The Dealio

File Under: Miscellaneous

Our friends over at Dealership (who kindly played Directions in Sound at the 2004 SFIAAFF) were recently in Los Angeles filming a video for a single off their soon-to-be released new album ACTION ADVENTURE.

Photos from the set reveal a green screen, martial arts moves, and doubles! Wow!

Hmm, I wonder if the video will be done in time for the 2005 SFIAAFF Music Video program...


Susan Arakawa wins award for MANKAI

File Under: News

The folks at indieWIRE report:

MCKNIGHT WINNERS: The IFP/Minneapolis/St Paul has announced the 2004 McKnight Screenwriting Fellows:Susan Arakawa and Brad Pecelj.

Each receives a $25,000 cash award, a public reading of their winning screenplay, and guarantees admission into the 2004 IFP Market. Arakawa's "Mankai" is about a young Japanese sushi chef who moves to Brooklyn, and Pecelj's "An Unforgettable Stranger" is a mystery/drama about an unhappy married couple who meet two strangers.


Searching for a Fitting Closing

File Under: Film Fesival Planning

For the past few weeks Khristine and I have been scouting venues for the 2005 SFIAAFF Closing Night. We're looking for a different place than the War Memorial Green Room where we've had it in years past.

At this point we've hit most of the venues that are within our price range that hit the criteria:

  • Wheelchair accessible

  • Parking available nearby

  • Pretty architecture

  • Pretty inside

  • Centrally located

  • Stage in main room

  • Independent catering and alcohol - okay

So now we're thinking of alternative spaces. We've thought of large galleries (perhaps) and now we're thinking of different types of alternative spaces. We're getting wild here, we're thinking in dotcom terms.

That is - remember when dotcom parties were every and anywhere? [I remember an airplane hangar on Treasure Island, some retail stores, and more clubs than I can count.] That's what I'm thinking of.

So, if anyone remembers a cool (and affordable or sponsorship-related-able) place I'm up for any and all suggestions, e-mail me yo!


Two Korean films--vastly different

It's 6:25pm and I'm sitting in the practically empty theatre. There's maybe 20 of us in total in the audience. We're waiting to see the film "The Road Taken." I wonder if it's because of the subject matter that doesn't attract crowds? Since there is such a small audience, the person collecting surveys for the drawing is forced to talk to people indivdually who can't seem to figure out..what a survey is. Questions like, what's the survey for? What do I need to fill it out? Do I have to fill it out? Are called out randomly. I roll my eyes annoyed. If you were a regular festival goer, you would know that it's in your best interest to fill out the very short survey to be entered into the drawing. I started to feel like I was back in high school and these audience members were whining kids who didn't want to do their homework. One woman in the audience called out quite snottily that she didn't receive a pencil to fill out the survey. Where was her pencil? I took a deep breath in at the stupidity of some people. I recognized her as the woman who minutes before downstairs at the ticket booth was complaining that she couldn't buy her tickets a day in advance. There's always one person...

"The Road Taken" is based on the true story of Kim Son-Myong who spent 45 years in jail for standing up for his beliefs and ideals. He was a south korean who joined the North Korean army and was imprisoned for being a communist traitor. The film starts out light...showing how living in a prison has it's own routines and expectations. How friends or commrades as they called each other were the lifeline to survival. They had a tapping system on the walls that enabled them to communicate with one another. Outside news was told through this way. But soon, you started to feel like you were in that prison with them. It started to become repeitious. Torture, bad food, little humanity and yet, still not surrendering to South korean politics were the only thing that kept these men in jail. Even after 45 years of the character who played Kim Son-Myong is released and free to go on a special pardon, there isn't that sense of redemption. I was left feeling...quite sad. Not really inspired by this man's fight. Just wondering, if it really was worth it? His whole life..gone, spent in a jail. He watched as all his friends left or died. And for what? To be loyal to his beliefs?

Thankfully, the next movie I saw that night was the Korean, romantic comedy (emphasis on the comedy) called "Please Teach me English." The backbone of the story was Korea's facination to learn english. It's believed that if you speak english, it will advance your career, your love life and will open all doors to the infinite possibilities in life. Na Yeong Ju, an entry level, government offical is picked out of everyone in her office to learn how to speak english because of a run in with an angry customer. She attends enlish classes and meets Park Mun-Soo, a slick rick playboy type who she immediately falls for. He in turn likes the Australian English teacher, Cathy. I was anticipating this movie being similar to "My Sassy Girl," my all time favorite Korean film. But...it actually topped it. I have never laughed so hard in a movie theatre! And it wasn't just sections that were chucklesome. The whole movie...I laughed, the audience laughed...every was laughing. Certain parts, the audience even clapped, they were so entertained. This was the kind of movie experience I was used to at this festival. A packed crowd, craning your neck to read the subtitles..and laugh out loud fun. Hands down, I would recommend this movie to anyone who needs a little pep in their step. A Korean film not to be missed!


NYAFF.."Dance With the Wind"

Today was the second day of attending the NY Asian Film Festival. Out of all the films I planned to see, this was the film I was anticipating the most. I knew I was going for work purposes, but I couldn't help but insert my own personal biases toward Korean films. Not only was it a romantic comedy (my all time favorite type of genre...and yes, my tastes drive home the stereotypical girl preference)....but there was dancing! Call me strange, but I am a sucker for any movie that showcases dancing. I've even stooped as low as to watch "Centerstage" since dancing was the main focus. I was imagining this film to be compared to "Strictly Ballroom." I couldn't wait to see if my assumption was correct.

I walked in at 8pm, a half hour before showtime and was slightly disturbed to find absolutely no crowd. No lines, nothing. I was insulted on behalf of all korean romantic comedies out there. Around 8:15, a small crowd started to form. Even though the film was supposed to start at 8:30pm, the 6:30pm screening hadn't even let out yet. Instead of crowding at the bottom level of the theatre, people started to form a line up the stairs. This was good to alieviate the bottle necking effect down below, but wasn't wise as far as control. Anyone could stand on the stairs even if they didn't have a ticket and get in. The ticket takers and ushers were no where to be found. Finally at 8:30pm, the crowd was let out and we were let in. The sense of urgency to have the film start on time, the people standing in the back of the theatre wearing headsets were glaringly missing. But since no one seemed to be worried about the late start, I wasn't either.

I looked around the audience and noticed that this night's crowd mostly consisted of young Asian professionals. Probably Korean. In the year's past Koreans came out in droves to support the Korean films showcased in the festival. My Sassy Girl, JSA and Chingu all were sold out. JSA was so popular that they added another screening to meet the high demand. Tonight would not be a sold out show.

A few minutes later a man introduced the start of the show. I couldn't help but be disappointed that Grady wasn't introducing the film. His energy and exaggerated voice stirred the crowd into excitement and always induced laughter. This guy was bland and barely audible since microphones didn't seem to exist in the theatre. He simply said that the drawing was about to happen. Tonight was a chance to win:
*"God of Cookery" DVD
*"Double Vision" VCD
*Zatauchi Tshirt
I crossed my fingers hoping that my name would be pulled and I could win the "God of Cookery" DVD. We had screened "God of Cookery" at our festival, but I wasn't able to watch it myself. The names were announced quickly and without any flare. My name was not called. Would I ever win one of these drawings?!

"Dance With the Wind," directed by Park Jun-Woo gave us a glimpse into the shady world of..gasp, dance. Starting with the jive and working up to ballroom dancing, Poongshik (played by Lee Sung-Jae) is innately drawn to dance. He finds himself seducing married women and taking their money, not because he's a gigalo, but because of his deep love and need for dance. Yeonhwa, an undercover cop is assigned to the case to bring Poongshik down. Apparently Poongshik seduced the wrong woman, the police captains wife...and now justice must be served. Yeonhwa is checked into the hospital with a fake neck injury to get closer to Poongshik, who for reasons that aren't explained upfront is also serving time in the hospital. Poongshik tells Yeonhwa the story of his life, how he became a smooth, sauve, irressistable ladies magnet, but most importantly, a passionate dancer. There are more twists and explainations to his story, but what shines out the most is the appreciation for the art of dance. Also, there are laugh out loud, funny moments. The best scene by far is the first dance instructor Poongshik seeks out. A tiny old man who can barely stir in sugar for his tea, but becomes a young 20-something year old man again once he starts to dance. The last half of the movie starts to drag, and the ending is not clearly defined, but all in all a very enjoyable film.


Attending the NY Asian Film festival..."Macabre Case of Prom Pi Ram"

I'm back in NYC, the place I called home before I moved to SF. I came for some personal business, but decided to extend my stay so I could attend two Asian Film festivals: the NY Asian Film festival (June 18-27) and Asian Cinevision's film festival (July 16-24). I had gone to these festivals while living in NY, but had come from a different perspective, as a viewer or patron. I wasn't looking out for structure, organization and if any of these films could potentially be shown in our festival. Now, with a year of festival experience behind me, I had a different agenda in mind. I was going to see how their festivals ran operationally, to network, to publicize NAATA and our festival and to watch films that could potentially be showcased in our festival.

NY ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL: I entered the Anthology Film Archives at 6:15pm (a museum known for preserving and exhibiting films as an art form), and was surprised to find a short line in front of the box office. Usually 15 minutes before showtime, there was a long line outside that wrapped around the building with people anxiously waiting to buy a ticket. On my way up to the 200 seat theatre, I was handed a survey. Inside the theatre, I was again surprised at the low turn out. The first three rows were practically empty and other vacant seats were sporadically spaced here and there. I figured about 70% of the theatre was filled. Usually the shows were sold out and I had to fight for a seat. I reasoned that it was a 6:30pm weeknight showing. Most people in NY didn't get out of work till after 7pm. I also noted that the majority of the crowd seemed to be white. This was evidence of the growing, if not established interest for Asian culture and arts by non-asian folks.

At 6:30pm instead of the movie starting, workers climbed up a tall ladder to fix a hanging drape that would have blocked a corner of the screen. The movie was obviously not going to start on time. My theatre operational mind kicked in and I did a time count. If we started at 6:30pm, the film was 108 minutes long, so it would end at 8:18pm. This did not include the introduction and commerical/ trailer time. Add another 10 minutes. So really, we'd be exiting the theatre around 8:30pm, also the time when the next film was supposed to start. I wondered who did the programming schedule? Usually the rule of thumb to turn around a theatre (exit the people from the theatre, clean the theatre, and fully seat the next screening) is a 1/2 hour.

As I waited, I was vaguely aware of the music video by Full Metal Alchemist playing on screen. I looked around the theatre for any posters or signs of the sponsors. There were two huge hanging posters that said, "Discover the tiger!" I could only guess that it was advertising Tiger beer, their main sponsor.

At 6:36pm, Grady (one of the organizers for the festival) started the show. In an exaggerated, game show host way he:
*welcomed the crowd
*annouced the two sponsors (Tiger Beer & Yesasia.com)
*explained the audience award
*announced last minute changes in schedule and added titles
*read a review of the film festival from The New Yorker
Then came my favorite part. Where he announced the winners of the drawing.
Audience members that dutifully filled out their surveys were automatically entered to win a chance at three prizes--a movie poster, a mask or a dvd. My name was not drawn. Sadly, I was not a winner. This past year at our festival, we also had an audience survey and membership forms that we wanted people to fill out right away. The trick is to give them the incentive to want to do this. I thought the instant gratification, win a prize from a drawing (right now) worked well at the NY Asian Film festival.

Finally the screening started. We sat through two commercials for Tiger beer, 1 commercial for yesasia.com and two movie trailers (both that were not subtitled) before the actual film started. I leaned back in my seat preparing to soak in the movie.

"Macabre Case of Prom Pi Ram," directed by Manop Udomdej is a film that quietly peels away the darkness of the human condition in a small country town. It starts out with two good cops who are determined to solve the mysterious murder of an unknown girl found dead next to the train tracks. Told in a linear fashion with full scenes of flashbacks to what really happened, this is not a complicated story. But as the movie progresses forward, the horror of what this woman had to endure becomes painful to watch. Thoughts of oh no, oh no...not again? Not again! raced through my mind. It would make any woman, passive feminest or activist want to jump into the screen and save this victim from the awful, sick men who seem to have no conscience. The only redemention for the victim is that the cops do solve the case by the end.

I left the theatre in a daze, still thinking about the film, trying to sort out how I really felt about it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a line wrapped around the building seeming to have no end. It was 8:45pm, and the next screening would soon be underway. I smiled, happy for the crowd that they were about to see an incredible film, "Vibrator" and proud of the NY Asian film festival for attracting such interest on a Monday night.


And they're off... Frameline Opening Night

File Under: Reconnaissance

Last night Taro, Chi-hui, Khristine (intern) & I attended the opening night party for FRAMELINE 28. Michael & crew put on an amazingly good party. The event took place at City Hall to commemorate the strides that Gay & Lesbian marriage has had this year. The gala was fun with plenty of alcohol flowing and Jimi Mistry and Kyle Maclachlan representin'.

As always it's a social/work event. I go into these gala parties with darting eyes. And what do I see? There seems to be an increase in using projections and/or transparencies for logos on walls during opening night festivities. The special events planner utilized the space very creatively, breaking the party up into three rooms (1) the main foyer with a string quartet playing, (2) the live band covering disco-era music room, and (3) the quiet room with tables and very little ambient music. It worked out really well, the event didn't feel packed, but felt full of people. The flow of the crowd was pretty awesome and one didn't have to wait more than 5-10 minutes in the busiest of lines (for alcohol).

Frameline rocks! Catch a movie if you get a chance, the Festival runs through June 27th.


Submitting Online Via Withoutabox

File Under: Film Festival Planning

Not long after our 2004 festival has wrapped, we’re already at work gearing up for next year, and it starts with opening our call for entries. And with this, my very first blog ever, I’m going to write about a first for our festival—an online submission process.

We’re partnering with Withoutabox.com, a company established just a few years ago. The way it works is that filmmakers enjoy discounts and the convenience of submitting forms online, while festivals are able to import data directly into the database rather than wasting hours of staff time manually inputting information as indicated on the printed forms. (We help save trees, too, by using online press kits!) Considering that the technology itself (an online application form) is not difficult to create, and since Withoutabox.com charges a commission on each entry, we weren’t initially sold on the merit of this service. But one notion intrigued us. Since Withoutabox.com has over 30,000 filmmakers using their system, if even a small percentage of those filmmakers have Asian American projects to submit, we could potentially reach several hundred eligible applicants and perhaps help increase the number of submissions we receive.

The two big questions are these:
1) What percentage of the filmmakers out there are Asian American (or making Asian American films)?
2) Of those, how many are familiar with our festival?

There’s no way to really know, but by the end of the year, we’ll find out if Withoutabox has helped us find more Asian American projects. Then there’s always the issue of a number of Asian American filmmakers choosing to not submit their work to an Asian American film festival, hoping instead to screen at a more "mainstream" festival, but that’s a whole other topic to be discussed later.