Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Photos: Jennifer Phang, Jeanne Sakata, Freya Adams and More at Advantageous in NY

Director Jennifer Phang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Director Jennifer Phang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Jennifer Phang’s critically lauded sci-fi film Advantageous, winner of a Sundance Film Festival Jury Award for Collaborative Vision, is currently enjoying a limited one-week theatrical release through July 2 in New York at Cinema Village, 12 E 12th Street, and in San Francisco at the Roxie Theatre, 3117 16th St.  Jacinto Romero, castmembers Daniel Abse, Jeanne Sakata and Freya Adams, The Verge's Emily Yoshida, director Jennifer Phang and Producer Robert Chang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Jacinto Romero, castmembers Daniel Abse, Jeanne Sakata and Freya Adams, The Verge’s Emily Yoshida, director Jennifer Phang and Producer Robert Chang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast features Jacqueline Kim, Samantha Kim, Ken Jeong, James Urbaniak, Jennifer Ehle, Freya Adams, Jennifer Ikeda, Olivia Horton, Sameerah Luqmann-Harris, Rex Lee, Troi Zee, Theresa Navarro, Mercedes Griffeth, Jeanne Sakata and Matthew Kim.

Lia Chang with cast members Jeanne Sakata, Freya Adams and Director Jennifer Phang at the opening night screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015.

Lia Chang with cast members Jeanne Sakata, Freya Adams and Director Jennifer Phang at the opening night screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015.

I attended the opening night screening in New York with my friend cast member Jeanne Sakata, at which The Verge‘s Emily Yoshida facilitated a Q&A with Ms. Phang.

The Verge's Emily Yoshida, director Jennifer Phang and team Advantageous at the opening night screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

The Verge’s Emily Yoshida, director Jennifer Phang and team Advantageous at the opening night screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

What the critics are saying about Advantageous:

The past looks a lot like the present in Advantageous, a science-fiction fantasy in a deliberately subtle key. Manohla Dargis New York Times

As in a lot of good sci-fi, the movie is set in a particular world, but driven by the characters that inhabit it. Jesse Hassenger· A.V. Club

Advantageous presents an offbeat, intimate dystopian vision that is strongly intriguing for a while. Dennis Harvey·Variety

‘Advantageous’ is set in an almost unrecognizable New York, where unemployment and violence have amplified. Jordan Hoffman·New York Daily News

Director Jennifer Phang and producer Robert Chang at the opening night screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Director Jennifer Phang and producer Robert Chang at the opening night screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

wired.com: ADVANTAGEOUS: A DYSTOPIAN FILM THAT’S PACKED WITH HOPE
businessinsider.com: The best sci-fi movie of the year is here — and it’s not Mad Max
avclub.com: Advantageous finds eerie plausibility in science fiction
mercurynews.com: On screen: Oakland’s Jennifer Phang scores with award-winning ‘Advantageous’
salon.com: Gather around, screwed millennials: You must see this
america.aljazeera.com: The dark future of ‘Advantageous’
io9.com: Advantageous Is An Insanely Good Movie That Everyone Should Watch

Team Advantageous at the opening night screening of of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Team Advantageous at the opening night screening of of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

On Sunday, June 28, Center for Asian American Media (CAAMFest) is co-presenting a special event with Advantageous Director Jennifer Phang featuring an extended Q&A moderated by Jordan Crucchiola of WIRED, after the 9:00 pm screening. Jennifer Ikeda, Tyler Straub, Ricardo Marmolejo, Senior VFX Supervisor Catherine Tate, and other special guests will also be in attendance.

Director Jennifer Phang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Director Jennifer Phang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Crucchiola wrote this feature on the origins of Advantageous, the inspirations, and Timo Chen’s year long work, featuring some beautiful videos of the creation of the soundtrack. Click here for tickets.

Opening night screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Opening night screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Not in New York or San Francisco? Check out Advantageous, which debuted on Netflix and iTunes in 18 different languages, on June 23rd.

Jeanne Sakata, Daniel Abse, Director Jennifer Phang, Production Designer Dara Wishingrad at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Jeanne Sakata, Daniel Abse, Director Jennifer Phang, Production Designer Dara Wishingrad at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Director Jennifer Phang has developed a dual affinity for science fiction and wry commentary as her storytelling stock-in-trade. Her latest effort, Advantageous (an expansive revisit of her 2003 Festival Golden Reel Award-winning short subject) largely eschews the commentary for a incisively-observed story of a career woman, played by veteran actress Jacqueline Kim, who goes to great lengths to insure a future for her only child. Originally commissioned in 2012 as part of the groundbreaking Independent Television Service series, “Future States,” Advantageous sparingly lays on the sci-fi while amping up the interpersonal tension and drama. The result is more French New Wave (Chris Marker’s classic LA JETEE comes to mind) than anything else, and demonstrates Phang’s increasing mastery of the sci-fi storytelling form — even more impressively than in her well-lauded HALF-LIFE (2008).

Working from a script co-penned with actress Kim, the story of Advantageous hews close to the original source: in a dystopian society that favors appearances over experience, Gwen (Kim), the company spokesperson for a radical technology allowing people to overcome their natural disadvantages and begin life anew, finds herself out of a job due to the inevitable march of time. With the future of her only child Jules (Samantha Kim) in crisis, Gwen ponders undergoing the procedure herself. In revisiting the story, Phang and Kim open up Gwen and Jules’ world outside of the apartment that served as the anchor for the previous short film. Now, the audience sees the human cost of Gwen’s heretofore “perfect” life. A compromised partnership with her former boss Fisher (James Urbaniak) threatens any means of her returning to work; while a past discretion with her sister’s husband (an almost unrecognizable, dramatic turn for comic actor Ken Jeong) foregrounds her estrangement from her own family. In this world, Advantageous riffs on the destructive contrast between soaring opulence vs. economic hardship, and the compromises that people like Gwen are willing to go through for that better situation.

source: Abraham Ferrer

The cast and creative team of Jennifer Phang's ADVANTAGEOUS at the Los Angeles premiere at the Aratani Theatre on August 24, 2015. Photo courtesy of Ed Moy/Facebook

The cast and creative team of Jennifer Phang’s ADVANTAGEOUS at the Los Angeles premiere at the Aratani Theatre on August 24, 2015. Photo courtesy of Ed Moy/Facebook

LAAPFF alumni Jennifer Phang received the Best Director for her film Advantageous, and the film scored prizes in 3 other categories including Best Music Score (Timo Chen), Best Editing (Sean Gillane and Jennifer Phang), and the special inaugural Linda Mabalot Renaissance Award for actress/writer Jacqueline Kim for her work as the lead actress and co-writer of Advantageous. This award recognizes a multi talented artist who exemplifies the spirit and fierceness of the late executive director of the LAAPFF and Visual Communications, Linda Mabalot.  Mabalot died in 2003 just after the festival ended.

THE TEAM FROM ADVANTAGEOUS, WINNER OF MULTIPLE AWARDS AT THE 2015 LAAPFF, CELEBRATES ON CLOSING NIGHT AT THE DGA. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: ACTRESS JACQUELINE KIM; DIRECTOR JENNIFER PHANG; COMPOSER TIMO CHEN. (PHOTO: STEVEN LAM)

THE TEAM FROM ADVANTAGEOUS, WINNER OF MULTIPLE AWARDS AT THE 2015 LAAPFF, CELEBRATES ON CLOSING NIGHT AT THE DGA. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: ACTRESS JACQUELINE KIM; DIRECTOR JENNIFER PHANG; COMPOSER TIMO CHEN. (PHOTO: STEVEN LAM)

Director Jennifer Phang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Director Jennifer Phang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Filmmaker Bio

Jennifer Phang’s sophomore feature Advantageous won the US Dramatic Competition Special Jury Prize in Collaborative Vision at Sundance 2015.  Her award-winning debut feature Half-Life premiered in 2008 at the Tokyo International and Sundance film festivals. It screened at SXSW and was distributed by Sundance Channel. She was invited to Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab and was awarded a SFFS FilmHouse Residency and Sundance Institute Feature Film Grants in support of Advantageous. Phang was originally commissioned to create Advantageous as a short film for the ITVS Futurestates Program. Phang is one of three inaugural recipients of the San Francisco Film Society’s (SFFS) Women Filmmaker Fellowships. A Berkeley-born daughter of a Chinese-Malaysian father and Vietnamese mother, Phang graduated from the MFA directing program at the American Film Institute.

Jennifer Phang, Nikole Beckwith and Stewart Thorndike Receive SFFS Women Filmmaker Fellowships

Filmmakers J.P. Chan, Jennifer Phang and producer Robert Chang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Filmmakers J.P. Chan, Jennifer Phang and producer Robert Chang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Advantageous is produced by Robert Chang, Theresa Navarro, Moon Molson, Ken Jeong and Jacqueline Kim. With cinematography by Richard Wong, editing by Sean Gillane and Gena Bleir, production design by Dara Wishingrad and Aiyana Trotter, VFX animation by Catherine Tate, Ricardo Marmolej and Jean Elston, original score composed by Timo Chen.

Freya Adams, Jennifer Phang, Melanie Matthews and Robert Chang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Freya Adams, Jennifer Phang, Melanie Matthews and Robert Chang at a screening of Advantageous at Cinema Village in New York on June 26, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

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Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

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Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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