Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dispatches from the SF International Asian American Film Festival - Part V

Hip Hapa's coverage of this year's SFIAAFF features two intrepid hapa reporters whose skill, dedication, moxy, and insight will bring you the low-down on the hottest film festival in town. Today's entry is brought to you by Yasmine Gomez:

The World, Complicated (shorts program)--Several people recommended this shorts program to me, so I decided to check it out. The host warned us that this was not the "feel good" program, but that these films would haunt and linger, which they definitely did. Dreamtrace followed a couple in a strangely confined space, as they dreamed for a better future. I also enjoyed Windowbreaker which brought new light to racial profiling. In an amusing Hapa-related scene, the Asian mother warns her two young kids to lock the door after she leaves the house because of the "dangerous" Vietnamese teens that hang around the neighborhood. The daughter then whispers to her brother, "But we're Vietnamese," to which the brother replies, "We're HALF Vietnamese." Another interesting visual piece was the CGI-animated Doll Face, exposing society's desire for beauty as determined by the media. Luckily, it's on YouTube for you all to see for yourselves:

The End of the World As We Know It (shorts program)--Several humorous shorts capped off by a miserably long ninja mess. My favorites included Russian Hill Roulette, Equal Opportunity, Pandamania, and The Chinese Connection, by hapa director Aram Siu Wai Collier. Aram's clever short follows a Chinese American girl's search for love online in suburban America. I spoke with Aram after the program and he has since moved from the bay area to Toronto to work for the Toronto Asian American film festival there.

The Year of the Fish--a magical fairy-tale using rotoscope animation (as used in the film Waking Life). This film looked great and was an interesting story with strong acting performances, but I was a little uncomfortable with some of the portrayals. Sure, every fairy tale needs the dark witch or evil stepmother, but did they have to put them into a NY Chinatown massage parlor setting? I’m sure their lives are hard enough as it is without having to be portrayed as heartless dragon ladies.

Finally, I was able to attend the closing night gala, since I volunteered in the early evening. I didn’t get a chance to catch the closing night film, Dark Matter, which I’m sure got extra attention since it stars Meryl Streep. I did hear that the film was very good, but the ending threw people for a loop. I guess you’ll have to see it to find out! The gala was a fun time and also revealed the winners of the audience, narrative, and documentary awards. Hapa filmmaker Eric Byler was one of the winners for his film Tre.

In his acceptance speech, he called for more political action from the Asian American community--that buying a movie ticket is an important act, but not as important as voting.

That’s it for me! Until next year...

And that's it for our coverage. Thanks to Yasmine and Elli for filing these reports--you guys are hapatastic.

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