Day 3 of the 32nd Asian American International Film Festival at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas and the School of Visual Arts Theater was a marathon day for me.
Several series of Short Films, as well as a One-on-One with Claustrophobia director Ivy Ho, conducted by La Frances Hui, Senior Program Officer of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts at the Asia Society, were taking place at the new Museum of Chinese in America building downtown.
My first film of the day was Sarba Das’ Karma Calling, starring Darshan Jariwala, Sulekha Das, Gargi Mukherjee, Samrat Chakrabarti and Kavi Ladnier.
I met up with my friend actor Manu Narayan, who was the moderator for the Karma Calling Q & A after the screening.
In Karma Calling, the Raj family is not a household comprised of stereotypical Asian model minorities living the American Dream.
Outside the theater, I caught up with actress Cindy Cheung and her husband This is a Bust novelist Ed Lin.
Last night, Cheung was featured in the Festival’s Centerpiece presentation of Tze Chun’s Children of Invention as Elaine Cheng, a single immigrant mother of two. When the Cheng family’s home is foreclosed on, Elaine moves into a unit in an unfinished apartment building with her two young children. Looking for ways to make extra money, Elaine becomes involved in a pyramid scheme with dire consequences. The children are left to fend for themselves, and in her absence, they do the best they can. The movie has resonated at film festivals across the country.
I reconnected with Slanted Screen filmmaker Jeff Adachi, whose sophomore effort, a documentary about Jack Soo called You Don’t Know Jack, was truly inspiring.
I remember Jack Soo from his role as Detective Nick Yemana in the seminal television series Barney Miller, and as nightclub owner Sammy Fong from Flower Drum Song.
Adachi’s You Don’t Know Jack takes an intimate look at this Asian American pioneer’s path to success as a comedian, an actor, and as a singer whose recording of ‘For Once in My Life’ for the Motown Label preceded Stevie Wonder’s.Jack Soo was born as Goro Suzuki on October 28, 1917, and raised in Oakland, CA. He was six-feet-tall, dapper and the ultimate hipster. Because of his height, he was turned down for hundreds of parts, but he followed his dreams to be an actor and refused to play stereotypical roles. You Don’t Know Jack features rare photographs of Soo’s life and career and fond recollections by his daughter, fellow cast members, high-school friends, and fans. It is a revealing portrait of how comedy, community and ethnic identity shaped this one-of-a-kind artist.
I chatted with Jeff after the screening and will feature his interview at a later date.
After a bowl of Pho in Koreatown, I headed down to the afterparty at 310 Lounge in the East Village where the party was in full swing, and danced the night away.
AAIFF 09 Closing Night Awards and H.P. Mendoza’s Fruit Fly
AAIFF Karma Calling, You Don’t Know Jack and Children of Invention
Jeff Adachi’s You Don’t Know Jack and Tzi Chun’s Children of Invention Screen at AAIFF 09
Multimedia: AAIFF 09 Opening Night Screening of Claustrophobia
Schedule at a Glance: Asian American International Film Festival AAIFF 2009
BD Wong Stars in La Jolla Production of Herringbone 8/1-8/30
Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story Screens at Rhode Island International Film Festival on 8/8
Japan Cuts Festival of New Japanese Film
Asian American International Film Festival 09 runs 7/23-7/26
In Arthur Dong’s Hollywood Chinese, Chinese Tinseltown Tales told by Asian Silver Screen Icons
Wat Misaka, First Person of Color Drafted in NBA
Review: HBO’s China’s Unnatural Disaster the Tears of Sichuan Province
Mark Shaw, A Retrospective at Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe
Charmed by Audrey, Life on the Set of Sabrina Book Signing