As I sit here on the eve of the Showcase, nervously and anxiously anticipating what this year's festival brings. With so much uncertainty in the air, not just politically but with arts funding, cultural and social services being cut, I feel privileged to still be able to be part of our community. Most of you do not know, but we (The Foundation for Asian American Independent Media / Asian American Showcase) work on a volunteer basis with no sponsorship, federal or state funding. We are comprised of less than a handful of people and work on passion, love and the belief in what we are doing is good for our community, and year after year we strive to find you the best films that Asian America has to offer. We have the utmost gratitude and respect for our partner The Gene Siskel Film Center (and all of the staff) to help us make our dream a reality.
Some Notes on the films:
The Tiger Hunter (Lena Khan) Starring Danny Pudi who some might know as Abed from the TV series Community, but most of you will know him from Chicago’s Asian American sketch comedy group - Stir Friday Night. This wacky comedy satirizes an ambitious immigrant’s plight while delivering a winning message about remaining true to your roots.
Motherland (Ramona S. Diaz) Premiered at Sundance this year and is directed by the awarding winning filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz whose other films include Imelda and Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey. The world’s busiest maternity hospital in Manila is the setting for this warm, immersive documentary providing a touching, enlightening, humorous and shocking portrait of motherhood stripped down to its most human essentials.
Resistance At Tule Lake (Konrad Aderer) reminds us of our US history and about our civil liberties and beliefs. Americans of Japanese ancestry, while interned, were forced answer a questionnaire which branded them disloyal to the US government.
Wexford Plaza (Joyce Wong) Winner of the CAAMFEST Comcast Narrative Film Award is possibly my favorite film of this year. Who doesn’t love a quirky and offbeat comedy that’s also witty and moving, just like it’s first time feature director Joyce Wong.
Light (Lenora Lee, Tatsu Aoki) I can’t say how excited I am to be able to bring this special presentation to you. In addition to the film itself about the life of Bessie M. Lee who came to NYC as an indentured servant, but was also responsible for New York’s Chinatown community, we’ll have a live performance of music and dance brought to you by Lenora Lee, Tatsu Aoki and friends. I can not tell you how important Tatsu has been to our community - not just as a musician, or filmmaker, but also an educator and a leader.
Finding Kukan (Robin Lung) A documentary about a documentary? It’s so much more as in telling the story of Li Ling-Ai and her extraordinary determination in making the 1941 Academy Award-winning documentary Kukan, but also Lung examines this important film and places its producer in her rightful place - a place that was denied to Li Ling-Ai at the time of Kukan’s release. Both this story and this film have much to tell us about gender, race, power, and the way that our society worked then and works now.
Gook (Justin Chon) An Audience Award winner at Sundance and CAAMFEST, Many of you might know director Justin Chon from acting in the Twilight Saga, or even last year’s showcase favorite Seoul Searching, but as the writer / director of Gook he offers a bold, honest, and compelling story, that’s also a nostalgia trip of the 1990’s. Nuanced and complex, this film is shockingly present and relevant today, 25 years after Rodney King.
Last but not least, please check out our art exhibit “Fierce Tidings: On Rage and Hope” presents work by contemporary Asian American and Asian Diasporic artists, drawing from their personal experiences of events relating to injustice and trauma. We’ll also have an artist pop-up shop where you can purchase other work from the artist involved.
We have an amazing selection of films this year, pass the word around and we hope to see you soon, and bring a friend or two!
If you can’t make it you can still support us by either buying a ticket or two online, then letting us know and we’ll donate it to one of our community groups or by making a donation thru our Paypal account.
A big shout out to Jonathan Laxamana, Huu Ly, Larry Lee and Lydia Fu, and the GENE SISKEL FILM CENTER without any of them, this would not have been possible!
Foundation for Asian American Independent Media