Film Review by Desmond Lee -“Two Wongs Make A White”

Two Wongs Make a White is a comedic short film by Jolene Kim. It showcases the differences between a stereotypical asian family and an asian family with an adopted child. As an asian american, this short film perfectly portrays some of the typical asian stereotypes. I also love how the both families reacts to the adopted child’s actions and how the child’s actions affect the two families’ dinner. So, overall I loved the content of the film.  Although this film was short and cute, I felt that the cinematography was poor. Some shots and transitions could have been executed better,it is especially noticeable when the camera is shaking. However, I did enjoy some of the edits like the zoom in to exaggerate each character’s emotion. This film is definitely another one that should not be missed out on!

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Film Reviews by Aviva Nachman-“Nước” and “My Immigrant Story”

Nước: Within the first few seconds of Nước, director and writer Quyên Nguyen-Le manages to envelop the audience in a warm and protective, bordering defensive, embrace. The main character is an unnamed queer Vietnamese-American teen who is struggling to reconcile the perspective of her mother, who is a refugee of the Vietnam War, and the perspective of a character who seems to be the teen’s lover. Through a series of scenes which take place in a darkroom, the main character develops photographs depicting images such as a protest, a desert and the inside of a womb. The teen and her lover exchange few words, letting the tension mount as they discuss the Vietnam War. The teen’s relationship with her mother is one of respect and acceptance. After the argument in the darkroom, the mother invites the teen’s lover over for a traditional Vietnamese meal and that provokes the teen to ask more questions of her mom and to become more open with her. Nước’s message is one of acceptance, warmth and understanding and will leave viewers feeling transported and protected.

My Immigrant Story: My Immigrant Story is narrated by director Yuriko Gamo Romer and exclusively uses home video footage shot by her father. Romer’s father was a research scientist who, one year after the Russians launched Sputnik, was recruited to move to America with his family to help the country gain momentum in the Space Race. This job took Romer’s family all across the country where they visited observatories, universities, monuments and national landmarks. She grew up surrounded by travel, science and a loving family and through the home video footage, the audience feels the same sense of wonder, fascination and inspiration that the director felt in the videos. Romer explains that the “science gene skipped a generation” as shots of her drawing and taking photographs as a child cross the screen. She goes on to state that her son is now studying science and is “aiming for the stars” just like her father had. After watching this, I was blown away that in a mere three minutes I was able to feel inspired to travel, create and learn and felt as though I had just spent summers with Romer’s family traveling the country along with them.

Nước and My Immigrant Story will be played at Cinemapolis from our 4:30-6 pm on Saturday, October 13th.

 

Film Review by Jake Catalanotto: “Golden Boat”

Golden Boat is an experimental short narrative film directed by Kristin Li & Clayton Beugeling in which a group of diverse travelers are stuck in an isolated shack surrounded by a harsh desert, waiting to continue their nondescript travels. Some characters, such as the protagonist, view this purgatorial state as suffocating and unbearable, while others are content with the quiet.

The film creators do a fantastic job of creating a liminal space with the set and disjunctive sound design. We as the audience are easily able to buy into the somewhat fantastical scenario because of the attention to detail present in the sets and the effective world building ingrained in the aesthetics. The warehouse is filled with items wrought with use, stained, aged. There is a sense of stagnation as nothing present in the frame looks as if it was made after the 1980’s. Combine that with the muted color pallet and the ever-present layer of sand plaguing every surface, and what we are left with is a heavy and oppressive atmosphere. Kristin Li & Clayton Beugeling have created a setting that feels like a character in and of itself.

One of the strongest aspects of this film is the outstanding cinematography. The frustration of the main character is felt by the audience with the lethargic pacing and static camera. Shots are expertly composed with depth and texture that lets the eye wander throughout the long shots. The film stock used produces a soft image that compliments the deep colors present in the frame.

In the end, the film asks more questions than it answers, providing a surreal and thought-provoking experience. It’s non-traditional narrative structure acts as an amazing mechanic for exploring the themes of faith, uncertainty, and liminality. In my opinion, it is a must see for audiences at the Ithaca Pan Asian American Film.

 Golden Boat will be shown at around 5:30 at Cinemapolis on Friday October 12th. 

Film Review by Katelyn Monaco: “Blue – Tales from Suburbia”

Blue – Tales from Suburbia documents the disappearance of a local teen and how it affects an Asian American family from the suburbs. Vivian Lau, the filmmaker, is studying Cinematography and Film Production at Emerson College and has won numerous awards for her work internationally. She states: “It is my goal to bring stories to life that impact the community. My reward system comes from seeing a story and a collective vision into fruition.” Although this film is short, it poignantly displays the emotional toll that the disappearance has on Blue, the young protagonist. There is a beautiful and haunting symmetry in the way it starts and ends. In the beginning Lau showcases the domestic life of the family and by the end as the family is still going through the motions there is an undeniable change. Blue’s innocence and optimism is never going to return, yet the viewer is left with a deep hope that she will survive and recover from this trauma. The cinematography is crisp and moving, the soundtrack fitting, and I assure you that this film will leave you with goosebumps.

Blue – Tales from Suburbia will be showing at around 4:30 on Saturday October 13th at Cinemapolis.

What is Asian American film?

Here are some responses from our staff:

Author: Tommy Gonzalez, Film Selection & Technical Operations Committee
I would define Asian American film as a category of cinema that can deal with Asian American themes, specifically with diasporic groups, relations between America and Asian countries or other issues related to the Asian American experience. Asian American film is also cinema created by filmmakers that have lived the Asian American experience. It is an unexpected vantage point to analyze film because it deals not with aesthetics or necessarily the time period in which the film was created, but rather with the heritage and culture the work is entered into. Asian American cinema, while a category, is as diverse as cinema itself in all other aspects. It is a category of cinema defined by its giving a voice to group in society that is not often given the attention of mainstream American culture. However, its value and contributions to cinema as a whole have been substantial nonetheless.

Author: Desmond Lee, Outreach & Special Programs Committee
I would define Asian American film as a film genre that expresses common themes seen in Asian American culture or Asian culture. For example, a common theme is the concept of parents sacrificing a lot for their children to succeed in life, such as migrating from one country to another. From this theme, an Asian American film can also showcase the conflict they go through as a minority.

Lastly, I feel an Asian American film does have to be made by Asian American to be considered an Asian American film. In films made by Asian Americans, the Asian American themes will resonate more strongly. But, the whole cast and crew does not in fact have to be Asian American. One could try to make an Asian American film without an Asian American cast and crew but I feel the Asian American themes will not be present.

Author: Katelyn Monaco, Marketing & Publicity Committee
Asian American films are created by, written by, directed by, or star Asian Americans with the aim to tell authentic stories. The same principles about what constitutes Black theater applies to what constitutes Asian American films. They need to be “about us… by us… for us… and near us” (Xing 33). I also agree with the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) criteria that any movie created by an Asian American constitutes as an Asian American film regardless of its “length, genre, or subject matter” (Xing 33). You cannot separate a creator from their background or the historical context in which they create their work.

Xing, Jun. Asian America Through the Lens. Altamira Press, 1998.

Author: Suzanne Tang, Film Selection & Technical Operations Committee
Asian American film is film that tells the Asian American story and/or gives Asian Americans a voice whether it’s on-screen or off-screen. It doesn’t necessarily have to star an all Asian or Asian-American cast and/or crew, but it needs to contribute to the Asian-American community in a progressive way. Having Asian-Americans on and off screen means their voices and talents are being acknowledged and can, therefore, help move away from the stereotypes Asians have typically been boxed in. The issue is that Asians haven’t gotten the privileges and representation in film necessary to explore film beyond just telling the Asian-American story. There are a lot of documentaries by filmmakers and it is the genre most Asian-Americans go towards because it’s typically used to tell the stories not told or represented accurately. And though that is great, it is also important to reach the point in which Asian-American filmmakers can tell creative stories that don’t necessarily play off of stereotypes or the dissection of. A common misconception of Asian-American film is that it needs to be about Asian-Americans or by Asian-Americans. But it is really about representation. Because of the lack thereof, we need the categorization and outlets to gain such representation. The point in film that we should reach is to have Asians play roles that are specifically made for just Asian – they should be considered for the roles regardless of race and to have filmmakers make any film even if it doesn’t necessarily have to do with Asian-American culture.

IPAAFF Part 2 Schedule Update!

Here is the schedule for IPAAFF 2018 Part 2. We hope to see you at Cinemapolis next Friday!

Friday, October 12, Cinemapolis

5:30pm-7:30pm
Gaysians by Vicky Du (runtime 12:00)
Taiwan! Let’s Get Married! by Larry Tung (runtime 20:00)
Hell Bent by Vivian Lau (runtime 13:00)
-Intermission-
Filipina by Maribel Apuya (runtime 15:00)
Golden Boat
by Kristin Li (runtime 13:00)
Continuum
by Rogue Shore (runtime 20:00)

Saturday, October 13

2:00-3:00pm
My Immigrant Story
by Yuriko Gamo Romer (runtime 3:00)
GAPS by Peter Trinh (runtime 12:30)

Not in the Mood for Love by Qiyue Sun (runtime 9:00)

Sever by Christina Jun (runtime 6:00)

By Your Side by Marisa Brown (runtime 15:00)
Ho
ài (Ongoing/Memory) by Quyen Nguyen Le (runtime 11:00)

3:00-4:30pm
-Winning Films and Discussion-
Screening of IPAAFF 2018 award winners, with commentary and discussion.

4:30pm-6:00pm

JIN (A Korean in America) by Jinsuk Kim (runtime 30:00)
Good Girls Don’t by Ana de Lara (runtime 15:00)
Two Wongs Make a White by Jolene Kim (runtime 3:00)
Good People by Grayson Goga (runtime 11:00)
Blue – Tales from Suburbia by Vivian Lau (runtime 10:00)
Nước (Water/Homeland) by Quyen Nguyen Le (runtime 5:00)

6:00pm-8:00pm, Argos Warehosue Event Space

Join the IPAAFF 2018 crew at the Argos Warehouse Event Space (416 E State Street) for a re-screening of our special documentary short Gaysians with a talkback with director Vicky Du, followed by light refreshments and cultural performances. Please bring a program from the film festival to gain admittance.

Introducing one of our featured filmmakers!

VDu_Headshot

Meet our featured filmmaker!

Vicky Du is a Taiwanese-American filmmaker based in New York. Her short film GAYSIANS (2016) screened at 30+ film festivals including Outfest, Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, and Asian American International Film Festival. The film was distributed by Frameline, had a public TV broadcast on KQED, and was distributed to 1000+ middle and high school LGBTQ student groups. Vicky has directed and edited films for Art21, TEDx, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The North Face and more. She is a worker-owner of Meerkat Media, a film production cooperative, and a member of Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. Vicky is currently in production on her first feature documentary on Chinese diaspora and intergenerational trauma.

2018 Volunteers

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Meet the staff this year! We’re so excited for the festival and we’re working hard to make sure it’s a success. Catch us around campus advertising and getting ready for a great debut.

From Left to Right: Bradley Rappa, Aviva Nachman, Thomas Gonzalez, Katelyn Monaco, Suzanne Tang, Jake Catalanotto, Anika Verma, Desmond Lee, Christine Kitano, Nikkole Mora

Film Review by Kris DiNardi: “Abeoji: A Father’s Love”

*spoilers ahead*

Here is an inside look into this year’s Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival official selection.

Premiering on Saturday, April 22nd at Cinemapolis is Abeoji: A Father’s Love. 

Winner of Best Documentary at the Ithaca Student Film Festival, Abeoji follows a South Korean orphanage director and documents his role in the lives of the children he cares for. It’s a touching documentary that explores how love can affect young children for a lifetime.

The entire documentary was filmed and edited in Seoul, South Korea by award-winning filmmaker Gabriella LoBue. LoBue is currently a junior at Ithaca College majoring in Cinema and Photography and minoring in Business Administration.

In the summer of 2016, LoBue studied at Hanyang University, where the documentary was shot and edited in less than a month.

For LoBue, she said that she has a special personal connection to the documentary since she is a Chinese adoptee. LoBue said that this was the inspiration for the documentary, as it covers an issue that is so near and dear to her heart.

Abeoji: A Father’s Love will be showing at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 22nd at Cinemapolis.

Film Review by Anna Gardner: “Spa Night” and “Golden Golden”

*spoilers ahead*

The IPAAFF 2017 program is finalized and I am very excited to be sharing some of my favorite films with you. I was very interested in engaging with the identities that overlap with being Asian American. The identity that this screening engages with is being LBGT. What does it mean to have a sexuality or gender outside the normative culture in addition to being Asian American? These two films both explore this in beautiful ways.

Golden Golden was written and directed by Erica Cho, a visual artist and filmmaker. This short film looks into the lives of two 20-somethings from San Bernardino when they visit a Los Angeles fortuneteller. Conjoined crystal balls and queer, pop song visions open up new spaces for desiring and becoming – across Asian, Black, and Latinx imaginaries. This short was very entrancing for me and exuded love. This is a love story. Love can be both romantic and platonic, and Golden Golden explores these possibilities of love in the sweetest way. It purely shows the beauty of non-heteronormative relationships.

Youn Ho Cho (Jin), Haerry Kim (Soyoung) and Joe Seo (David) in Spa Night

Spa Night is the debut feature film of Andrew Ahn. Like many first-generation immigrants, David Cho serves as the intermediary between his parents’ insular Koreatown life in Los Angeles and the frenetic landscape of the wider city. When the family restaurant is forced to close, the balance of the household is threatened and tension mounts at home. In an unfamiliar twist on more familiar immigrant stories, David does not accept his parents’ dreams for him to pursue an education but instead decides to help his family make ends meet by secretly taking a job at a Korean spa. There, David finds himself suddenly exposed to the clash between traditional Korean culture and the underground world of gay hook-ups. Ahn’s visual imagery paired with heated passions makes for a captivating film. This is an unfiltered look into gay hook-up culture. Ahn aims to tell a personal story, a family story, by having the audience get right in the thick of it. This film is steamy, heartbreaking, and relatable. What desires do you harbor in fear of losing your normal life?

Haerry Kim (Soyoung) and Joe Seo (David) in Spa Night.

IPAAFF is thrilled to be hosting Andrew Ahn for a Q&A after the screening on Friday, April 21.