Angry Reader of the Week: Jennifer Phang

"I want a future where it's still okay to be a good person."

Photo credit: Chuin Phang

Hey, folks! It is my pleasure to introduce you to another Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Jennifer Phang.

Who are you?

Jennifer Thuy Lan Phang. 彭翠兰
Of the families Ho and Phang .

What are you?

Burdened by run-on thoughts.

Yesterday it was "Did my high school Honors US History and AP English classes shape my entire identity by teaching me critical thinking skills? Wait, does everyone in America know what critical thinking is? If that's the case has that helped anything? Do we need to fine tune how we raise and educate people? Yeah."

These questions can be too much for a relaxed dinner conversation. So they end up in stories and films where I attempt to make nerds and thinkers look like the potential heroes they are.

Photo credit: Qi Luo

Where are you?

Oakland as I start writing this... now I'm in New York in my friend Richard Kim's place.

Richard is an old friend and the on-screen violist character in Advantageous who improvised his own pieces. I think of him as a part of our musical narration. He also wrote the prop tablet contracts in beautiful detail and voiced the conservative radio pundit.

It's nostalgic to return to Brooklyn and Manhattan where I lived for three years. The ITVS short film Advantageous was made here, and this is where we shot the feature too. So after Advantageous the feature premiered at Sundance (and won a Jury Prize !!) having BAMcinemaFest host our NYC premiere is perfect for us.

What I liked about living here was that it was hard for me to hide from life truths because I frequently glimpsed into other people's lives in the subway. And this town has a real respect for art. The people I hung out with (like Richard) craved dialogue, expression, and knowledge.

I realize this happens in the SF Bay Area too. Many Bay residents attempt to balance hard truths with taking actual action in their day-to-day. From simple (important) things like composting, to acting against social injustice -- with whatever resources they have.

It's really interesting to watch people fuse their self-interest with finding a way for more people to co-exist. It takes a rare forward-thinker to see self-interest in being a world citizen, since "caring too much" can sometimes feel lonely.

So that's a little bit about where I am.

Where are you from?

Born in Berkeley, grew up in Walnut Creek, California, but also lived in Malaysia, Durham, North Carolina, New York City, and Los Angeles for years at a time.

My mom is from Mỹ Tho, Vietnam. My dad was born in the Borneo rainforests in Sarawak. (Legend has it, in a cave.) My bro Jeff was raised in Walnut Creek. He likes Spartan Races, drone photography, and Teslas.

Photo credit: Qi Luo

What do you do?

Direct, write, produce, edit, and I'm an occasional hand stand in. You can see some of this work in Advantageous.

I sometimes help spread the word about films, mine and others.

Here's the website advantageous.me where you can see the trailer and sample and purchase Timo Chen's award-winning score for our film.

And by the way, in addition to starring as Gwen Koh, Jacqueline Kim came on to co-write and produce the feature with me and our team, and she composed a piano piece she plays in a quiet moment. All of her contributions were recognized with the inaugural Linda Mabalot Renaissance Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Advantageous opens theatrically in NYC and SF on June 26.

.... in San Francisco at the Roxie. ( I will be doing a Q & A with our VFX supervisor and Sound Designer at the Big Roxie 9 pm show, Sunday June 28.)

...in New York at the Cinema Village this coming Friday, June 26. I will be in NYC at the Friday, June 26 opening shows, moderated by Emily Yoshida of THE VERGE at 7 pm.

For people unable to see it theatrically in NYC and SF they can catch it streaming exclusively Netflix... and if they don't have Netflix they can also buy it off of iTunes.

Here's the Netflix description:

Set in the near future, Advantageous focuses on Gwen Koh, a single mother, whose aspirations for her daughter drive her to the precipice of a fraught decision. Including eerie and ingenious low-key special effects and a deliciously understated performance by Jacqueline Kim, this sci-fi film is rife with underlying tension and lyrical beauty perfectly matching the city's atmosphere of quiet desperation.

Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Sin Nombre) was one of our jurors at Sundance. When we met he said that, among its other qualities, he liked that Advantageous was an Asian American film that wasn't only about being Asian American. I was glad someone noticed! It's more interesting for me to portray Asian Americans as regular people having complex human problems that may not always be exclusive to their cultural background.

I also wrote and directed Half-Life and edited and exec. produced Crazy Beats Strong Every Time.

When I need a rest from staring at computers I try to hike and scuba and float in rivers.

What are you all about?

I have deep love and fear of the ocean.

Trying harder to be a world citizen, which means thinking through what I do that effects other people, even people across the earth who I will never meet.

Today my big thought is: "What happens to a person after peak cynicism?" I'm afraid of the answer... Which makes me realize why hope has so much value. Maybe that's why Sci-fi and fantasy works for me.

I want a future where it's still okay to be a good person -- a future where you're rewarded for being consistent with your ideals. I know! It's a crazy idea!

What makes you angry?

These days, I don't get too angry. I usually get analytical, or at worst, amused... But here's what pisses me off:

People who take pleasure in taking and distorting the meaning of buzzwords for political battles. Like "entitled" and "entitlement."

People who point fingers when they themselves have slipped up, or given up, so they may win at all costs.

Having little choice but to bait and outpace a t-rex in 3 inch heels. But you gotta set a great example. As a woman.

But mostly I am impatient with people using their intelligence and experience and way with words to look great, while they harm those with less power, awareness, and experience. You might have noticed this sentiment in Advantageous.


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