My Bev’s Girl Films partner Garth Kravits and I are delighted to have our short film, Hide and Seek as an official selection of the 2016 Chicago International Social Change Film Festival. Our Midwest Premiere screening is on Sunday, September 25, 2016, at the Showplace Icon Theatre, 150 W. Roosevelt in Chicago, IL 60608, in the A Day in Her Shoes: Gender-Based Discrimination, Violence and Other Challenges of Womanhood Program, 4:05P.M. – 5:40P.M.
Lia Chang (Big Trouble In Little China, New Jack City, King of New York) stars in Hide and Seek, a film she co-produced and co-wrote with Garth Kravits (The Drowsy Chaperone, “The Blacklist,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Hostages” ), who is also featured in the film. Hide and Seek addresses the topic of media images that validate beauty in contemporary America. Hide and Seek was named among the top ten films of the 2015 Asian American Film Lab‘s 72 Hour Shootout -Two Faces – Filmmaking Competition, and Chang received a Best Actress nomination for her starring role. Kravits shared camera operator duties with Evan Daves, composed the original score with Tyler Kent, directed and edited the film.
Other films screening: The Girl Epidemic (2), Break the Branch (74), and I Just Don’t Know (10).
Co-founded by social entrepreneur Emile Cambry, Jr. and poverty law attorney Todd Belcore, the pair choose to addresses major issues and hardships around the world, with world premieres, Q&As with directors and panelists and proactive brainstorming sessions to remedy issues presented in the films.
Q & A with Lia and Garth
What inspired you to tell this story?
Kravits: Our film was created as part of the Asian American Film Lab’s 11th 72 Hour Film Shootout filmmaking competition, where
filmmaking teams have just 72 hours to conceive, write, shoot, edit and submit a film based on a common theme. The winners were announced during the 38th Asian American International Film Festival in New York last July. The theme for 2015 was ‘Two Faces’ and was part of a larger more general theme of ‘Beauty’. It only took Lia and I about 30 minutes to come to an agreement on the basic concept and main character. Lia suggested that the ‘Two Faces’ be the two faces of one person. From there our ideas snowballed. The truth is, given the semi-controlled mayhem that is inherent with these kind of time constraints, we were so focused on the story telling and the shooting/editing that it really wasn’t until the screening and subsequent audience response that we realized the impact of the message we’d created. Of course, it was our intention all along to address the issues of beauty, the challenge women face et al, but we didn’t set out to make a ‘message-y’ film. That being said, we’re both very happy that our story has resonated with so many of the people that have seen it.
Chang: I began my career in the arts as a model, before adding my hats as an actress, a photographer, a journalist and now, filmmaker. I’ve seen and experienced it all. While the film is a work of fiction, I know many people, not just women, who have felt the way my character feels in the film, a certain kind of invisibility. I am grateful that my parents, Bev Umehara and Russell Chang, instilled a healthy sense of self-esteem in me from an early age.
What challenges did you face in making this film?
Kravits: Other than the challenges already mentioned, I think the biggest challenge was getting the story told without the help of dialogue. One of the first decisions I made, as the director of “Hide and Seek,” was that our film would be silent and use underscoring of original music that I was planning on composing. The decision was mostly predicated on knowing how time consuming the editing of dialogue can be and given the various locations we shot in, I didn’t want to worry about having to mix room tones in such a short amount of time. The challenge with this, however, is that the large part of the storytelling responsibility fell to our lead actress, and co-creator of the film, Lia Chang and her ability to convey the whole story with just her face, basically. I’m happy to say that not only did she succeed in this capacity, but it also earned her a Best Actress Nomination at the 72 Hour Shootout competition.
What inspires you to create as an artist?
Chang: The importance of inclusion and gender parity. The lack of positive images of Asian Americans in mainstream media. All of the mediums that I create in – as an actress, a photographer, a journalist and a filmmaker – are all forms of storytelling. I consider myself fortunate that I am in the position to decide which is the most effective way to tell our stories. Seizing the reins by producing our own films and creating multi-dimensional characters as opposed to the many stereotypical roles that were offered me early in my career as an actress is what drives me. I have a very low boredom threshold.
Kravits: I think I can speak for Lia when I say that we both feel very strongly about telling stories from an individual’s perspective. We have each come from very different backgrounds and had vastly different experiences coming up in the ranks of this industry. But what we do share is a wealth of fantastic experiences with all of the characters we’ve met along the way. We are inspired daily by the people in our lives. Some stories we know well and some we learn as we go. Being able to shape and share these stories into new perspectives and new ideas is incredibly gratifying.
What’s your next project?
Kravits: We have several irons in the fire. We are developing a musical short film and a sci-fi fantasy film and a narrative film.
Chang: We formed Bev’s Girl Films to create films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. The narrative film we are working on is based on the story of my mother, Bev Umehara, for whom our film company, Bev’s Girl Films, is named after. It is a passion project that I have wanted to make since her unexpected passing in 1999. The film is about my mother’s calling which came late in life, at 47, when she made the sudden transformation from a humble hardworking secretary and mother of four, into a labor activist, a respected union leader, and a role model for rank-and-file workers, women of color, and for all Asian Pacific Americans. I can also be seen in NoMBe’s “Kemosabe” music video by Matthew Dillon Cohen.
Garth Kravits is an actor, singer, musician and composer and award winning filmmaker. On television, Kravits has guest starred on “30 Rock,” “The Blacklist,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Hostages,” “Tin Man,” “Civil” and “The Carrie Diaries” and played opposite Keanu Reeves in the feature film Sweet November.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
The Chicago International Social Change Film Festival (CISCFF) features eye-opening, inspiring films from all over the world that allow attendees to see stories of hope and hardship from the perspective of those dealing with them firsthand.
CISCFF is also an innovative vehicle for change that allows attendees to turn their inspiration into change by providing them with access to the filmmakers, organizations and action opportunities dedicated to resolving the issues highlighted in the films featured.
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