DÌDI (弟弟) Official Trailer Released

Izaac Wang stars as “Chris” in writer/director Sean Wang’s DÌDI, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features / Talking Fish Pictures, LLC. © 2024 All Rights Reserved.

It seemed funny that we talked about Sean Wang and his movie DÌDI (弟弟) but we never included a trailer.  We can remedy that as the official trailer from Focus Features has just come out.  Like the main character in the movie, I too grew up in Fremont, liked to skateboard, and had friends who liked to do stupid things with firecrackers.  I am really looking forward to seeing this.

DÌDI (弟弟) will be released only in theaters on Friday, July 26.

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SF Film Festival Talk: Filmmaking Bay Area and “Dìdi (弟弟)” – with Sean Wang

One of the things I love about film festivals is that you can learn more about the film or filmmaker, usually during a post-screening Q&A. With the SF Film Festival, they also had talks with the filmmaker separate from the screenings. So I was ecstatic to see that the festival had a talk for Sean Wang:

 

“Join us for an exclusive discussion with local filmmaker Sean Wang, as he reminisces about his experiences making films in the Bay Area. From his acclaimed short films, including H.A.G.S. (Doc Stories, 2022) and Oscar®-nominated Nai Nai & Wài Pó (Festival, 2023), to his feature debut Dìdi (弟弟), Sean has forged a path of making deeply personal art in collaboration with local creatives. His own experiences living in the Bay Area are frequently reflected on screen, pulling audiences into deeply intimate journeys set against the backdrop of the place we call home. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear Sean discuss his approach to filmmaking, how the Bay Area community helped shape his stories, and the local resources that strengthened his films.

Among Fremont native Sean Wang‘s films is his latest short Nai Nai and Wài Pó (Festival 2023), which was nominated for a Best Documentary Short Film Academy Award®. His debut feature, Dìdi, won the Sundance Film Festival’s US Dramatic audience award and a US Special Jury Award for its ensemble. It is the recipient of support from SFFILM Rainin Grant, SFFILM Invest, and SFFILM Dolby Institute Fellowship.”

The talk and Q&A was moderated by Reinaldo Marcus Green – a writer, director and producer. Green is best known for directing the critically acclaimed Warner Bros. film King Richard starring Will Smith. It was great to hear more about Sean’s story as how he became a filmmaker and how Sean found his “voice” by moving from Los Angeles to New York, where he found a close knit community of filmmakers. Also, it was crazy to hear how much student loan debt that Green racked up on his journey on becoming a filmmaker.

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SF Film Festival Opening Night: Sean Wang’s ‘Dìdi (弟弟)’

I had the great honor of meeting filmmaker Sean Wang back in December 2023 screening his documentary short Nai Nai and Wài Pó and again in February 2024 after the short was nominated for an Oscar.  Because of that experience, I was excited to learn that Sean’s first feature length film, DÌDI (弟弟), was opening the San Francisco Film Festival.

Dìdi (弟弟):

Dìdi (弟弟) is written and directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sean Wang. The film is set in 2008 in the Bay Area, and is a funny, irreverent, and affecting ode to first-generation teenagers navigating the joy and chaos of adolescence as seen through the lens of a 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy, played by Izaac Wang (Good Boys, Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon). At its premiere in competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival it received critical and audience acclaim, winning both the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast.”

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SF Film Festival: A Tribute to Joan Chen + “Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl”

I had the honor and pleasure of attending the 2024 San Francisco Film Festival and was excited to see iconic filmmaker Joan Chen being honored at this year’s festival. I most remember her in her roles in The Last Emperor and Saving Face. Prior to the highlight reel and the interview/Q&A for Chen’s tribute, Chen gave some opening remarks and then was interviewed by friend and president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Janet Yang.

Joan reflected on her journey from China to the United States and her transition from acting to directing. She shared insights into her motivations, challenges, and experiences in both Hollywood and China. Joan also discussed the cultural differences between the two countries and the evolving nature of their relationship, particularly in the context of film collaboration and how that has unfortunately changed.

She highlighted the importance of curiosity, understanding, and collaboration between the U.S. and China despite political tensions. Throughout the interview, Joan’s resilience, passion for storytelling, and commitment to her craft shined through, reflecting her diverse career and contributions to both American and Chinese cinema.

After the interview and Q&A, there was a screening for Chen’s directorial debut film, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl.

Review of  Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl (some Spoilers)

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Nielsen Finds that Asian Americans are Key Audience for Ad Supported Video On-Demand

The ratings and audience measurement and analysis firm Nielsen has found that Asian Americans are a key audience for ad supported video on-demand services (AVOD), among other findings in their just released their report, Reaching Asian American Audiences: Understanding Asian Influence and Media Consumption, as they acknowledge Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.  In 2023, Asian Americans spent 31% of their viewing time on AVOD compared 27% of the total population.  On top of that, Asian Americans spent nearly 10% more time streaming content compared to the total population.

I have to say that I am part of the group. The Wife, Brother-in-law, and I just finished watching Shogun on ad supported Hulu, and we preferred to deal with some ads rather than paying the higher price. Shogun was good to enough for us to tolerate the ads, but others have called the trend of ad-support streaming something much more negative.

Nielsen has been working with Gold House to measure and understand the impact of Asian American representation in media.  Says Jeremy Tran, Executive Director and COO of Gold House:

“We’re proud to partner with Nielsen to help advance the measurement and understanding of critical narratives that impact Asian American audience trust in TV, Film, and News media. Through our continued collaboration, we aim to empower diverse voices and stories that resonate authentically with our communities.”

You can see more details on this and other insights at https://www.nielsen.com/asian-american/.

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60 Minutes: Meet Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang

We have profiled him recently, but we wanted to point out that 60 Minutes did a great profile on Nvidia and its Taiwanese American CEO (and co-founder) Jensen Huang:

“Jensen Huang leads Nvidia – a tech company with a skyrocketing stock and the most advanced technology for artificial intelligence.”

Huang is doing an excellent job of highlighting Asian American technology and business management when often there is a glass ceiling and when Americans, even Asian Americans, expect their business leaders to be white.

As someone who has lived in Silicon Valley since 1999, Jensen Huang has definitely become a tech rockstar because of the boom in Artificial Intelligence (AI)! As mentioned above, you might want check out our profile of Jensen, which details some other facts not covered by 60 Minutes. We have also covered a number of other Taiwanese CEOs.

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What would happen if TSMC was suddenly destroyed?

By Darren Chen

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is a Taiwan-based company that makes chips in phones, computers, etc. Started in 1987, it has evolved to be one of the world’s largest chip manufacturers. Used in military and civilian use, TSMC is one of the most important companies now in an era dominated by technology. 

TSMC is a company making 90% of the world’s most advanced chips, building chips for big companies such as Apple, AMD, Nvidia, and many more, according to CNBC, making them vital for modern electronics to function. Additionally, TSMC’s dominant role as an advanced chip manufacturer also makes it a leader in the research and development of future technology. TSMC’s job also comes in geopolitical significance, promoting trade and relations with other countries interested in their products, making it one of the, if not the most important companies in the modern day.

But what if they were suddenly wiped off the face of the world?

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‘Invisible Nation’ Sells to Abramorama – Premiering May 31

Last October, I was able to screen the documentary Invisible Nation – which I LOVED – about Taiwan at the Mill Valley Film Festival and at a special screening at Stanford University:

“An Intimate Portrait of President Tsai Ing-wen fighting for the survival of Taiwan’s democracy at a time when freedom around the world is under threat from authoritarianism. Learn more at www.invisiblenation.net

The documentary has been making the film festival circuit and I’ve been helping the filmmaker Vanessa Hope promote the film at various screenings. Now, I’m happy to learn that according to Variety, the film has been picked up by distributor Abramorama:

“Variety’s film critic Richard Kuipers wrote about the film: “The paradox interrogated in ‘Invisible Nation‘ is how such a vibrant, multi-party democracy now finds itself so diplomatically isolated, fighting for its future as a self-ruled country. With a large and impressive roster of Taiwanese and international interviewees surrounding the central footage of Tsai at home and rallying support abroad, Hope and her editors guide viewers clearly through major historical and contemporary events that have made Taiwan such a political hotspot.”

Abramorama will open “Invisible Nation” in New York City on May 31 at the Quad Cinema followed by additional cities nationwide. A multi-theater engagement in Los Angeles will begin on June 20 at the Laemmle Glendale, moving to the Laemmle Royal on June 21. Screenings will be followed by Q&As with the filmmakers and special guests.”

The filmmakers are doing an Oscar qualifying run of Invisible Nation in Encino in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California the week of May 24th.

I’m looking forward to the theatrical release and I’m really hoping for a future Oscar nomination and win for this awesome documentary. As a Taiwanese American, I think this documentary highlights Taiwan’s unique position in the world and why this democracy’s struggle against the threat of China deserves our attention. 

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What if “Gene of AI” became our future?

By Nathan Lin

 

The Japanese cartoon, Gene of AI, available on Crunchyroll, is set in the future where ten percent of the population are humanoids with artificial intelligence (AI). They are robots that are almost exact copies of real humans. In their world, cybercrime and viruses are enormous problems that not only affect computers but humanoid AI as well. As AI technology progresses, we can expect more and more fictional scenarios such as this to grace our storytelling, and every advancement we make makes copying human consciousness into AI more nonfictional than ever. 

So what would happen if we start downloading our brains into robots?

In early April 2022, Elon Musk, Billionaire Space X CEO, was reported on CNBC to have announced that eventually, we may be able to live forever by uploading our minds into robots. Of course, we will be unable to transfer our entire consciousness, but our personalities and memories are preservable. Musk implies this technology will be a gradual evolution of computer memory when he speaks about how phones and computers have amplified communication by a hundredfold, which he compared to magic. 

Michael S.A. Graziano, a psychology and neuroscience professor at Princeton University, in a 2019 Wall Street Journal essay, wrote that two pieces of technology would be required for mind uploading: an artificial brain and a scanner of a brain that measured how its neurons connected to each and the ability to be able to recreate the pattern in the artificial brain. Graziano states that the creation of the artificial brain would be simple but an extremely powerful scanner would be required to process the data of human consciousness in a format that is transferable to an artificial brain. Optimists say mind uploading will be possible within a few decades, but Graziano would not be surprised if it took centuries.

Even if the mind-uploading process becomes possible, what happens if the humanoid AI obtains a virus, or worse, a hacker starts controlling the AI? One possible solution is that society would have evolved the capability of having a specialist able to fix the problem. However, as technology develops, the bugs and glitches that come with it also advance. AV-Test, a well-known IT security institute, registers over 450,000 new malicious programs every day. Currently, the firewalls installed to combat their programs are winning, but what could happen if one slipped through? Furthermore, what unknowns could happen if an experienced hacker invades and ruins the computer inside the humanoid AI? Continue reading

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CAAMFest 2024 Returns May 9-19: Shining Light on Asian American Stories

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) recently announced its fully in-person program for CAAMFest 2024, which will take place May 9-19, 2024 in San Francisco and Oakland. This year’s festival will include over 35 programs that will spotlight film, food, music, and ideas.

Last year, the opening night film was Joy Ride. This year, the opening night film will be the documentary, Admissions Granted:

“In the run-up to the landmark Supreme Court case pitting Asian American plaintiffs against Harvard University, controversial legal strategist Edward Blum took direct aim at dismantling affirmative action, energizing activists on both sides. Admissions Granted tracks the case’s emotional, high-stakes journey to the Supreme Court. Directors Hao Wu (76 Days and 2022 CAAM Mentor) and Miao Wang (CAAM-Funded Beijing Taxi) weave interviews, news archive, and verité footage to produce an honest and hard look at the complexity of the affirmative action debate, revealing the divisions within the Asian American community and our nation’s increasing polarization on matters of race and inclusion.

Expected Guests in Attendance: Directors Hao Wu and Miao Wang”

The Opening Night film screening will take place at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre—followed by the Gala at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Screenings will take place at SFMOMA, the Roxie and the Great Star Theater. The Centerpiece Documentary, Centerpiece Narrative, and SF Closing Night presentations will take place at SFMOMA. The festival will wrap up at New Parkway Theater in Oakland, for a day of screenings and a collaboration with the People’s Kitchen Collective. This year’s food and music programs will be held at various restaurants and venues, including Damansara restaurant and the Yerba Buena Gardens

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AI Image Generators have problems with Asian Male White Female Relationships

As AI technology becomes more advanced, the technology can mimic human capabilities.  In addition, AI technology can mimic human biases, as a particular AI image generator has been reported by Mia Sato on The Verge to have problems generating images of couples with Asian Males White Females.  That particular type of couple (aka AMWF) doesn’t seem to happen as often as the reverse, as has been discussed on our site many times. Technology evolves quickly, so I decided to it out for myself as well as try out another AI Image Generator. Note that all of the pictures in this post were generated on April 15, 2024.

The AI image generator in question comes from Meta and can be found at imagine.meta.com.  The above picture is what I got when I tried “asian man with white wife” as a prompt.  Apparently “asian woman with white male” can be conceived but the reverse cannot not. The image generator gave a number of choices, and all of them wrong in the same way. It made me wonder how other prompts would do as well as another AI image generator.

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Taiwanese CEOs: Jerry Yang

By Travis Yen

From modest origins in Taipei, Taiwan, Jerry Yang rose to become a visionary entrepreneur and industry trendsetter, co-founding one of the internet’s pioneering enterprises. His narrative serves as a tribute to tenacity, inventiveness, and the revolutionary potential of the digital era.

Yang was born in Taipei, Taiwan, on November 6, 1968. His early years were influenced by the vibrant cultural landscape and swift economic growth of his own country. Yang was raised in a middle-class home and showed a prodigious mind and a love of learning. His childhood taught him the virtues of perseverance, hard effort, and determination—qualities that would guide him in all of his future pursuits.

Yang traveled to the United States in order to pursue his academic goals, enrolling at Stanford University. He met fellow student David Filo at Stanford, where they struck up a connection that would eventually lead to their ground-breaking partnership. Yang has the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully traverse the rapidly evolving field of technology thanks to his education in electrical engineering and computer science.

Driven by their mutual curiosity and spirit of entrepreneurship, Yang and Filo co-founded Yahoo! in 1994, a web directory that would completely change how people accessed the internet for information.  Yahoo! developed into a comprehensive platform including search, email, news, and more as the internet grew quickly. As Yahoo! became a household name and a symbol of the promise of the internet, Yang’s position as Chief Yahoo catapulted him into the forefront of the dot-com era.
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