A Private Screening of ZATOICHI

File Under: Miscellaneous

Last night NAATA had a preview screening of ZATOICHI: The Blind Swordsman --- a new movie by Takeshi (Beat) Kitano.

A preview screening is a great way for Festival (and NAATA) to engage the public in a way that doesn't involve us asking for financial support. A screening brings together the members, the donors, the volunteers, the friends, and the staff for an evening of cinematic entertainment. The audience is united in its support of NAATA and the SFIAAFF and through attending the event are given a nugget of exclusivity.

"Be the first one on your block to watch ZATOICHI!"

The evening is beneficial situation for all involved. Audience members are given a free, exclusive preview, NAATA is given an opportunity to support Asian Film and reward supporters, and the film studio (in this case, Miramax) is given a marketing opportunity with a highly targeted demographic, thus increasing their chances of a "word-of-mouth" marketing campaign.


The Day After Tomorrow

File Under: Synopsis and Review

Sometimes a movie is so bad it is funny. Not a funny to everybody movie, but a post ironic - "ha-ha! can you believe they poured money into this?" type of thing. To me that is what THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW was all about. It put me in a really good mood, as disaster movies normally do. (Am I right here?)

On the representin' front, Tamlyn Tomita does a good job as Janet Tokada, Jim Hamaguchi as Taka and Russell Yuen as Hideki, the Japanese Astronaut, Nobuya Shimamoto as the Japanese Policeman, Bunrey Miyake as the Japanese Shop Owner, Alvin Tam as Japanese Reporter, Mikio Owaki as the Noodle Chef, Rob Fuguzaki as the National Newscaster, Leyna Nguyen as Misc. Newscaster #1, Lina Patel as Misc. Newscaster #2 - there were perhaps more that I didn't catch.

Hopefully we're getting to a place in media where it is a no-brainer that Asian Americans will be cast in roles (both starring and supporting) in which ethnic identity doesn't play a factor.

Frameline 28

File Under: Reconnaissance

Yesterday the Festival Department went to the Press Conference for the 28th San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Frameline is our neighbor at the 9th street Independent Media Center, we cheer them on and they do the same for us. Their program is impressive starting with the Opening Night feature TOUCH OF PINK and closing with D.E.B.S.. After the announcements by Michael Lumpkin (Festival Co-Director) and Jennifer Morris (Festival Co-Director) TOCUH OF PINK was screened.

The casting of Kyle MacLachlan as the Cary Grant imaginary confidant was truly inspired. One scene that had MacLachlan in full safari gear straddling an ice sculpture was just hilarity inducing. The story follows Alim (Jimi Mistry) as he deals with coming out to his mother and what that means to his relationship with his British boyfriend. The movie will make a great Opening Night, heading the schedule for a gripping festival that wil touch on both light and hard issues facing the community, such as marriage rights and a gay slasher film.

Check out the schedule if you get a chance, Frameline does an awesome job of putting on a great Festival year after year.


Clean-up & Reporting

File Under: Film Festival Planning

I'm at that point of the Film Festival cycle when reporting to sponsors and foundations (government and private) are what preoccupies my time. There are two pieces to this project that make it excruciating; the first is double checking payments received and getting those who haven't paid to "pay up;" the second being actual grant reporting to justify monies received. I will elaborate more on the latter now.

Grantwriting can, arguably, be an art. You write what exciting programs you have in mind if only you could get the money to fund it.

The best grants are realistic, imaginative and contain an arc - just like a story, your project/program/non-profit is the protagonist. You give reasons why your story makes sense and (if you're good) you let them know how you can prove it to them that you've done (or attempted to do) everything you say you will. All the while allowing for the possibility that an unexpected outcome may happen, but you'll judge what happens by this specified criteria so everyone can see how the results may come to pass.

The most important thing to do when you write all this is that you follow through with the measures you describe to judge the efficacy of the project/program/non-profit. You'll save yourself time and hair-pulling if you have these measures built into the program themselves (e.g. questionnaires as part of a panel discussion). Then when the time comes you can compute the data from the questionnaires put it in the context of the original grant and send it off to the foundation.

And if you don't have technology issues like we do at NAATA (OS 9.2 for chrissakes!) then the process is rather smooth. Taking into account that you're a good writer, that you aren't burnt out, etc... but I digress.

Happy reporting!


Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring

File Under: Synopsis & Review

A quiet Korean and German movie that tells the fable of life and the burdens we carry with us. The movie takes place on a small floating monastery, a monk lives with a young boy (probably about 5 years old). The monk is his master out to teach the boy how to find tranquility and live a similiar life of Zen peacefulness. In the first vignette of Spring, the boy is chastised for his treatment of small creatures. It is so beautifully simple that it seems to be beamed right out of a koan. Things change in Summer, as the boy is shown to be approximately of teen age. A sickly young girl comes to live with them on the monastic boathouse and (of course) an affair between the two youths blooms.

The film is told with very little dialogue and extremely lush scenes of the area that the monastic boathouse exits in. The fable of the story is the fragility of life and the burdens we carry. There is an extremely strong metaphor about doors and the use and placement of doors. The kanji for "shut" as in "shut the door" is also fraught with meaning. Kim Ki-Duk did an excellent job of carving out the simple beauty without words.


Supersize Me

File Under: Synopsis & Review

Morgan Spurlock chose to make himself a guinea pig for the sake of a documentary. For 30 days he had the sedentary lifestyle of an average American and he ate at McDonalds every day for 30 days. He would not eat it if it wasn't on the McDonalds menu.

So what happened?

Kidney problems, impotence, depression, and addiction to the food.

Some strange stuff. A really good examination of the Fastfood Industry a la Michael Moore-style. It makes one question what they're putting into their body. The film has been hitting the Film Festival circuit. Both screenings sold-out at the SFIFF, so San Franciscans have been chomping at the bit (pardon the very deliberate pun) to see it.


Beat! Beat! Retreat! Retreat!

File Under: Film Festival Planning

The last two work days, May 6 and 7 respectively was spent at a house in the Upper Haight district of San Francisco.

The four of us, what I like to call the "core four" or "core of four" sat down and hashed out on Day 1 what went right and wrong with the 2004 SFIAAFF. Then on Day 2 by hashed out what we wanted for the 2005 SFIAAFF.

So what went wrong?
  • personnel issues (which lead to a whole host of issues)
  • lack of planning
  • lack of team cohesiveness

  • What went right? Basically what made us look professional to the outside.

  • fundraising
  • ticket sales
  • outreach
  • programming
  • guest services

  • It was cathartic and exhausting to try to shape a common vision. I realized that we may all be working very hard towards a vision of the SFIAAFF, but that we may be working at cross purposes if that vision is not the same vision. After the retreat, I'm not sure we all have the same vision. But we are getting closer.


    VC or The LA Asian American Film Festival

    File Under: Reconnaissance

    A free ticket on SWA and I was off to Los Angeles to see how the crew at Visual Comunications put on an Asian American Film Festival. They turned 20 this year.

    Opening Night Film was Wayne Wang's Chan is Missing. An engaging tale of two cab drivers and their search for their friend Chan. Shot cinema verite style by Mchael Chin (with sound by Curtis Choy) the gritty camera work perfectly compliments the pair as they banter througout the film in their quest for not only Where Chan is, but Who Chan is. Therefore asking in a wider context about the Asian American experience (embodied by Chan) and his environs.

    The Festival itself - it's hard not to do a side-by-side comparison of our differences - the biggest difference being only geography. [VC and NAATA are aligned in mission statements.] A point-by-point rundown would do both NAATA and VC a disservice.

    An enviable thing they do have is much more Hollywood-style star power: James Hong, John Cho and from Big Fish Ada and Arlene Tai. This was in addition to the usual cast of characters, including the SDAFF crew and Director Im Sang-soo.

    Being the starf*cker that I am this lent a shiny glint to the evening of good conversation, tapioca drinks and sumptious desserts.