CAAMFEST36: Opening Night Film & Gala Red Carpet Premiere of ‘An American Story: Norman Mineta’

One of the things I have really enjoyed after having moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1999 has been attending the San Francisco Asian American International Film Festival, which is now known as CAAMFest, now its 36th year.

This year’s opening night premiere was a documentary – AN AMERICAN STORY: NORMAN MINETA – about groundbreaking elected official and civil servant, Japanese American Norman Mineta – the first Asian American elected to San Jose, California City Council, first Asian American elected to be mayor of San Jose (first Asian American mayor of any major city in the continental United States), first Asian American Congressman elected in the continental United States, first Asian American to serve as a cabinet member to serve a President (AND also both in a Democratic and Republican administration). AND first Asian American to have an airport named after him (Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport).

Prior to the documentary’s premiere, Claudine Cheng and Willie Brown presented Norman Mineta with the APA Heritage Award for Lifetime Impact:

After watching the documentary, I realized that although I had kind of known about many of Mineta’s accomplishments, seeing his story told in its totality was amazing. (This slightly differed from my experience watching a documentary about Patsy Mink, another amazing Asian American, but someone I knew nothing about until a CAAMFEST screening). Mineta is a truly ground-and-glass-ceiling-breaking Asian American that all Americans should learn about.

The San Francisco Chronicle described the documentary and Mineta as:

“His life in politics, skillfully captured by director Dianne Fukami, stands in stark contrast to the current White House occupant. As a 10-term U.S. representative from Silicon Valley, Mineta kept his ego in check while passing seminal legislation, notably a bill granting reparations to Japanese Americans like his family who were incarcerated during World War II. His motto was “If you don’t care who gets the credit, you can do many things.””

After the screening, there was a Q&A session with Norman Mineta and the filmmakers:

There’s an effort to build upon documentary and develop educational material around Norman Mineta’s story, known as The Mineta Legacy Project. This reminds me of what Fred T. Korematsu Institute is doing since its inception. And after the Q&A, there was the annual gala party, held again at San Francisco Asian Art Museum, where I had the great honor to meet and get a photo with Mineta himself:

The gala is always a festive scene at a great venue:

8$: ‘Rice on White,’ Asian American Sex Comedy Feature Film

8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)

8a-2016-09-25-riceonwhiteWHO: The Rice on White Team

Talun Hsu (director/producer) – Talun is a veteran of independent films. Being a writer, director and producer, Talun knows all the tricks of the trade to make things happen.
Joe Ho & Brent Tonick (writers/producers/cast) – Joe & Brent are just like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck… but more attractive. They are lifelong friends who have been writing and acting together since they were teenagers.

Eddie Mui (associate producer) – Eddie was a working actor in his hometown of Seattle performing in various main stage shows before moving to LA to focus more on television and film.

Fiona Gubelmann (cast) – Fiona is a ferociously talented actress with a long list of credits to her name both in television and film.

Jun Kim (cast) – A multilingual and multi-ethnic former stock broker, Jun Kim was born and raised in Hong Kong.

Charles Kim (cast) – A native Angeleno, Charles Kim did not start acting for paying audiences until he moved to Washington State, where he caught “the acting bug” while attending law school.

Kathy Uyen (cast) – a Vietnamese American actress, producer, and screenwriter who is best known for her leading roles in Vietnamese cinema.

Brian Drolet (cast) – an actor/comedian/writer/producer, Brian also was a cast member of season one of MTV’s smash hit “The Hills” among his extensive list of acting credits.

Cast also includes: Trieu Tran (HBO’s “The Newsroom”, “Tropic Thunder”), Sekou Andrews (“The Sea of Dreams”), Haley Cummings (Adult Film Star), Caroline Macey (episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Medium” and other shows), John Fukuda (“John Wang’s Nebraska”, “Someone I Used to Know”), Kelli McNeil (episodes of “My Crazy Ex”, “CSI” and other shows), Lynn Chen (“Saving Face”, HBO’s “Silicon Valley”), Karin Anna Cheung (“Better Luck Tomorrow”, “The People I’ve Slept With”), Cathy Shim (Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!”, Fox’s “MADtv”)

Crew includes: Rebecca Hu (line producer) (“Pretty Rosebud”), Chadwick Struck (casting director) (“Outlaws and Angels”, “Mini’s First Time”), Chia-Yu Chen (cinematographer) (Ads for “Coca Cola” and “Hugo Boss”, among others), Jessica Lee (costume designer) (Crackle’s “Sequestered”), Ellen Ho (production coordinator) (“Ktown Cowboys”, “Dilated”), Linda Chi (makeup/hair), Daren Dien (production), Ryan Fung (production)

WHAT: Kickstarter project: Rice on White – Comedy Feature Film

Whether it’s Emma Stone being cast as a quarter-Chinese, quarter-Pacific Islander character or all-American Matt Damon protecting the Great Wall of China, “whitewashing” has been a hot topic lately. We, the filmmakers of Rice on White, are huge movie fans (and big fans of Stone and Damon btw) but we also would like to see a world where Asian-Americans are fairly represented in television and cinema.

Social media outrage and online petitions can be helpful – we’ve participated in our share of both – but we thought it more constructive to be the change we want to see. Rice on White is the result. This is a hilarious mainstream romantic comedy / guy comedy in the same vein as films such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up” and “American Pie” with something you don’t see every day: Asians leading the way instead of being cast as the sidekicks.

WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Thursday, September 29, 2016 (12:00 AM PDT).

WHY:

There aren’t many mainstream movies with Asian Americans in lead roles or even behind the camera. We hope to change that but in order to do so we need opportunities to convince Hollywood studios that Asian American films can be successful. At the end of the day though, this is a movie, not a political statement. We think we have a funny and entertaining movie starring Asian-Americans that could be a crossover hit popular with audiences from all backgrounds.

CAAMFest 2016: March 10 – 20, 2016 | San Francisco & Oakland

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One of the things I’ve enjoyed over the years while living in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1999 is the the annual Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Film Festival, better known as CAAMFest, “Celebrating Asian American Film, Music and Food.” This year’s festival is taking place this March 10 – 20, 2016 in San Francisco & Oakland.

I’ve seen terrific movies over the years, highlights which have included Bend It Like Beckham, LINSANITY and Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority in the past, and most recently as of last year, Seoul Searching. This year’s Opening Night presentation is the Bay Area premiere of TYRUS:

TYRUS is an inspirational documentary about the art, life, and enduring impact of 105 year-old pioneering Chinese American artist Tyrus Wong, best known for the conceptual artwork that gave Walt Disney’s Bambi its distinctive and unforgettable look.”

You can catch trailers of most of the films at CAAMFest here on YouTube

For more information about the festival http://caamfest.com/2016/

You can also check out the program guide here:

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Be sure to buy tickets in advance if you can, since a lot of the films are often sold out.

San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival Now CAAMFest – 3/14 – 3/24

When I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the first annual events I attended was the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF). Yes, that is quite a mouthful, so maybe that is why the San Francisco-based Center for Asian American Media – CAAM  (which used to be known by the archaic National Asian American Telecommunications Association) re-branded the traditionally February / March film festival as CAAMFest. CAAM also throws a terrific party to kickoff the film festival usually at the Asian Art Museum. CAAMFest runs from Thursday, March 14th to Sunday, March 24th.

I’m not sure when or what movie I first saw at the film festival, but I clearly remember seeing two fantastic films at the film festival in my early days of attending: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as well as Bend It Like Beckham in 2003, where director Gurinder Chadha had actually met her future husband at the film festival something like ten years prior. At the time, I had no idea who David Beckham was nor what it meant to “bend it like Beckham” (which is to kick and  ‘bend’ a soccer ball into the opponent’s goal). That was also my first memory of the lovely and talented actress Keira Knightley.

Another film I’ve seen at the film festival that I recall is the interesting documentary about Yao Ming’s first year in the NBA, Year of the Yao. And last year, I saw the terrific CAAM-supported documentary, Mr. Cao Goes To Washington.

This year’s showcase film kicking off the film festival will be LINSANITY, a documentary about NBA basketball player, Houston Rockets’ Jeremy Lin.

http://youtu.be/qcwL7NxclzY

LINSANITY premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, which Jeremy Lin attended during the later part of the Q&A session, where it has garnered a lot of glowing reviews. I can’t wait to see the documentary and a whole lot of other films. If you have any interest in independent films, definitely check out CAAMFest!

Nice Girls Crew Review From 2012 LAAPFF

UPDATE: Rich didn’t actually know Lynn or Parry before shooting this movie, they were introduced to him by his friend Dave Boyle, after seeing his film and feeling like they’d be great in the roles. The film was actually more than that the originally reported $10,000…it was 30,000. The $10,000 came from the kickstarter campaign, and the rest Rich financed on his own. Finally, Lynn did introduce Rich to Sheetal, but Kerry is an old friend from film school who works as an assistant director, and Rich thought he would be perfect for this role based on their real-life friendship.

This film, Nice Girls Crew was interesting to say in the most. For three normally dramatic actresses to tackle on such outrageous characters with such zeal, I will say that’s the greatest strength Nice Girls Crew has going for it. It was presented as a collection of the first 6 episodes which in itself was more of a sketch than anything substantial.

By the 3rd episode however, the premise wore extremely thin and it became a bit of a slightly amusing chore to watch three characters bicker with each other in different situations, different episodes. The writing was extremely thin so it was only because the three actresses made the absolute most out of the lines that the episodes were amusing to watch.

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Yes, We’re Open Review & Interview From LAAPFF 2012

First brownie point that needs to be given out immediately with Yes, We’re Open: with a largely Asian American cast as the leads, the story has nothing to do with their ethnicity nor any cultural awkward elements that are found quite often in films like these.

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2012 LAAPFF Opening & Shanghai Calling Review

Ah, the 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is here. It’s that one time of the year where a truck load of Asians and Asian Americans in the entertainment industry here in LA come to mingle amongst themselves for a showcase of films that they are either part of or come to watch in support of their fellow actors in the community. On opening nights especially, it would not be surprising to see well known faces like Daniel Dae Kim, Tamilyn Tomita, or a certain bum milling about named Edward Hong with his jeans and t-shirt bought from Target. For the next 10 days, I will be watching over 12 films in the next 10 days and for all of them, I will be giving a review for each and every one of them.

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Why are Asian American Films Bad?

Before I even wrote the April’s Fools article Joy Luck Ranked Greatest Asian American Film Of All Time, I have contemplated for the longest time creating a list for the Top 10 Worst Asian American films of all time. There’s always lists of the good Asian American films but no such thing as a bad one. The reasons for this is actually pretty obvious:

One, the mainstream hardly knows any Asian American films. Two, most Asian Americans don’t even watch these APA films. And if one does know these films, he or she is probably in connection to the said actors and film makers who made the films and in this small Asian American film community, it is not recommended to piss off your fellow Asian peers even if you want to point out a valid criticism. Trust me, our community can be incredibly touchy when it comes to anything but praise for our fellow countryman’s works.

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Joy Luck Club Ranked Greatest Asian American Film Of All Time

On March 31st after a conference on ranking the top 15 Asian American films, entertainment industry folks have declared that Wayne Wang’s Joy Luck Club, based on Amy Tan’s masterpiece novel, is the greatest Asian American film of all time (Breakfast at Tiffany’s came in second place). Surprisingly, most of the positive votes came from Asian American industry folks themselves, unbeknownst to the enraged APA community as a whole.

When asked why this controversial film deserved such high merit, one Asian American executive producer (whose name wish to remain anonymous) remarked:

Joy Luck Club is an extremely accurate portrayal of Asian America. All of Asian America, including the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and maybe the Filipinos. Because after all, we are one homogenous group sharing one homogenous experience and thus it is well portrayed in Joy Luck Club. Plus, we know that all Asian men are terrible to their women and thus it is a God-given truth that white men are just better companions. As an Asian man, I can speak for all Asian men. Finally, most Asian American films are poorly shot, edited, written, and directed so Joy Luck Club automatically gets a bonus point for accomplishing these simple criteria measures.

More after the jump!

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Mnet America’s Short Notice Asian American Short Film Program Open For Submissions

Short Notice, Mnet America’s short film program is out there for Asian Americans. If you win it, you get to win $5,000. Say what?

Are you an Asian American film maker with a compelling short film that you want to show? Do you have an astounding short film that features an Asian American as the lead? Do you have any film that has elements/themes of Asian culture, or that takes place in Asia? If you do, there’s a chance for you to win $5,000 for the Grand Jury Prize in the 3rd annual Short Notice competition.

Short Notice is an hour-long television program on Mnet; featuring today’s hottest Asian American filmmakers and their short films while providing sneak peeks into the creative process. Short Notice is the first Asian-American short film show, in addition to now being the first ever TV program to do an awards format with short films. Short Notice is currently featured in 80% of all Asian American households across the U.S.

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