8 Asians

8A-2013-01-31-BulletToTheHead-OneSheetThe new action thriller Bullet to the Head is coming out this weekend and it co-stars Korean American actor Sung Kang, who Dino-Ray interviewed last March regarding Sunset Stories.

Directed by Walter Hill, the film stars Sylvester Stallone as Jimmy Bobo, a career hitman who enters into an unlikely alliance with by-the-book detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) to bring down the ruthless killer of their respective partners. The film also stars Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christian Slater, Jon Seda, Weronika Rosati, and Jason Momoa. The film opens nationwide February 1.

Sung Kang has been one of the highest profile Asian American actors in Hollywood, having recently co-starred with Vin Diesel in the blockbuster hit Fast Five, directed by Justin Lin. He and Lin first worked together on the critically acclaimed drama Better Luck Tomorrow, which premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, garnering a Grand Jury Prize nomination. Kang subsequently worked with Lin on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, and Finishing the Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee. They are reunited on the upcoming The Fast and the Furious 6, slated for release in May 2013.

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In addition, Kang was featured in Ninja Assassin, War, and Live Free or Die Hard. Kang also starred in the Michael Kang-directed independent films 4 Wedding Planners and The Motel, the latter of which was an Official Selection at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

His television credits include guest starring roles on such series as Monk, Cold Case, Threat Matrix, Without a Trace, The Shield, NYPD Blue, and more.

Originally from Gainesville, Georgia, Kang began acting at the Los Angeles-based experimental theater group F.A.T.E. (Friends Artist Theater Ensemble).

About the Film:
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8Questions with Stanley Yung, Filmmaker

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IMG_4574(1)Writer, producer, and director Stanley Yung wrote for PBS’s Puzzle Place and produced Quentin Lee’s White Frog, Ethan Mao, and People I Slept With. He graduated from UCLA’s Film School, and his most recent work is on a feature film CHINK, the first ever about an Asian American serial killer.

In this 8Questions session with Yung, what I found particularly striking was his discussion of how the serial killer main character, Eddy Tsai, feel so marginalized that violence comes up as the only way for him to feel empowered.

Get to know Yung and his thoughts on life, dreams, and racial discrimination:

What made you decide to pursue your current career?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been inspired by the art of storytelling, and the cinematic medium was especially powerful for me. I grew up writing short stories, but it wasn’t until high school that I seriously considered becoming a filmmaker as a profession and started making my own little home movies. In many ways, it’s a career that chose me, because I can’t imagine myself doing anything else, and at this point in my life, I’m not really qualified to do much else. It’s been a tough grind over the years with more downs than ups to be honest, but getting the chance to direct CHINK has been a great reminder of why I became a filmmaker in the first place.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

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8A-2013-01-29-BusanWestFueled by the rapidly expanding influence and popularity of Korean filmmakers in Hollywood, Busan West, the annual pan-Asian film festival staged by Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in partnership with South Korea’s Busan International Film Festival (Asia’s largest film festival), is expanding its program and introducing a competition for the 2013 festival, set to take place March 8-10 on the Chapman campus in Orange, Calif.

Busan West presents a unique filmmaker showcase that brings select notable Asian films and filmmakers to the U.S. to create a new and unique platform for heightened recognition outside of Asia. New to the festival this year is a competition for short films — ‘Best Narrative Short’ and ‘Best Documentary Short’ Competition winners will be announced and awards presented at the festival’s Closing Night reception, March 10. The two winning short films will be programmed at the 2013 Busan International Film Festival in October. Contest details are available by emailing [email protected]

Utah Honors Topaz Internee, Fred Korematsu

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I first learned more and blogged about Japanese American internment camp detainee and civil rights icon Fred Korematsu when the State of California first had declared that January 30th would be known as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. Well now, the state of Utah (where Koremtsu was detained at the Topaz internment camp in central Utah) will recognize this January 30th as as Fred Korematsu Day:

Fred_Korematsu“Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will sign a proclamation designating this Jan. 30 as Fred Korematsu Day on Friday at 1:15 p.m. The ceremony will be held in the State Capitol’s Gold Room, which is on the second floor near the governor’s office. Korematsu would have been 94 on Jan. 30; he died eight years ago this spring. … Korematsu was arrested for resisting the military order in spring 1942. A welder born in Oakland [California], he was just 23 when he was convicted and sent to the Tanforan assembly center in California and then on to Topaz in the desert northwest of Delta. … He lived in Topaz from late September 1942 until Feb. 4, 1944, but apparently had a temporary permit to work in Salt Lake City and moved there for several months after leaving the camp. … The California Assembly in 2010 voted to celebrate Fred Korematsu Day every Jan. 30. Hawaii and Utah are celebrating the day this year as a one-time event.”

As noted in my previous blog post, in 1983 Korematsu’s conviction was reversed and his victory help lead the way for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, through which each survivor of the camps received $20,000 from the government as part of the U.S. government’s official apology for an injustice done upon its own citizens.

KCET recently reported that a trend of reversed immigration is undergoing in southern California. Many Americans are going overseas to find employment and pursue careers. In the video, it says about 3-6 million Americans are working overseas and a third of them are Asian Americans. The two examples they showed are both Asian Americans going back to the countries their parents emigrated from, and their careers are doing pretty well there.

I agree that Asia is a growing market, and this American economy, despite of the recovering myth that the media and the government told, is still pretty bad. Many second-generation Asian Americans have an understanding of the culture and language to the country they claim their ethnicity to, thanks to their Asian parents, so it does give them more leverage in finding good jobs in Asia. Plus, the background of being American and a native English speaker will certainly bring them more worship and admiration in Asia, which is still trying to copy the American model.

Back in China, I had a Chinese American friend who grew up in Los Angeles and went back to Beijing to teach English. My friend, an American who looks Chinese and speaks fluent Chinese, obviously have many more opportunities than a Chinese person who speaks fluent English or an American who only speaks English. He was higher paid, better treated, and more popular among students, especially Chinese female students.

On the other hand, my White American friend who also taught English in China, though popular, could never enjoy that level of intimacy and hospitality that my Chinese American friend received, because the Chinese American can welcome people with their native tongue, especially those who don’t speak good English.

The downside is, as the video points out, Asian Americans are still Americans. Even if you look the same as other Asians in Asia, they will hardly consider you are part of them. To them, you are still American. To you, you still experience culture shock. Growing up, you probably eat more burgers than rice. Though you call yourself Asian, to them and to you, you are not Chinese, or Korean or Japanese or Vietnamese.

If you can overcome the culture shock though, Asian money is certainly quite lucrative these days.

Actually, Andy’s not the only one to take advantage of outsourcing: “Suddenly the whole show is much more ‘Beijing’ than ‘Burbank.'” Yup, Conan’s been outsourced to Chinese actors, producers, and head writers. Here’s Chinese Conan, Chinese Andy, Chinese producer Jeff Ross, and Chinese head writer Mike Sweeney.

h/t: Diana of TeamCoco

The George Masa mentioned by President Obama in the above video (9:00) was originally born as Masahara Iisuka in Japan in 1882. After his father’s death, he came to the United States to study engineering at the University of California. Although he worked as an engineer in Colorado, he moved to Asheville, North Carolina, to wash laundry at Grove Park Inn. There he went on mountain tours with the Carolina Mountain Club and fell in love with the area. He became a celebrated photographer, now referred to as the Ansel Adams of the Southern Appalachians, and became BFF with renowned photographer and conservationist Horace Kephart. Masa and Kephart fought tirelessly to make The Great Smoky Mountains National Park a reality. There is a peak in the park named after him, Masa Knob.
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apf_podiumsign_031210Every year, the Asian Pacific Fund hosts an art and essay contest on Growing up Asian in America.  2013′s theme is “If I were President”.  San Francisco Bay Area students from Kindergarten through the 12th grade can submit essays, poems, or artwork concerning this theme and are eligible for $20,000 in prizes.  New this year is a video contest for 9th through 12th graders. 

Winning submissions will be displayed at special exhibits hosted at libraries, museums, and city halls in the Bay Area.  The entry form and other information for the 2013 contest is here.  Deadline for submissions is March 1, 2013, and winners will be notified by the end of April.

Strange Serendipities in Ceylon (Part 2)

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[In 2009, the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka between the terrorist LTTE or Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan Government finally ended, but left behind a legacy of war that endures, further complicated by global climate change. In 2012, Johnny C traveled there to cover the forces of war, globalization, and climate change. Some names and organizations have been changed to protect the identities of those who participated in the events of this series.]

I entered Velupillial Prabhakara, the LTTE leader’s home converted into a museum for civilians to see the lavish environment he lived in while children were kidnapped and forced to serve in his armed forces. My attempts at gonzo material to write truthfully about everything I saw and did were dashed against the rocks in the first five minutes: I thought it would be Hunter S. Thompson-esque to piss in his still-functioning toilet in his home and not flush, to show just what I thought of the son of a bitch, only to find a few golden nuggets that revealed others felt the same way about him too. I slammed the lid shut and instead decided I’d look at juxtaposition of expensive toys for his children in the same space as the weapons his men were armed with, from mines, guns, knives, and other explosives to be prepared in case the Government came. It was toys for both the little men and the big boys in the same room.

I descended further without incident into his bunker below his home and as the few other aid workers and tourists stayed outside to take pictures of the front of his home, I walked into his office and imagined what it must feel like to sit in a space no larger than a hostel room was, at his desk, and make decisions that led to the deaths and displacement of thousands of civilians, created orphans and widows, and took away jobs, and blew up a water tower to deprive everyone of clean drinking water to spite the army.

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8A-2013-01-29-KevinTsujiharaIn a move that surprised many Hollywood insiders, Kevin Tsujihara was been named successor to Barry Meyer as CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment. He will step into the job March 1, and Meyer will remain as chairman through 2013. Tsujihara was considered a dark horse candidate, after the heads of the television and film groups (Bruce Rosenblum and Jeff Robinov, respectively). (I couldn’t even find a Wikipedia entry for him!)

A long time WB executive, Tsujihara has been President of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group since its inception in 2005. Tsujihara currently oversees the Studio’s home video, digital distribution, videogames, anti-piracy, and emerging technology operations.

Here’s the full press release:

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Film Review: In Another Country

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In Another Country (2012); English and Korean with English subtitles.
Isabelle Huppert, Yoo Jun-sang, Kwon Hae-hyo, Moon So-ri, and Jung Yoo-mi. Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo.

In Another CountryA French woman who speaks no Korean. A young woman who manages a bed-and-breakfast. A married couple expecting a first child. A muscular but air-headed lifeguard. A coastal Korean town, some soju, a lighthouse, and the line, “You have to be careful with that kind of Korean man.” These are the ingredients, presented three times, in three separate stories of Hong Sang-soo’s first English-language film, In Another Country, a fun, mostly light-hearted actors’ exploration of setting, character, and language.

Isabelle Huppert stars as three different women named Anne: first a famous French film director, then a woman seeking time with a man who is not her husband, and finally a divorcee whose husband has left her for a young Korean secretary. In each story, set in the same town with roughly the same supporting actors, the French visitor has a different reason for visiting, and the surrounding characters provide different responses to her presence. Not exactly a character study, the film feels more like the result of an improvisation workshop where actors are given a rough skeleton of a plot and multiple chances to play it out, turning the best stuff into a movie script.

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8A-2013-01-28-JasonCommissoThere has been a series of violent muggings in East Harlem that appeared to target Asian Americans, and the suspect is named as Jason Commisso.

In all the incidents the suspect followed the victims into their elevators, violently attacked them, and robbed them of their phones, purses or wallets. Commisso was caught using a credit card from one of the victims approximately 40 minutes after the attack.

The list of assaults:
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