's Joy Dietrich's long-awaited feature Tie a Yellow a Ribbon, a drama about the complex emotional struggles of Asian American women, and one of the first feature films to address the alarmingly high rates of suicide and depression among Asian American women. That should keep you busy tonight.
West 32nd, directed by Michael Kang, written by Michael Kang and Edmund Lee. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. After hustling his way onto a homicide case, an ambitious young lawyer (John Cho) infiltrates the gritty Korean underworld of New York, searching for clues. When he meets his match in the syndicate, they'll both do anything to get to the top. It's a raw and thrilling race. In English and Korean.I know you've been looking forward to seeing this one. It's gonna be a party. The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 25-May 6. More info to come...
UPDATE:The West 32nd website has been updated with a nifty splash page with a first look at the movie. Not much there yet, but it does include a link to the trailer, so take a look.
NPR story (and detailed timeline) on Carol Lam, one of eight U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department: How Prosecutor Lam's Case Was Handled
Yet another Nanking Massacre-based movie project, this one by Hong Kong director Yim Ho: Director Yim Ho's Nanjing Massacre Story Approved. I've lost count of how many of these movies are being worked on right now.
Last week, Jonathan Phong Khanh was convicted of killing a 15-year-old prostitute and sexually assaulting three other young girls: Tran guilty in prostitute's death, assaults
The Gersh Agency has signed comedian Henry Cho after his recent performances at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen: Gersh signs comic Cho.
A South Korean soldier may be a U.S. military deserter after he left his U.S. base and joined the South Korean army, apparently to avoid a tour of duty in Iraq: S.Korea haggles with U.S. on soldier who ducked Iraq
Tired of the fakers, Japan recently approved a campaign to certify "real" Japanese food overseas, including sushi: Japan to certify 'real'
Ratana Veth, a popular Cambodian actress and karaoke singer, is married to a Cambodian grocer and living in the Bronx: New Digs for 'Queen of the Fish'
Another good story on actor Kal Penn, who's having a heck of a year: Still in Touch With His Jersey Roots, an Actor Mines His Talent
Interesting Los Angeles Times story on cultural and generational issues facing Asian American churches: Asian American churches face leadership gap
In Syracuse, NY, a man wounded his wife and fatally shot his son over the son's marriage, then held police at bay for nearly 30 hours before he was found dead inside the home: N.Y. Standoff Ends With Father, Son Dead
A really fascinating (and painful) story on the survivors of foot binding: Painful Memories for China's Footbinding Survivors. What a stupid thing to make someone do.
Another article checking in on the landscape of (surviving) Asian American television networks: Scene Change for Asian TV
We have some winners... thank you to everyone who participated in The Host poster giveaway (courtesy of Magnolia Pictures). Here are the lucky three:
Nancy W. of Schertz, TX (favorite monster movie: Interview with the Vampire)
Evan O. of San Gabriel, CA (favorite movie monster: "The Ring girl")
Andi B. of Irvine, CA (favorite movie monster: "fucking velociraptors from Jurassic Park")
They've each scored themselves a poster of The Host, autographed by director Bong Joon-Ho. The movie continues to open in theaters all around the country this weekend. For a full list of dates and theaters, go here. John S., an enthusiastic reader who loved The Host was inspired to create these two kickass pieces of art. Very cool. It's just a freaking awesome monster flick, so check out The Host and have a good time at the movies.
For those in Los Angeles, check out the singer/songwriter showcase IndieGo, this Friday, March 23rd at Tangier, featuring the likes of Ginnicide, Scott Tang, Franki Love, Kiyoshi Graves, and a rare West Coast performance by Kevin So. Doors open at 7:00pm. More good times. It should be a lot of fun, so be there.
And this week in New York, the 14th Annual Forum on Asian/Pacific American Youth Culture is happening March 23rd at New York University's Silver Center. This year's forum title is "Breaking Free: The APAYA Revolution." Looks like a great way for enthusiastic young people to get involved with activism and empowerment, with workshops relating family, dating, gender, hate crimes, consumerism, the internet, media, music, and spoken word. For more information, go here.
I was hoping to write up some stuff about SFIAAFF over the weekend, but alas, life got in the way. Nevertheless, there are several good, solid days of the festival left, with a great schedule of films... Like tonight, there's the Music Video Asia 2007 shorts program, a blend of cool, wacky, fresh and fun videos from Asian and Asian American bands. There's also Stephane Gauger's feature debut Owl and the Sparrow, a romance set in modern Saigon. And Asian American film fans, old and new, shouldn't pass up the chance to see the 1988 film The Wash, a tribute to the late Mako, who performs alongside the late Nobu McCarthy in a story by acclaimed playwright Philip Kan Gotanda. Newschoolers could learn a thing a two from these folks. Another film I've been really looking forward to seeing is Romeo Candido's Filipino supernatural thriller Ang Pamana: The Inheritance. The online trailer gave me the creeps, and the film's premiere was a hit at the Hawaii International Film Festival late last year. Finally, one of the films I'm most curious about is Juwan Chung's Los Angeles gang drama Baby, which seems to be part of a recent trend of Asian American gangster films. And I like gangster films.
"The Chinese are very smart. Just think: Have you ever met a dumb Chinaman? ...Very seldom do you see Chinese restaurants close. I'm in the restaurant business, and it's very tough. They work very hard."Community leaders and officials at the council immediately called for an apology, which he issued in statement from his spokesman. He claims that he was unaware the term "Chinaman" was derogatory. You've got to be kidding me. A guy who is supposed to be a well-traveled world business leader? We live in an ignorant world.
Speaking of world leaders making stupid comments, Canadian politician Andre Boisclair was talking about global competition from Asian economies like India and China and the number of young people from these countries coming to study in the U.S., when he said:
"The reality is these countries are not just working to create jobs in sweatshops... When I was in Boston [studying at Harvard]... I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting eyes."That's racist! Not only is it an offensive racist stereotype, there's also the xenophobic presumption that everyone with "slanted eyes" could only be from a foreign nation like China or India. When called on his comments, Boisclair adamantly refused to apologize: Boisclair won't say he's sorry for "slanting eyes" comment aimed at Asians. More here: Boisclair won't apologize. He claims the comment he made, "les yeux bridés" (slanting eyes) is an acceptable expression in French: Boisclair defends 'slanting eyes' comments. I find that suspect. I don't care what language he used. That's racist!
All right. This is it. The 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival starts today, and runs through March 25th in locations around the Bay Area. Congratulations, SFIAAFF. Twenty-five years. The festivities kick off tonight with the Opening Night Gala presentation of Justin Lin's Finishing the Game at the Castro Theatre. Fresh from Sundance, it's a hilarious 1970s-era mockumentary about Hollywood's attempt to find a replacement for Bruce Lee and finish Game of Death. Should be an exciting, historic evening.
Over the next ten days, I'll try to highlight some of the noteworthy programs and screenings happening during the festival. Tomorrow night, the first two films in SFIAAFF's Hong Sang Soo Retrospective, celebrating the works of the master South Korean director. And on the complete opposite side of the spectrum... a 20th anniversary screening John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China. Hands down, one of the craziest movies ever made, playing at one of the greatest film festivals in the nation.
UPDATE: The contest is now closed. Thank you for entries. Winners will be announced shortly
Speaking of poets, Queens is looking for a new poet laureate: What Rhymes With Queens? The amazing Ishle Yi Park became the borough's poet laureate in 2004 (beating out Run-DMC's Reverend Run!), making us all pretty damn proud.
9:42 -- Coming out of commercial, we see a replay of Yao's finger getting bent back on a rebound and Yao screaming in pain, followed by Gorman reporting that Yao went to the locker room to get it checked out, then Tommy joking, "That was his chopstick finger, too, he may not be able to eat anymore!" and Gorman changing the subject as fast as humanly possible.True, true. It's the old guys that always seem to make the bonehead comments. No, wait. Young guys make the bonehead comments too. Okay, I guess no one is really immune to making bonehead comments. That's racist!
(The lesson, as always: It's never dull when anyone older than 70 is allowed near a microphone during a sporting event.)
The fantastic South Korean monster movie The Host opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday, and to celebrate this occasion the fine folks at Magnolia Pictures are giving away three posters, signed by acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho, to the good readers of this website. It's this crazy awesome image of a monster tail-thing coming out of the water. Tell me that is not cool.
To enter the drawing, you must answer three very easy questions: 1) Name one of director Bong Joon-ho's previous films. 2) Name one of actor Song Kang-ho's previous films. 3) Name your favorite movie monster (no wrong answer for this one).
Email me your answers, along with your mailing address, with "HOST POSTER" clearly written in the subject line, by Wednesday, March 14th. Duplicate entries, as well as entries that don't follow these simple instructions, will be thrown out. Three winners will be randomly picked from the correct responses. Good luck. To learn more about The Host, go here.
UPDATE: The contest is now closed. Thank you for entries. Winners will be announced shortly.
Here's a good interview with director Bong: Exclusive: The Host's Bong Joon-ho. I highly recommend this film. I had heard it was a huge hit in Korea, and a lot of folks told me it was pretty damn awesome, so my expectations were high. I don't particularly like or dislike monster movies, but given the kind of Hollywood garbage that passes for a creature feature these days, the genre hasn't done much for me in recent years.
The Host isn't perfect, but damn, it's a hell of a fun ride. On the surface, you could say The Host is about a horrifying monster that emerges from the Han River to wreak havoc on the people of Seoul. The gigantic monster eats people. That could sum it up.
But Bong takes it to another level, telling the story of a family trying to get their beloved daughter back. At first thinking she's dead, they realize she has survived the monster attack when they hear her voice over a faint cell phone call. So they set off to get her back. It helps that her uncle was once a crafty student protestor during his college days, and her aunt is a ranking medalist in archery. These skills will, of course, come in handy later.
Outside the standard monster movie plot, the film explores issues of U.S. military occupation, the country's deep class divide, the breakdown of the family unit. And like Bong's previous films, he manages to mix in the frightening and creepy stuff with some wonderfully comic moments. There was a scene where literally laughing and crying at the same time.
It's a shining gem in the genreI really hope this film gets the audience it deserves in the United States. My only real concern is that much of its appeal is so culturally specific, it'll just be passed off as a substandard monster flick by American audiences. But there's so much more to it!
I can see why this movie was such a box office smash in Korea. Korean audiences got to see this grotesque beast chomping up people on the shore of the Han, right there in their own locale. They must have ate it up. It's also the main reason why the announced Hollywood remake is such a terrible idea. Anyway, go check out The Host, even if you don't like monster movies. It's an enormously entertaining good ride.
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