Tag Archives: CAAMFest 2016

Bev’s Girl Films Produces BALANCING ACT Starring Lia Chang and Liam Quill Kong, for Justin Lin’s 2016 INTERPRETATIONS 2.0 Short Film Initiative

Lia Chang and Garth Kravits during Facebook live interview. Photo by Geoffrey Guerrero
Lia Chang and Garth Kravits during Facebook live interview. Photo by Geoffrey Guerrero

It’s a wrap for Balancing Act, a new short film by Bev’s Girl Films team Lia Chang and Garth Kravits, created for Justin Lin’s Interpretations Short Film Contest for Asian American Filmmakers.

Lia Chang (Big Trouble In Little ChinaNew Jack CityKing of New York) stars in Balancing Act, a film she co-produced, co-wrote and co-directed with Garth Kravits (The Drowsy Chaperone, “The Blacklist,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Hostages,” “Civil”). The cast also features Liam Quill Kong, Pamela Bob, Dave T. Koenig, Laura Hall and Virginia Wing.Balancing Act Poster Final copy

SYNOPSIS – How does a single mother balance her life, work and child?

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Balancing Act is the second short film created by Bev’s Girl Films, dedicated to making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. We wanted to show, not only the struggle that working, single mothers face each day, but also show the joy and love that is often taken for granted.

Liam Quill Kong in BALANCING ACT. Photo by Lia Chang
Liam Quill Kong in BALANCING ACT. Photo by Lia Chang

You can check out Balancing Act at www.yomyomf.com, click on Interpretations and choose all entries.

Balancing Act Facebook Page

Fun in the sun with mom and sister Tami in Lake Tahoe in 1970. Photo by Russell Chang
Fun in the sun with mom and sister Tami in Lake Tahoe in 1970. Photo by Russell Chang

Bev’s Girl Films is named after Lia’s mother, Bev Umehara, and this film was created to honor her, her father, Russell Chang, and all the single parents navigating their own ‘Balancing Act’.

Lia Chang, Marissa Chang-Flores, Russell Chang, Asia Flores, Tami Chang and Carlos Flores at the 2016 FIDM Graduation at the STAPLES Center in LA on June 20, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang, Marissa Chang-Flores, Russell Chang, Asia Flores, Tami Chang and Carlos Flores at the 2016 FIDM Graduation at the STAPLES Center in LA on June 20, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia received a Best Actress nomination for her debut short, Hide and Seek, a top ten film in the Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition. She is also a photographer and an award-winning multi-platform journalist who writes about Arts and Entertainment and Asian American issues on her Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

Edited by: Garth Kravits
Screenplay: David Henry Hwang
Director of Photography: Christopher Plunkett
Original Score – Scott CHOPS Jung

Special thanks to Joan Leviton Kagan, Erin Quill and Chil Kong.

Erin Quill and her son, Liam Quill Kong, on the set of BALANCING ACT. Photo by Lia Chang
Erin Quill and her son, Liam Quill Kong, on the set of BALANCING ACT. Photo by Lia Chang

YouoffendmeYouoffendmyfamily.com (YOMYOMF), the blog and entertainment website devoted to Asian American culture founded by Hollywood director Justin Lin (BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, FAST AND FURIOUS series, STAR TREK BEYOND) has launched the second edition of the highly successful INTERPRETATIONS Initiative that was previously held in 2010 to find the next generation of Asian American filmmakers. Comcast and NBCUniversal are lead sponsors of the initiative.

Judging will commence in July and August with the announcement of the Top 15 on September 6, with online voting kicking off that day through October 6. The final 3 winners will be announced online on October 10 and they will be invited to attend the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival on October 19 at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Participants must be a resident of the United States of America and at least 13 years old.

What is Interpretations?
INTERPRETATIONS is a way of encouraging aspiring filmmakers to develop their own original and unique voice. All participants will “interpret” a four line script, and can produce and shoot it any way they wish. The only caveat is that the lines are static and must be in that order and the actual film itself is no more than 3 minutes long. Therefore, everyone is shooting their films from the same material and leveling the playing field in a way that traditional filmmaking competitions cannot. Three shorts will be selected from the entries and these winning filmmakers will have an opportunity to produce a project for one of the Comcast or NBCUniversal platforms under the mentorship of Justin Lin and other industry professionals.

The first Interpretations Initiative kicked off in the spring of 2010 with nine commissioned shorts by the likes of YouTube stars Wong Fu ProductionsDanny Pudi (NBC’s COMMUNITY), Far East Movement, and other industry professionals, to showcase the varied interpretations of the same script. In the end, over 275 shorts were submitted online and was whittled down to five winners.

Justin Lin. Photo by Lia Chang
Justin Lin. Photo by Lia Chang

“The first Interpretations Initiative was such a success that I am very excited to be launching it again and with a stronger fortitude to really make this more than just a contest but an opportunity to actually incubate potential careers for budding filmmakers.” says YOMYOMF founder Justin Lin, who is currently in post-production on his latest tentpole film, STAR TREK BEYOND (coming out this July). “Interpretations 2016 is a part of the bigger picture of YOMYOMF 2.0, where we want to establish and nurture an Asian American creative community of content creators and enthusiasts where ideas and collaboration is exchanged regularly and we can see what projects we can develop with emerging talent. I never had something like YOMYOMF when I first started my career. It’s an exciting time to be an emerging filmmaker.”

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

For this edition of Interpretations, the 4-line script was written by Tony Award winning playwright and screenwriter David Henry Hwang  (M BUTTERFLY, CHINGLISH, Showtime’s THE AFFAIR). “It’s not as easy as one would think to just come up with 4 lines of dialogue.” says Hwang. “The script needs to be broad and fluid enough so that one director could craft a comedy from it, another a speculative fiction story, another an action film, another an experimental work of animation, and so on.”

Here’s this year’s four-line script:
Don’t do that.
Of course.
I have my doubts.
What is it?

As lead sponsors for this year’s Interpretations Initiative, Comcast and NBCUniversal intend to support new talent and discover new opportunities for various elements of Comcast and NBCUniversal.

Lia Chang in BALANCING ACT
Lia Chang in BALANCING ACT

Facebook Live Interviews: 2016 Katra Film Series – 2nd Round Finalists; 14 Films Compete for $2000 in Prizes on July 16
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

 

Justin Lin’s Interpretations Short Film Contest for Asian American Filmmakers Extends Submission Deadline to July 15

By popular demand, the deadline to submit a short film to Interpretations and a chance to direct a project produced by STAR TREK BEYOND director Justin Lin has been extended to July 15, 2016.

Interpretations-Banner-01-1024x239

YouoffendmeYouoffendmyfamily.com (YOMYOMF), the blog and entertainment website devoted to Asian American culture founded by Hollywood director Justin Lin (BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, FAST AND FURIOUS series, STAR TREK BEYOND) has launched the second edition of the highly successful INTERPRETATIONS Initiative that was previously held in 2010 to find the next generation of Asian American filmmakers. Comcast and NBCUniversal are lead sponsors of the initiative.

Click here for the contest details.

The official call for entries began March 31st at CAAMFest and the deadline has been extended until July 15th at 11:59 PM PST. Judging will commence in July and August with the announcement of the Top 15 on September 6, with online voting kicking off that day through October 6. The final 3 winners will be announced online on October 10 and they will be invited to attend the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival on October 19 at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Participants must be a resident of the United States of America and at least 13 years old.

What is Interpretations?
INTERPRETATIONS is a way of encouraging aspiring filmmakers to develop their own original and unique voice. All participants will “interpret” a four line script, and can produce and shoot it any way they wish. The only caveat is that the lines are static and must be in that order and the actual film itself is no more than 3 minutes long. Therefore, everyone is shooting their films from the same material and leveling the playing field in a way that traditional filmmaking competitions cannot. Three shorts will be selected from the entries and these winning filmmakers will have an opportunity to produce a project for one of the Comcast or NBCUniversal platforms under the mentorship of Justin Lin and other industry professionals.

The first Interpretations Initiative kicked off in the spring of 2010 with nine commissioned shorts by the likes of YouTube stars Wong Fu ProductionsDanny Pudi (NBC’s COMMUNITY), Far East Movement, and other industry professionals, to showcase the varied interpretations of the same script. In the end, over 275 shorts were submitted online and was whittled down to five winners.

Justin Lin. Photo by Lia Chang
Justin Lin. Photo by Lia Chang

“The first Interpretations Initiative was such a success that I am very excited to be launching it again and with a stronger fortitude to really make this more than just a contest but an opportunity to actually incubate potential careers for budding filmmakers.” says YOMYOMF founder Justin Lin, who is currently in post-production on his latest tentpole film, STAR TREK BEYOND (coming out this July). “Interpretations 2016 is a part of the bigger picture of YOMYOMF 2.0, where we want to establish and nurture an Asian American creative community of content creators and enthusiasts where ideas and collaboration is exchanged regularly and we can see what projects we can develop with emerging talent. I never had something like YOMYOMF when I first started my career. It’s an exciting time to be an emerging filmmaker.”

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

For this edition of Interpretations, the 4-line script was written by Tony Award winning playwright and screenwriter David Henry Hwang  (M BUTTERFLY, CHINGLISH, Showtime’s THE AFFAIR). “It’s not as easy as one would think to just come up with 4 lines of dialogue.” says Hwang. “The script needs to be broad and fluid enough so that one director could craft a comedy from it, another a speculative fiction story, another an action film, another an experimental work of animation, and so on.”

Here’s this year’s four-line script:
Don’t do that.
Of course.
I have my doubts.
What is it?

As lead sponsors for this year’s Interpretations Initiative, Comcast and NBCUniversal intend to support new talent and discover new opportunities for various elements of Comcast and NBCUniversal.

“We are always looking out for new talent and Interpretations is a fun and unique way to find these voices.” says Karen Horne, Senior Vice President of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion at NBCUniversal Television.” I am also honored to have Interpretations bookmarked with the launch at CAAMFest and ending in October at the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival, where we will present the final winning shorts.”

“Interpretations is a great way to form a community of Asian American content creators and filmmakers. We look forward to providing a platform that highlights this community by showcasing the short films on Xfinity Asia and Xfinity On Demand,” says Javier Garcia, Vice President and General Manager for Multicultural Consumer Services at Comcast.

“I am honored to be partnering with Comcast and NBCUniversal,” says Justin Lin. “We have the same like-minded goal to make Interpretations a scalable program that will help us identify emerging talent and work with them in sustainable way.”

And check out the winners and highlights from Interpretations 1.0 here. And if you want a refresher:

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. 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.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Justin Lin’s Short Film Contest for Asian American Filmmakers; David Henry Hwang Pens Script

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YouoffendmeYouoffendmyfamily.com (YOMYOMF), the blog and entertainment website devoted to Asian American culture founded by Hollywood director Justin Lin (BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, FAST AND FURIOUS series, STAR TREK BEYOND) has launched the second edition of the highly successful INTERPRETATIONS Initiative that was previously held in 2010 to find the next generation of Asian American filmmakers. Comcast and NBCUniversal are lead sponsors of the initiative.

Click here for the contest details.

What is Interpretations?
INTERPRETATIONS is a way of encouraging aspiring filmmakers to develop their own original and unique voice. All participants will “interpret” a four line script, and can produce and shoot it any way they wish. The only caveat is that the lines are static and must be in that order and the actual film itself is no more than 3 minutes long. Therefore, everyone is shooting their films from the same material and leveling the playing field in a way that traditional filmmaking competitions cannot. Three shorts will be selected from the entries and these winning filmmakers will have an opportunity to produce a project for one of the Comcast or NBCUniversal platforms under the mentorship of Justin Lin and other industry professionals.

The first Interpretations Initiative kicked off in the spring of 2010 with nine commissioned shorts by the likes of YouTube stars Wong Fu ProductionsDanny Pudi (NBC’s COMMUNITY), Far East Movement, and other industry professionals, to showcase the varied interpretations of the same script. In the end, over 275 shorts were submitted online and was whittled down to five winners.

Justin Lin. Photo by Lia Chang
Justin Lin. Photo by Lia Chang

“The first Interpretations Initiative was such a success that I am very excited to be launching it again and with a stronger fortitude to really make this more than just a contest but an opportunity to actually incubate potential careers for budding filmmakers.” says YOMYOMF founder Justin Lin, who is currently in post-production on his latest tentpole film, STAR TREK BEYOND (coming out this July). “Interpretations 2016 is a part of the bigger picture of YOMYOMF 2.0, where we want to establish and nurture an Asian American creative community of content creators and enthusiasts where ideas and collaboration is exchanged regularly and we can see what projects we can develop with emerging talent. I never had something like YOMYOMF when I first started my career. It’s an exciting time to be an emerging filmmaker.”

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

For this edition of Interpretations, the 4-line script was written by Tony Award winning playwright and screenwriter David Henry Hwang  (M BUTTERFLY, CHINGLISH, Showtime’s THE AFFAIR). “It’s not as easy as one would think to just come up with 4 lines of dialogue.” says Hwang. “The script needs to be broad and fluid enough so that one director could craft a comedy from it, another a speculative fiction story, another an action film, another an experimental work of animation, and so on.”

Here’s this year’s four-line script:
Don’t do that.
Of course.
I have my doubts.
What is it?

As lead sponsors for this year’s Interpretations Initiative, Comcast and NBCUniversal intend to support new talent and discover new opportunities for various elements of Comcast and NBCUniversal.

“We are always looking out for new talent and Interpretations is a fun and unique way to find these voices.” says Karen Horne, Senior Vice President of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion at NBCUniversal Television.” I am also honored to have Interpretations bookmarked with the launch at CAAMFest and ending in October at the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival, where we will present the final winning shorts.”

“Interpretations is a great way to form a community of Asian American content creators and filmmakers. We look forward to providing a platform that highlights this community by showcasing the short films on Xfinity Asia and Xfinity On Demand,” says Javier Garcia, Vice President and General Manager for Multicultural Consumer Services at Comcast.

“I am honored to be partnering with Comcast and NBCUniversal,” says Justin Lin. “We have the same like-minded goal to make Interpretations a scalable program that will help us identify emerging talent and work with them in sustainable way.”

INTERPRETATIONS Timeline & Website
With the kick-off being held at this year’s CAAMFest, the official call for entries begins March 31 and ends on June 17. Judging will commence in July and August with the announcement of the Top 15 on September 6, with online voting kicking off that day through October 6. The final 3 winners will be announced online on October 10 and they will be invited to attend the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival on October 19 at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Participants must be a resident of the United States of America and at least 13 years old.

Launch of Interpretations and YOMYOMF Presence at CAAMFest
Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) presents CAAMFest (formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival) is the world’s largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian film, food and music programs, annually presenting over 100 works in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. This year’s festival will be held from March 10 – 20, 2016.

YOMYOMF Presents: A Brave New Digital World
YOMYOMF will host a FREE panel discussion on Sunday, March 13, 1:30pm at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Here is a description of the panel:

With the success of digital platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, 2016 will see a record number of new digital services looking to fund/distribute content from and for diverse communities. This year has already seen or will see the launch of SVOD/AVOD/OTT platforms including NBC Seeso, CBS All Access, WatchABC, Comic Con, Warner Brothers TV, Verizon Go90, Fullscreen, YouTube Red, Seriously, Rated Red and others. In addition, filmmaker Justin Lin (FAST & FURIOUS franchise, upcoming STAR TREK BEYOND) and YOMYOMF will be launching Interpretations 2.0 with Comcast and NBCUniversal to discover the next wave of promising Asian Pacific American filmmakers. As traditional opportunities dry up for filmmakers, could digital become the new indie cinema? YOMYOMF talks to key players from the industry providing outlets for this new and sustainable content about the opportunities for Asian Pacific American content creators in the brave, new digital world.

Finalized industry panelists for this seminar are:

● Moderated by Anderson Le (Hawaii International Film Festival, YOMYOMF)

● Philip W Chung, Creative Director, YOMYOMF

● Karen Horne, Senior VP, Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Universal

● Pradeepa Jeeva, Development Director, Machinima

● Gary King, Jr, New Media content & Alternative Programming, Disney Digital

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT 10th Anniversary Screening
Critically acclaimed for its eye-popping, testosterone-filled driving sequences, the third installment in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS series is considered its biggest departure in theme and style. Troubled American teen Sean (Lucas Black) comes to Tokyo to live with his father and avoid punishment back home for his thrill-seeking ways. Sean befriends Twinkie (Shad Moss), who introduces him to Tokyo’s underground street racing scene and the dangerous world of drifting. Sean’s life becomes even more complicated as he learns how to master drifting from Han (Sung Kang) and challenges rival Takashi (Brian Tee) for the racing crown as he falls for Takashi’s girlfriend, Neela (Nathalie Kelley).

The 10th-anniversary celebration screening and Justin Lin’s return to CAAMFest, after showing BETTER LUCK TOMORROW in 2002, as part of the Interpretations Initiative kick-off and YOMYOMF is on on March 13, 9:30PM, at San Francisco’s new Alamo Drafthouse. Special guests from the film will be in attendance!

And check out the winners and highlights from Interpretations 1.0 here. And if you want a refresher:

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

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, which will screen at The Women’s Film Festival 2016 in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

CAAMFest 2016: PALI ROAD starring Michelle Chen, Jackson Rathbone, Sung Kang, Henry Ian Cusick, Tzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung Screens on Mar. 12

Jackson Rathbone and Michelle Chen in Pali Road
Jackson Rathbone and Michelle Chen in Pali Road

 Crimson Forest Entertainment (OTCBB: CRIM) is presenting the  the mystery thriller PALI ROAD at CAAMFest 2016 at the Alamo Drafthouse, 2550 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 9:10PM. Click here for tickets. The film will have its theatrical release on April 29th.

12658051_1876241662657215_7739090337491590125_oPALI ROAD stars Chinese superstar Michelle Chen, TWILIGHT’s Jackson Rathbone, Sung Kang (FAST FIVE, FAST & FURIOUS), Hawaii’s own Henry Ian Cusick (The 100, Lost), Tzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung.

Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma play husband and wife in the upcoming film Pali Road. Photo by Lia Chang
Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma play husband and wife in the upcoming film Pali Road. Photo by Lia Chang

Actors James Hong, Tzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung Talk Shop 

In-depth profile: In Conversation With Tzi Ma

Sung Kang in Pali Road
Sung Kang in Pali Road

PALI ROAD is a mesmerizing and chilling journey into the mystery of the human psyche and the power of love. Lily (Chen), a young doctor, wakes up from a car accident to discover she is now married to her boyfriend’s affluent rival, Dr. Mitch Kayne (Kang), has a five-year-old-son, and an established life she has no recollection of. Everyone around her, including her parents, deny that her boyfriend, Neil (Rathbone), ever existed, sending her on a desperate search for the truth. Determined to reclaim a life everyone insists is nothing more than an illusion, Lily eventually begins to doubt her own sanity. Struggling to overcome her seemingly hopeless situation, Lily endures a series of unexplainable and haunting incidents while bravely making her way to an ultimate mind-bending truth about the power of true love.

Shot entirely in Hawaii PALI ROAD is a story about the search for true love between two different worlds. Her search for the truth to her past life will lead her to question everyone around her and her entire existence.  PALI ROAD (aka Highway 61) is an idyllic, winding road through some of the most enchanting parts of Oahu and maintains an important if not infamous place in Hawaiian history. Being at the center of many of Oahu’s supernatural activities, it is said the road is haunted and various mysterious figures can be seen wandering the area at all hours. Numerous otherworldly sightings have been confirmed along Pali Road, both by longtime residents of the area as well as tourists who come from all over the world to visit the region.

PALI ROAD is produced by Daxing Zhang, Kenneth Burke, and Jonathan Lim. Executive Producers are Anthony Lim of Cuixing Media, Jon Chiew of Huace Media Group Grace Zhang and Geng Ling of Dadi Digital Cinema & China Film Assist, and Ricardo S. Galindez and Roy J. Tjioe of Island Film Group, based in Honolulu, Hawaii. This is the first project in a slate of three films that Crimson is co-producing with Dadi Digital Film, China Film Assist, and Cuixing Media Group who will distribute the film in China.

About Crimson Forest Entertainment
Crimson Forest Entertainment is a publicly traded, independent motion picture studio that finances and produces theatrical quality feature films and television series. Management’s experience in the China entertainment industry has allowed the company to successfully conceptualize, produce and distribute various film and television projects into the local Chinese market and to position itself as a valuable partner in the ever-growing Chinese theatrical marketplace.

For more information, visit the Crimson Forest Entertainment website at www.cfeg.tv.

GENERAL FESTIVAL INFORMATION
CAAMFest is a presentation of the Center for Asian American Media. CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), is a celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists. CAAMFest takes place March 10‐20, 2016 in the Bay Area. San Francisco venues include: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street; New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street; Alamo Drafthouse, 2550 Mission Street; Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street; Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, 2665 Mission Street; Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street; Slate Bar, 2925 16​Street; City College of San Francisco ‐ Chinatown/North Beach Campus, 808 Kearny Street; Chinese Historical Society of America, 965 Clay Street. Oakland venues include: The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street; Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak Street; SomaR Bar, 1727 Telegraph Avenue.

FESTIVAL TICKET INFORMATION
Pricing for all regular screenings: General admission tickets ‐ $14. Tickets for students, seniors (65+) and disabled adults ‐ $13 (Limit 1 per program with ID only). Tickets for Center for Asian American Media members ‐ $12 (Limit 2 per program per membership ID). Pricing excludes special events and galas. Tickets can be purchased online now and in‐person at our CAAMFest box office at Alamo Drafthouse starting Thursday, March 3, 2016.

About CAAMFest:
CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), takes place March 10‐20, 2016 in the Bay Area. CAAMFest is a celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists.

About CAAM:
CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) is a non‐profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. CAAM does this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media. For more information on CAAM, please visit www.caamedia.org.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

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, which will screen at The Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

TYRUS and His Legacy of Asian American Animation Kick Off Opening Night of CAAMFest 2016 on Mar. 10

CAAMFest 2016  kicks off on Thursday, March 10, 2016, at 7:00 pm with the Bay Area premiere of Pamela Tom’s TYRUS . The award‐winning documentary, showing at the majestic Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114, paints a beautifully intimate portrait of the 105‐year‐old subject Tyrus Wong, eloquently exploring his childhood, career, artistic legacy and the formation of what he views to be his greatest achievement, his family.

Tyrus Wong
Tyrus Wong

TYRUS, THE MAN
Wong is a living testament to the American Dream, and his fascinating story is full of relevance, hard work and passion. From his arrival at the Angel Island Immigration Station as a nine‐year‐old and his battle for identity in the workplace, to the evolution of his voice and legacy, Wong’s ups and downs have shaped the previously undiscovered man into the courageous, funny and wise visionary that he is today.

Wong’s presence at Opening Night makes the event all the more meaningful as we celebrate his story and works. Leading up to Opening Night, Wong will sign a recently rediscovered painting that had been unidentified for decades. Immediately after the screening, let inspiration lead you to the incomparable Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102, for the Opening Night Gala, where the painting will be on display. View the dazzling exhibit, H​idden Gold,​ as you indulge in sweet and savory creations, sip a signature cocktail and dance to music from Traktivist, experiencing the best of the Bay Area.

BAMBI
BAMBI

TYRUS, THE LEGACY
Tyrus Wong is a pioneering icon whose art has touched millions through films like REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and most famously, Disney’s BAMBI. His concept art provided the DNA for a distinct and unforgettable atmosphere in the Disney classic, and his legacy as an artist has helped pave the way for new media makers.

CAAMFest 2016 partners with Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Family Museum to present ASIAN AMERICANS IN ANIMATION, a special presentation inspired by the man himself, Tyrus Wong. The legacy of Wong has helped spawn new generations of artists and continues to this day. The ASIANS IN ANIMATION showcase kicks off with TYRUS and continues with BAMBI and THE SUPER STORY BEHIND “SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM.” Director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle discuss the magic and inspiration behind Pixar’s first lead character of color in the Oscar®‐nominated short, SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM.

“Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong,” – Retrospective of Disney Legend at MOCA 

FESTIVAL TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets for TYRUS Opening Night + Gala are $65 for general admission and $55 for Center for Asian American Media members. Pricing for all regular screenings: General admission tickets ‐ $14. Tickets for students, seniors (65+) and disabled adults ‐ $13 (Limit 1 per program with ID only). Tickets for Center for Asian American Media members ‐ $12 (Limit 2 per program per membership ID). Pricing excludes special events and galas. Tickets are available online. Tickets can be purchased in‐person at our CAAMFest box office at Alamo Drafthouse starting Thursday, March 3, 2016.

About CAAMFest:
CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), takes place March 10‐20, 2016 in the Bay Area. CAAMFest is a celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists.

About CAAM:
CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) is a non‐profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. CAAM does this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media. For more information on CAAM, please visit www.caamedia.org.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

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, which will screen at Asians on Film on March 10th, The Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

CAAMFest 2016 Lineup, Mar. 10 – 20, 2016

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is presenting CAAMFest, March 10‐20, 2016 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), CAAMFest is an 11‐day celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists.

This year the Festival welcomes the biggest change since its rebrand with fresh scenery in the Mission district. Joining Castro Theatre, New People Cinema and New Parkway Theater (Oakland), CAAM adds the venerable 106 year‐old Roxie Theater and the newly minted Alamo Drafthouse to its expansive slate of venues and neighborhoods. “Cultural preservation and innovation are core to CAAM’s mission. With both the Roxie and Alamo, we continue to elevate and explore this intersection of old and new, ” says Stephen Gong, CAAM’s Executive Director. “We’re excited to expand to the culturally‐rich Mission district and to continue our dynamic programs in film, music and food.”

CAAMFest showcases the work of new Asian and Asian American artists and pays tribute to the pioneers who have paved the way for Asian Americans in media and entertainment. From the rich cultural legacy of the opening film TYRUS, to the multi‐platform portfolio of local artist H.P. Mendoza, CAAMFest 2016 truly demonstrates the growing breadth of Asian American voices today.

OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHTS: TYRUS AND RIGHT FOOTED

Tyrus Wong
Tyrus Wong

TYRUS: C​AAMFest 2016 opens with an unforgettable cinematic experience, the Bay Area premiere of TYRUS. Directed by Pamela Tom, TYRUS is an i​nspirational documentary about the art, life, and enduring impact of 105 year­old pioneering Chinese American artist Tyrus Wong, b​est known for the conceptual artwork that gave Walt Disney’s Bambi its distinctive and unforgettable look. TYRUS will be shown at the majestic Castro Theatre, and is part of a special spotlight series, in partnership with Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Family Museum, ASIAN AMERICANS IN ANIMATION.

TYRUS and His Legacy of Asian American Animation Kick Off Opening Night of CAAMFest 2016 on Mar. 10

“Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong,” – Retrospective of Disney Legend at MOCA 

Immediately after the screening, let inspiration lead you to the incomparable Asian Art Museum for the Opening Night Gala. View the dazzling exhibit, H​idden Gold,​ as you indulge in sweet and savory creations, sip a signature cocktail and dance to music from Traktivist, experiencing the best of the Bay Area.

Jessica Cox in RIGHT FOOTED.
Jessica Cox in RIGHT FOOTED.

RIGHT FOOTED: CAAMFEST 2016 concludes in Oakland and with the Bay Area premiere of RIGHT FOOTED, an inspiring documentary about expert martial artist, disability rights activist and the world’s only armless airplane pilot, Filipina American Jessica Cox. Director Nick Spark explores Cox’s incredible journey as she overcomes adversity, finds romance and awakens hope in others around the world.

The closing night party is at  SomaR Bar, just a few blocks from The New Parkway.

CENTERPIECE PRESENTATIONS: A TALE OF THREE CITIES AND DAZE OF JUSTICE

A TALE OF THREE CITIES
A TALE OF THREE CITIES by Mabel Cheung

NARRATIVE:​A TALE OF THREE CITIES:​T​his year’s Centerpiece Narrative presentation comes from CAAMFest Spotlight filmmaker Mabel Cheung. Cheung’s A TALE OF THREE CITIES transports us to Hong Kong during the turbulent times of war in the 1930s and 1940s, focusing on an epic story of romance and tragedy between the real‐life parents of Jackie Chan. Starring Lau Ching‐wan (MAD DETECTIVE) and Tang Wei (LUST, CAUTION).

DAZE OF JUSTICE by Michael Siv
DAZE OF JUSTICE by Michael Siv

DOCUMENTARY: D​AZE OF JUSTICE:​T​he Centerpiece Documentary presentation brings a premiere from San Francisco’s own Michael Siv, DAZE OF JUSTICE. Siv, once a documentary subject himself (REFUGEE, SFIAAFF ‘03), follows Khmer Rouge survivors on a journey from the US to tribunals in Cambodia. The unraveling of unspeakable wounds breaks a decades‐long silence in this messy, and ultimately moving, process.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

BAMBI
BAMBI

ASIAN AMERICANS IN ANIMATION:​CAAMFest 2016 partners with Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Family Museum to present ASIAN AMERICANS IN ANIMATION, a special presentation inspired by the subject of Opening Night film TYRUS, Tyrus Wong. The legacy of Wong has helped inspire new generations of media makers and continues to this day. The ASIANS IN ANIMATION showcase kicks off with TYRUS and continues with BAMBI, which owes its visual DNA to Wong, and THE SUPER STORY BEHIND “SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM.” Director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle discuss the magic and inspiration behind Pixar’s first lead character of color in the Oscar®‐nominated short, SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM.

Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Vivian Wu in THE SOONG SISTERS by Mabel Cheung
Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Vivian Wu in THE SOONG SISTERS by Mabel Cheung

SPOTLIGHT: MABEL CHEUNG:​ Mabel Cheung is one of Hong Kong’s most prominent directors. Her international acclaim reflects over 30 years of award‐winning works, beginning with her “Migration Trilogy.” CAAMFest presents two of Cheung’s influential films: her newest feature and CAAMFest’s Centerpiece Narrative A TALE OF THREE CITIES, chronicling the epic love story of Jackie Chan’s parents and THE SOONG SISTERS, originally released in 1997 and considered one of the highlights of Cheung’s career. The true story, starring Maggie Cheung (HERO), Michelle Yeoh (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) and Vivian Wu (THE LAST EMPEROR), explores the three fascinating sisters whose high‐profile marriages, celebrity status and family ties elevated them to positions of wealth and power, profoundly shaping Chinese history in the early 20th century.

COLMA: THE MUSICAL
COLMA: THE MUSICAL

SPOTLIGHT: H.P. MENDOZA:​Director, writer, actor, producer, musician and CAAMFest alum H.P. Mendoza is a local treasure. Born and raised in San Francisco and currently living in the Mission District, Mendoza’s diverse portfolio includes the FRUIT FLY (SFIAAFF ‘09) and I AM A GHOST (SFIAAFF ‘12), as well as a highlight, COLMA: THE MUSICAL. To celebrate the 10‐year anniversary of COLMA: THE MUSICAL, CAAMFest will be reuniting many of the cast for an unforgettable, profanity‐laced sing‐along. Mendoza will also kick off the Asian Art Museum’s new series, TAKEOVER, where he will host a one‐night event and party at the museum, mashing up his preoccupations with musicals, horror films, 8‐bit games and virtual reality.

PACIFIC ISLANDERS IN COMMUNICATIONS PRESENTS: PACIFIC SHOWCASE

MELE MURALS by Tadashi Nakamura
MELE MURALS by Tadashi Nakamura

MELE MURALS:​Tadashi Nakamura’s world premiere of MELE MURALS looks beyond the obvious beauty of the Hawaiian Islands to the deep connections among the local community. Local artist Estria Miyashiro and with fellow artist John Hina travel to the rural town of Waimea, HI, where they attempt to connect ancient Hawaiian traditions and graffiti with the youth of tomorrow. MELE MURALS will be part of CAAMFest’s return to the great Oakland Museum of California, which will capture the intersection of Pacific Island and Bay Area culture.

FAMILY INGREDIENTS by Ty Sanga
FAMILY INGREDIENTS by Ty Sanga

FAMILY INGREDIENTS:​Continuing the theme of Hawaiian culture is a celebration of food and family with Ty Sanga’s FAMILY INGREDIENTS. Chef Ed Kenney takes us on a culinary adventure, exploring traditional Hawaiian foods p​oi​ (a paste‐like dish made from taro) and pipikaula ​(salted dried beef) and how they have influenced culture in the Aloha State.

SONS OF HALAWA by Matt Yamashita
SONS OF HALAWA by Matt Yamashita

SONS OF HALAWA:​Filmmaker Matt Yamashita’s new film, SONS OF HALAWA, follows subject Pilipo Solatorio, the last native Hawaiian from Halawa, on a search for someone to learn and pass ancient traditions to future generations before they vanish with him. (Preceded by short, ROOTS OF ‘ULU)

MACHINE WITH WISHBONE by Randall Lloyd Okita
MACHINE WITH WISHBONE by Randall Lloyd Okita

IN CONVERSATION WITH RANDALL OKITA
Canadian artist Randall Okita’s diverse portfolio blends sculpture, cinematography, technology and even stunt work. CAAM welcomes Okita to present many of his short films and to share his experiences and influences with attendees. Shorts in the program include: MACHINE WITH WISHBONE, FISH IN BARREL, NO CONTRACT, PORTRAIT AS A RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE and THE WEATHERMAN AND THE SHADOWBOXER.

ADDITIONAL SPECIAL EVENTS

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT by Justin Lin
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT by Justin Lin

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (10­Year Anniversary):​Justin Lin’s entry to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise has been considered the biggest thematic departure in the series. In partnership with Wild 94.9 and You Offend Me, You Offend My Family (YOMYOMF), CAAMFest welcomes back THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT to the big screen for its 10‐year anniversary. Revisit the high‐octane ride set in the underground world of Tokyo’s street racing scene. With special guests in attendance!

BE ABOUT IT by Christopher C.C. Wong
BE ABOUT IT by Christopher C.C. Wong

COMMUNITY SCREENINGS, YOUTH WORKSHOPS, AND A SNEAK PEEK:​Two Community Screenings capture and address impactful subjects and ideas this year. The world premiere of Christopher C.C. Wong’s poignant documentary, BE ABOUT IT, examines life‐altering and day‐to‐day moments of two Bay Area men, reporter Alan Wang and athlete AJ Jabonero, both living with hepatitis B, and the reach and cost of the infection in the Asian American community.

EVERYTHING WILL BE by Julia Kwan
EVERYTHING WILL BE by Julia Kwan

EVERYTHING WILL BE, directed by award‐winning Julia Kwan, follows the fading light of Vancouver’s Chinatown, exploring the loss of history at the expense of modern trends. Youth Workshops continue at CAAMFest with familiar ideas in existing and fresh settings.

MUSLIM YOUTH VOICES by Musa Syeed
MUSLIM YOUTH VOICES by Musa Syeed

In its 2nd year as a signature CAAM program, MUSLIM YOUTH VOICES follows acclaimed filmmaker Musa Syeed as he helps young people craft their unique stories disintegrating the borders built on stereotypes.

1990 Institute: Youth Voices on China1990 INSTITUTE: YOUTH VOICES ON CHINA is the culmination of an ongoing online video contest that cultivates global awareness within young American communities.

Frank Wong’s Chinatown (working title) by James Q. Chan
Frank Wong’s Chinatown (working title) by James Q. Chan

Catch a sneak peek of local artist and CAAM alum James Q. Chan’s work‐in‐progress, CAAM‐funded documentary, FRANK WONG’S CHINATOWN (Working Title), which highlights the fascinating story of 81‐year‐old Frank Wong, a self‐taught artist who has created extraordinarily detailed miniature models of San Francisco’s Chinatown from his fading memories.

MEMORIES TO LIGHT: CHINESE AMERICAN HOME MOVIES: F​or the fourth CAAMFest iteration of our innovative home movie initiative, we are excited to present a compilation of Chinese American home movies from the 1930s through the 1970s, with live musical accompaniment by acclaimed jazz musician Francis Wong. Memories to Light is a project that collects and digitizes home movies — and the stories they tell — to share with the broad public.

PANELS
An interactive highlight of each CAAMFest is our series of Panels, and 2016 is no exception with discussions on the ever‐changing world of media and how Asian Americans are increasing visibility and opportunity in the broadcast and streaming universe.

MASTER OF NONE:​Golden Globe‐nominated Netflix series MASTER OF NONE has had critics and viewers binge‐watching every episode and thirsting for more. Series co‐creator Alan Yang and cast member Kelvin Yu will be stopping by CAAMFest for a panel on the award‐winning show. Yang and Yu will divulge juicy details on the show’s inspiration and production as well as their own experiences in an industry full of both opportunity and obstacle.

CHANGING THE CHANNEL ON GENDER ROLES:​CAAMFest will explore the bane of existence for many Asian American actors: typecasting. For Asian American women and men looking for work, roles can be severely limited and stereotyped, especially when it comes to appearing as a character intended (or specifically not intended) for romance. Featuring actress V​ella Lovell and B​ay Area native, Filipino‐American actor Vincent Rodriguez III from the hit series CRAZY EX‐GIRLFRIEND. Rodriguez and Lovell join other actors and filmmakers (TBA) to discuss the gradually changing landscape for gender roles and what they hope the future holds.

A BRAVE NEW DIGITAL WORLD:​As online platforms like Netflix and Amazon continue to grow mainstream media, 2016 will see a record number of new digital services looking to fund and distribute content from and for diverse communities. Pradeepa Jeeva and Philip W. Chung of You Offend Me, You Offend My Family (YOMYOMF) will speak with key industry players to explore the shift to digital for many artists seeking opportunity.

DIRECTIONS IN SOUND: MUSIC AND FILM
For over 11 years, Directions in Sound has been the Festival’s premier Asian and Asian American music gathering of emerging and cutting‐edge artists. Highlighting leading Asian American musicians, Directions in Sound exposes the Bay Area to innovative artists from the underground music scene. This year’s program brings back Directions in Sound: Korean Showcase, featuring international groups dripping with rhythmic and vocal talents: Big Phony, HEO, WYM and Love X Stereo.

Once again, CAAMFest follows the live beats to the silver screen to find music‐centric films that add a visual layer to the sounds that accompany them. Making its West Coast premiere, Jonathan Yi’s & Michael Haertlein’s MAD TIGER chronicles the relationship between two Japanese bandmates, Peelander‐Yellow and Peelander‐Red, as their friendship is tested and both seek greater meaning in their lives through their art and relationship with each other. In NO LAND’S SONG, Iranian director Ayat Najafi chronicles his sister Sara’s grim outlook on the fading presence of women in music, and her journey in reviving the female voice in music and culture.

San Francisco’s very own Kollaboration joins forces with CAAMFest for the yearly Social Club event at Slate Bar in the heart of the Mission District. Join filmmakers, artists and fellow attendees to hang out, celebrate and unwind in good company. Featuring R&B soul group The Delivery, vocal soloist Jayne Rio, Korean‐American R&B singer Lawrence Park and ambient soul duo AstraLogik.

NARRATIVE AND DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

JASMINE by Dax Phelan
JASMINE by Dax Phelan

A visual feast of themes and stories await in this year’s Narrative Competition, including GOOD OL’ BOY (dir. Frank Lotito), a charming, nostalgia‐filled story of a young Indian boy’s cultural journey in small town America; CRUSH THE SKULL (dir. Viet Nguyen) the campy horror story of a robbery‐gone‐wrong when the thieves make the worst choice in houses to steal from; and GRASS (dir. Tanuj Chopra), a smoke‐filled stoner comedy following a dynamic duo of friends on their adventures in the park over one day. Other competition films include PALI ROAD (dir. Jonathan Lim), equal parts drama, thriller and mystery, a woman tries to uncover the truth when she awakens from an accident with memories of a life that no one else believes to be real; JASMINE (dir. Dax Phelan) the psychological thriller exploring one man’s obsession with a stranger whom he believes murdered his late wife; and TWO LUNES (dir. Hui‐Eun Park), two tales of experiences that immigrant women encounter during their new lives in Los Angeles and Vietnam.

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Interview with Jason Tobin, star of Dax Phelan’s JASMINE, Screening at CAAMFest 2016 on Mar. 14th

CAAMFest 2016: PALI ROAD starring Michelle Chen, Jackson Rathbone, Sung Kang, Henry Ian Cusick Tzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung Screens on Mar. 12 

Actors James Hong, Tzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung Talk Shop

Unique perspectives communicate through six films in this year’s Documentary Competition. Films include BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY (dir. Ben Wang), the local story of prisoner, immigrant, son and activist Eddy Zheng, and his journey to redemption; PAINTED NAILS (dir. Dianne Griffin & Erica Jordan) a film about a San Francisco‐based nail salon owner whose work‐related health issues helped fuel a movement for safer salons in general; and MELE MURALS (dir. Tadashi Nakamura), a Hawaiian story following artists’ attempts to combine graffiti and ancient traditions in an effort to carry them to future generations. Also included: DRAWING THE TIGER (dir. Amy Benson, Scott Squire & Ramyata Limbu) an observation of a Nepalese family’s actions and hopes to send their daughter away for a better education turning into their own tragedy; NINTH FLOOR (dir. Mina Shum), the story of the 1969 Sir George Williams riot in Canada that put racial tensions in the spotlight (preceded by short, RACIAL FACIAL); and OPERATION POPCORN (dir. David Grabias), a film following a Hmong man’s rise in his community and the results of his efforts to help other Hmong people fight off attacks from the communist Lao government.

BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY by Ben Wang
BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY by Ben Wang

CINEMASIA
A collection of some of the best international Asian films, CinemAsia explores a vibrant scope of themes and ideas that cross all borders. This year showcases films from Singapore, Iran, Vietnam, India and many more destinations. Highlights include: YELLOW FLOWERS ON GREEN GRASS (dir. Victor Vu) a box office hit exploring the tests on bonds between two Vietnamese brothers against a beautifully pastoral backdrop; 3688 (dir. Royston Tan) a Singaporean musical dramedy following a woman honoring her dementia‐ridden father by competing in a singing competition; KAMPAI: FOR THE LOVE OF SAKE (dir. Mirai Konishi) a documentary following sake connoisseurs on their quest to learn more about the industry behind the rich and complex cultural staple in Japan and across the world; and UMRIKA (dir. Prashant Nair) a mix of drama, warmth, and bittersweetness as a small town in India lives vicariously through postcards written to them from one of their own, and then shifts focus as the postcards stop and the traveller’s brother leaves to find him. Also in the program: FRANCE IS OUR MOTHER COUNTRY (dir. Rithy Panh) a piece that examines the French occupation of Cambodia, touching on the tragedy brought on by brute force during colonialism; ATOMIC HEART (dir. Ali Ahmadzadeh) an surreal Iranian film that follows two friends on a night of drinking, political commentary and mystery when the friends are visited by an otherworldly figure; IN THE ROOM (dir. Eric Khoo) Singapore’s first erotic film visits the same dilapidated hotel room through several decades of encounters; KID KULAFU (dir. Paul Soriano) the story behind real‐life champion boxer Manny Pacquiao as he overcame obstacles as a child in the Philippines and found his fighting spirit; THE KIDS (dir. Sunny Yu) a Taiwanese tale of one man’s undoing that follows how love and sacrifice are intertwined; THE NAME OF THE WHALE (dir. Fumito Fujikawa) an angst‐filled story about a Japanese boy who grows into himself while dealing with family, friends and school‐assigned whale fossil‐hunting; PLEASE REMEMBER ME (dir. Zhao Qing) a poignant documentary about a Chinese man tending his Alzheimer’s‐stricken wife with compassionate loyalty; THE ROYAL TAILOR (dir. Lee‐Won Suk) a South Korean period piece where rivals battle in the realm of fashion and skill to be the king’s tailor; THANATOS, DRUNK (dir. Tso‐Chi Chang) an exploration of love and loss in Taiwan, set around a dysfunctional family; and YEU(LOVE) (dir. Viet Max) the first mainstream LGBTQ Vietnamese film, witnessing the change from friendship to love between two women.

CAAMFEST IN OAKLAND
CAAM is thrilled to continue a third year of programs in Oakland, kicking off with the Festival’s return to the great Oakland Museum of California with a program capturing the intersection of Pacific Island and Bay Area culture including the world premiere of Tad Nakamura’s documentary, MELE MURALS. The CAAMFest concludes with a full weekend of programming at the New Parkway Theater.

WORLD PREMIERES
BE ABOUT IT, Christopher C.C. Wong, USA, 2015
THE BOARDWALK, Ougie Park, USA 2015
BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY, Ben Wang, USA, 2015 CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA, King Lu, USA, 2015
DAZE OF JUSTICE, Michael Siv, USA, 2015
DONUT SHOP, Robert Riutta, USA, 2015
GOOD Ol’ BOY, Frank Lotito, USA, 2015
GRASS, Tanuj Chopra, USA, 2015
PARACHUTE GIRLS, Alex Rubens, USA, 2015
RACIAL FACIAL, Jeff Adachi, USA, 2016

SPONSORS
CAAMFest is supported in part by the following: Xfinity, Asian Art Museum, AT&T DIRECTV, Western Union, AARP, Cooper White & Cooper LLP, Fitness SF, Pacific Islanders in Communications, Pacific Standard Print, Remy Martin, San Francisco Symphony, Umpqua Bank, 1990 Institute, Girl Friday Events, SAG‐AFTRA, University of San Francisco, Consulate General of Canada, Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco, Japan Foundation, Los Angeles, National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, Hotel Tax Fund, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

GENERAL FESTIVAL INFORMATION
CAAMFest is a presentation of the Center for Asian American Media. CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), is a celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists. CAAMFest takes place March 10‐20, 2016 in the Bay Area. San Francisco venues include: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street; New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street; Alamo Drafthouse, 2550 Mission Street; Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street; Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, 2665 Mission Street; Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street; Slate Bar, 2925 16​Street; City College of San Francisco ‐ Chinatown/North Beach Campus, 808 Kearny Street; Chinese Historical Society of America, 965 Clay Street. Oakland venues include: The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street; Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak Street; SomaR Bar, 1727 Telegraph Avenue.

FESTIVAL TICKET INFORMATION
Pricing for all regular screenings: General admission tickets ‐ $14. Tickets for students, seniors (65+) and disabled adults ‐ $13 (Limit 1 per program with ID only). Tickets for Center for Asian American Media members ‐ $12 (Limit 2 per program per membership ID). Pricing excludes special events and galas. Tickets can be purchased online now and in‐person at our CAAMFest box office at Alamo Drafthouse starting Thursday, March 3, 2016.

About CAAMFest:
CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), takes place March 10‐20, 2016 in the Bay Area. CAAMFest is a celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists.

About CAAM:
CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) is a non‐profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. CAAM does this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media. For more information on CAAM, please visit www.caamedia.org.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

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, which will screen at Asians on Film on March 10th, The Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

Interview with Jason Tobin, star of Dax Phelan’s JASMINE, Screening at CAAMFest 2016 on Mar. 14th

Jason Tobin will be featured in two films at CAAMfest 2016 – Dax Phelan’s award-winning film Jasmine which also stars Glen Chin, Grace Huang, Sarah Lian, Byron Mann and Eugenia Yuan, and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, directed by Justin Lin.

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Jasmine screens in competition at CAAMFest on March 14th, 2016 at the Alamo Drafthouse, 2550 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA at 6:20 p.m. Click here for tickets.

Jason Tobin, Dax Phelan (writer/producer/director), Chris Chan Lee (editor/producer), Jon Anderson (executive producer) and David Tsuboi (associate producer), will be in attendance for the Jasmine Q & A that follows the screening.

Keiko Kitagawa as Reiko and Jason Tobin as Earl in Justin Lin's 'The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift'. Photo: © 2006 Universal Studios
Keiko Kitagawa as Reiko and Jason Tobin as Earl in Justin Lin’s ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’. Photo: © 2006 Universal Studios

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift will unspool as a special presentation at CAAMFest on March 13th, 2016  at the Alamo Drafthouse, 2550 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA at 9:40pm. Click here for tickets.

Leonard To (Jason Tobin) is a man who is struggling to come to terms with the unsolved murder of his beloved wife, Jasmine. After more than a year, he decides to come back to Hong Kong and move on with his life. He searches for a new job, attends group grief support meetings, and reconnects with Grace, a woman from his past. While he still calls the police, hoping Jasmine’s murder case will be resolved, Leonard does seem to start life anew.

A scene from Dax Phelan's JASMINE
A scene from Dax Phelan’s JASMINE

On the first anniversary of Jasmine’s death, Leonard visits her burial site and crosses paths with a mysterious man, who Leonard becomes convinced is a prime suspect for his beloved wife’s death. Leonard decides to investigate and follow this man, in hopes of finding connections to his wife’s murder, and reports the man to the police. However, when the police fail to arrest the man, Leonard realizes that the only way for him to stop his own fiery downward spiral and move on with his life once and for all is to take matters into his own hands. The result: a shocking and unforgettable final revelation.

Dax Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang

In his directorial debut, Dax Phelan keeps us on an edge of our seats and takes us on a roller-coaster ride with his star-studded cast and crew. With a strong character-driven narrative and constant suspense all set in the bustling city of Hong Kong, Dax Phelan creates a story that is bold, riveting, and shocking with a theme that is universally relatable to anyone who has ever loved and anyone who has ever suffered. Jasmine is dedicated to Dax Phelan’s mother.

Jason Tobin. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin. Photo by Lia Chang

Jason Tobin is a Hong Kong actor and producer who co-wrote, co-produced and stars in Jasmine.  He is best known for his role as Virgil Hu in Justin Lin’s critically acclaimed 2002 film Better Luck Tomorrow (BLT)The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, #1 Serial Killer and Chris Chan Lee’s Yellow. In our interview over Skype, Tobin talks about the making of Jasmine, the challenges of low budget filmmaking in Hong Kong, and being a part of the Independent Asian American cinema scene including Better Luck Tomorrow.

Below is my interview with Jason Tobin.

Chang: How did you get into acting?
Tobin: I was 18. I had finished high school and was supposed to go to University in the UK. At that point, I didn’t know you could become an actor. I literally thought being an actor was a lark. I didn’t realize you could study to be an actor and try to get the job. I just didn’t understand. In high school, you are studying to go to law school or become a doctor, that ‘s your job. When I was 18, my father recognized that I loved movies and liked acting. He showed me an advertisement for an acting class in Hong Kong and I went to it. I was done for. Six months later, instead of going to university in the UK, I packed my bags up and moved to LA.

t16763gy719Chang: What have been your favorite projects?
Tobin: The Asian American features that I’ve done- Yellow with Chris Chan Lee, followed by Better Luck Tomorrow, #1 Serial Killer, Finishing the Game and now Jasmine. When I look at my body of work, I am really proud to have done these Asian American features.In my whole life I always wanted to be part of something important. I feel that having worked in these Asian American films that not only did it satisfy my creative urges as a performer and as an actor, they also satisfied me because I felt like I was part of something important. If I have somehow contributed to Asian American cinema and helped move it forward, you can’t pay for that. That’s a deep sense of satisfaction that you can’t get anywhere else.

Chang: You said, ‘Asian American cinema is where I belong; it is where I want to be.
Tobin: Obviously I lived in America, so I have a lot of friends who are Asian American actors or filmmakers. We frequently talk about how we want to be part of the mainstream. Why can’t they cast more Asians where they don’t have to be the Kung Fu fighter, or have to explain their Asianness? There’s all the talk about wanting to get into the mainstream. I’ve caught myself speaking in those terms too. Several years ago, it occurred to me that I don’t even feel comfortable working in that arena. Younger actors can speak with a lot of bravura. I am happy to stay within my community, my culture, making films that are important to us. To me at least. I’m never going to be a Caucasian man; I’m never going to be a black man. I’m never going to be French or Jewish. I am a Chinese, English speaking guy. I am really happy with that. The stories that I am interested in telling, I have always felt like a bird between two trees. Trying to fit in.

Chang: Are you working on something now?
Tobin: It’s a story about these two down and out Asian American actors who are completely unemployed and can’t get hired at all. They decide to go on a road trip to visit Bruce Lee’s grave in Seattle. That’s the premise. We’ll be shooting that in 2016.

I am working on a Martial arts film. It is not going to be an action packed martial arts film. It is going to be sparse, when you see it, it will be important. I talk about it like a martial arts film – meets American indie film. It’s another thing that we always talk about in Asian American cinema, why do we always have to be the martial arts guy? I completely understand that sentiment, and even though I have practiced martial arts my whole life, and watch so many martial arts film and am a massive Bruce Lee fan, as an actor I always steered clear of it. I wanted to be taken seriously as an actor. I’m getting older, I love the genre, I better do one now before I get older.

finishing-the-game-movie-poster-2008-1020406341I dipped my toes into martial arts films with Justin Lin’s Finishing the Game, the premise is that it’s a mockumentary and I am not in the film. I was cut out. My character Toby Jackson is not in America. The documentarian is in LA and as originally scripted, they would cut to me in Mexico as an underground street fighter, trying to get back into America. He can’t get back in so he’s becomes part of this underground fight club.I was in the best shape of my life, 4% body fat. After the shoot, Justin Lin came up to me at the end of the day and told me that this was the best acting he had ever seen me do. Several months later he calls me in Hong Kong, and says, “I love the footage It’s some of my favorite stuff we shot but I just can’t make the footage work in the film. It just doesn’t make sense.” It was heartbreaking. He says I’ll give you all the footage.

This is the impetus for this Bruce Lee road trip story. They are huge Bruce Lee fans, and one has just been cut out of the film where he’s playing a Bruce Lee type character. Finishing the Game was an important film for me even though I am not in it. Art director Candy Guitterez designed the poster and used a ghost image of me in the poster. It’s my face on the poster with all of the other Bruce Lees layered on top.

Han (Sung Kang), Virgil (Jason J. Tobin) and Ben (Parry Shen) are overachieving high school honor students in Orange County who live second lives at night as a gang responsible for criminal mischief in Better Luck Tomorrow. Photo: MTV Films
Han (Sung Kang), Virgil (Jason J. Tobin) and Ben (Parry Shen) are overachieving high school honor students in Orange County who live second lives at night as a gang responsible for criminal mischief in Better Luck Tomorrow. Photo: MTV Films

Chang: What was your experience with Better Luck Tomorrow?
Tobin: Better Luck Tomorrow was a blessing and an Asian American powerhouse. The gift that keeps on giving. I’ve gotten so much out of that film. When I was in LA at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, I met actors from Revenge of the Green Dragon and Soul Searching. They told me that because of BLT, they were really inspired by me. You can’t pay for that.  Every time I go back to America and I hear about the importance of that films in their lives, it validates me for all of the hardships of being an actor. An actor’s life is full of ups and downs.

BLT shook things up. My audition was on a Sunday, I was feeling jaded but luckily I went to it.  After one or two scenes, we improved and it was cool and fun. When I read the script I was blown away. This is the kind of role, specifically with my character,  an unbelievable role. This is the kind of role that makes careers, that wins Oscars. He’s such a live wire, shows such vulnerability. If this film were cast as a non Asian American film, Virgil would not have been the white guy. I felt incredibly lucky. The third day of shooting, I turned to Roger and said that this movie is a gift. This is a blessing. I am so lucky to be on this film. I have felt that throughout the whole journey.

I am a British citizen and in 2002 we’d gone to Sundance with Better Luck Tomorrow. The film hadn’t been released yet, so I went on vacation to Argentina. On my way back to America I was denied entry. Even though I had been in and out of America many, many times, for some reason, post 9/11 things were computerized and the infraction that I had overstayed my visa by 5 days several years earlier, showed up. They said I had to go back to the UK and reapply for a visa. A lot of people took that to be that I was deported but I wasn’t. It just meant that my Visa application was rejected. It meant that I spent a few years away right when BLT came out. Many people thought that I should have been there to capitalize on the success. I watched BLT’s success from afar.

better_luck_tomorrowI wasn’t there for the poster. That actually is not my body. The day of the photo shoot, the cast had a body double for me. They took my head from another picture and stuck it on. It was sad but I have no regrets. I spent a year in Argentina, learning guitar, learning Spanish. After a year of that I thought I better go back to work. Being a British citizen, I went to London, did a couple of movies, and TV shows. As much as I enjoyed working in the UK I was still an Asian man, an Asian person working in a predominantly white country. I’ve done this before; I’ve fought this battle before. I decided it was time for me to go back to Hong Kong and find a different challenge.

Jason Tobin and his wife Michelle. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin and his wife Michelle. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: What is your experience of being Eurasian?
Tobin: I am from Hong Kong and have always loved Hong Kong, but I also have a love hate relationship with it. I am a real product of Hong Kong. I constantly get asked why my English is so good? They don’t understand the history of Hong Kong, that there is a British colony, with two school systems, Chinese speaking and English speaking, and that I’m Eurasian. My Father is white, a British guy; my mother is Chinese, a Cantonese woman from Hong Kong. I wanted to use as much of myself and even to the extent when we meet Leonard at the beginning of the film, he’s come back from somewhere, he’s been away. If you notice my accent changes quite a bit. In America, me as Jason, I grew up speaking Cantonese, speaking English, I went to a British School so I learned to speak English with an English accent. Subsequently I went to America, and learned to speak with an American accent. I spend time in Australia because my wife is a naturalized Australian, so frequently my accent changes depending on who I am talking too. If I am in America and speaking to American people, I am going to sound more American. When I am home and with family, I sound more British. It’s not phony either way. It’s just comfort. I don’t feel comfortable sounding like an American when I am talking to my dad. It doesn’t feel right. I brought little things like that to the character. Aussie, American, added something to Leonard, where is he from? It adds to the fact that he’s trying to be something that is not.

Chang: Dax said, “I wanted to go on record that I would be the first one to make a movie with Jason as the lead.” What is your response to that?
Tobin: I’m unbelievable grateful for Dax’s belief in me because no one else has done that. It really flatters me that he felt that strongly about me as an actor and as a performer.

It is tough to make a film, especially when you have very little money. It’s easy to test your relationship. Our relationship, thank goodness is all the better for it. We’re still friends. It’s something special when someone believes sin you.

Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin and Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin and Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How did you and Dax first meet?
Tobin: I had just got back to Hong Kong. I had just worked with Byron on a film and we really hit it off. We hung out a bit and he told me that he had a friend in town, a screenwriter named Dax Phelan. They were working on a project. We had dinner one night. Dax and I talked a lot about films, the kind of films that we liked, and the kind of actors we liked. A few months later in LA we met for coffee and talked about doing a movie together. Just getting to know him in Hong Kong, spending time with him in Hong Kong, it was very much the kind of relationship that I’ve always wanted to have with a director. As an actor, I’ve always wanted to have the kind of actor/director relationships like Scorsese and DeNiro back in the day, or Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris. In many ways Dax and I did have that relationship. We really got to know each other. We talked about things that I’ve never really spoken to another director before. We spent a long time talking about things, we spoke about things that we were deeply ashamed of, things that we felt truly embarrassed us, moments in our life that we were not proud or happy to speak of. We had that level of trust. That played into the story of Jasmine.

Chang: How did you and Dax develop the story together?
Tobin: Jasmine is not autobiographical. It did not happen to me and Dax. We did, however, try to channel as much of the loneliness and deep seeded shame.

In terms of the process of writing; I really wanted to use as many aspects of myself as possible. I wanted make the kind of a film that was really organic as possible, and to try and act the way it was organic. I wanted to use as much of myself as possible, whether it be pain, death, or loneliness that I felt in my own life. With regards to my character Leonard, my father’s name is Anthony Leonard Tobin, So I used my father’s middle name. To is actually my Cantonese name, even though my surname is Tobin.

I had never played an adult. I’d always played young people, college age. For the most part, I’d always played very young. Jasmine was an opportunity for me to channel certain aspects of my father. I’m not saying my father is Leonard To. There are all these aspects that I wanted to bring truth to the character. Dax already had an idea, about this unreliable investigator, narrator, and protagonist. To me, I had a lot of feelings that I had about Hong Kong, growing up here, certain isolation, even though it is a massive city and population. There is something about him- the clothes don’t fit him; the suit does not fit him. He’s always the outsider. There is a wealth gap, an elitist gap, the very elite Hong Kong, and people that are trying to be that. That is something I can relate to.

Chang: Why was the scene in the hotel room the scariest day of Dax’s life?
Tobin: We were shooting at Chungking Mansion. (Chungking Express). I think Wong Kar Wai may have grown up there. It’s a very seedy, rundown building and not the cleanest or safest building in Hong Kong. It’s pretty disgusting and full of life. It’s really, really fascinating. We ended up shooting in a very cheap low budget hostel on the 10th floor.

The scene that day was that Leonard was having a very very tough night. Leonard can get though the days because he is interacting with people, but the nights were problematic because that is when the loneliness would overtake him. This is the scene where he is alone in his room at Chungking Mansion. We did a lot of long takes. Improvisational- a lot of it was about behavior, how he spent his time. We start rolling as the scene progressed and he begins to spiral out of control. I started to do things that weren’t in the script. At one point, I opened the window. I was completely naked. I opened the window and stepped out the window and was on the ledge. And Dax said cut! Dax was terrified that I was going to jump. In that instant I knew I had perhaps gone too far as an actor. That was a very risky thing, not a safe thing to do. It really hit a chord in me. I just started crying and bawling my eyes out uncontrollably for half an hour. I stood in the room. It was just me, Guy and Dax and it was deathly silently. They just filmed me for a good 20-30 minutes, crying. That became a 3 second shot in the movie.

Dax and I had talked about Martin Sheen having a mental breakdown in Apocalypse Now. I’m not trying to compare myself to those kind of actors. We had talked about DeNiro, Marlon Brando, and Martin Sheen, so I wanted to step up. I wanted to push myself as much as I could. In that instant it really hit a chord in me. It made me think that my life did flash before me. It made me extremely, extremely sad. In a sense, that is the essence of Leonard To.

Chang: What character does Hong Kong play in the film? 
Tobin: I grew up in Hong Kong. I spent my life living in American, studying to be an actor. I spent a long time as this Asian guy working in a white country and trying to break through that barrier. I felt proud to be part of this Asian American wave of film. I always felt like I fought the good fight. I was glad to be part of Yellow and that whole movement. There was a part of me that wanted to come back to my hometown and make a film here.

In Hong Kong, I’m not local enough, I’m too westernized. Hong Kong movies are always about Hong Kong people. Very rarely are they about people like me who are English speakers. I wanted to make a film in my subculture. I wanted to use that aspect of myself. I wanted to tell this story. I’d always felt this sort of isolation living in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a big city, but it feels small, like a little village because it is such tiny bit of land. There’s something about the extreme wealth and elitist that is here and also this huge working class population. It’s like a microcosm of America. There’s this great wealth divide. Byron’s character represents the rich, powerful, that have everything, beautiful women, there’s Leonard who can’t fit in. he want it so bad and he can’t have it. He’s trying to fit into his suit. He’s trying to be something that he is not. Even though I am not Leonard To, I can relate to that. As an actor, I sometimes feel as if I am just an imposter. It is something that I wanted to explore.

Chang: What are the challenges of low budget filmmaking in Hong Kong?
Tobin: Low budget filmmaking is challenging regardless of where you are. If you are trying to shoot a film without permits, and you are trying to use real locations, Hong Kong is such a populated city that wherever you stick your camera, someone will be looking right into it. In LA, you can always find a street that is relatively quiet. You wait until people walk by, and you have it for a few minutes. In Hong Kong, you literally have three seconds before someone else starts looking in the camera. We did many, many takes. The other thing that was particularly difficult about our shoot, at the time, we were using the Red One camera. I believe at the time the native ISO wasn’t particularly fast. It is handheld with a wide lens, an unbelievably short lens with a very shallow depth of field. With the aperture wide open, just keeping me in focus was extremely difficult. The film looks great for it. We could have gone the other way and used longer lens. When you use shorter lenses, you are right in the action. I am glad that the visual style of the film is the way it is. it really helps tell the story. Especially with the 1:235 ratio as well. With other films shot in Hong Kong; you can always see someone looking in the camera.

In Hong Kong they usually use long lenses because there are so many people that it is better to be far away because no one knows you are shooting. Guy liked the look of using short lens. Dax believed using 235 was great for landscapes. He wanted to use that more for our faces, it’s unusual. It is not a style that is used that often in Hong Kong.

Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang
Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How were Byron and Eugenia cast?
Tobin: Byron is a really cool guy. He’s this suave, charming, charismatic kind of guy. He’s like this gentleman/playboy, which is not as an insult. It’s easy to want to be him. I love the guy. It was easy for me as Leonard to want to be Byron. There an ease there, and also he’s a great actor. From the very beginning when we started writing the script, he was always in our mind to play the man. He’s originally from Hong Kong. I think he has a home in LA, in Vancouver; he’s definitely an international jetsetter. He’s actually the kind of guy that I want to be.

Jason Tobin and Eugenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin and Eugenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang

I had known Eugenia for a long time and always thought that she was a great actress. I had never worked with her but we’ve known each other for a while.

Euguenia Yuan and Jason Tobin in #1 Serial Killer.
Euguenia Yuan and Jason Tobin in #1 Serial Killer.

She was someone we had always thought of. For me the shoot was incredibly difficult. As you know, the film is mostly on me. It was a tough shoot. I had to do take after take, long takes, and I had to do such emotional, every scene is emotionally draining. Long takes, and multiple takes. I was exhausted. After two or three weeks of filming, Eugenia showed up for a few days to do her scenes. I was so happy that I had someone to act opposite. As an actor she is really easy to work with. She’s very in the moment, responsive. She was always very organic and in the moment. It elevates your acting.

As scripted, the original cut was two hours and 40 minutes. We had gotten to a shorter edit, 90 minutes at one point, and I said to Dax and Chris, “You’ve been editing to the script for a long time, now you need to throw the script away, and edit the film that you have. You need to rewrite it. I told them to go Malick on it.” To their credit, they tore the film to pieces and rebuilt it with that in mind. They came away with a much better film. What that means is that in the process, a lot of performances, actors and scenes got cut out. You use a lot of clay, pottery, and sculpture, pack a lot on and take things out. Even though I am in a lot of the film, to get those scenes we had to do so much more to get that. In film they always talk about shooting ratio, it’s the acting ratio and writing ratio that makes up that backstory, that got cut out.

Euguenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang
Euguenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: Who is Grace and what was the evolution of her character?
Tobin: As an artist you want to work on a subconscious level. Is she is real or not real. The story evolved and changed through the making of it. There are a lot more intimate scenes where Grace and my character Leonard are getting to know each other and getting reacquainted. If you notice, in Grace’s scenes, there’s a baby crying in the background. Whose baby is that? Could Leonard be the father? With Grace, to me she always symbolized the life that he could have, and that the audience should want him to have. She’s the path that could lead him to some sort of salvation. Psychologically he is unable to.

Those scenes didn’t make it in the final cut, but we had to go through those scenes in order to have one did make it into the film. Eugenia says more than one look, then a script full of dialogue. I sometimes describe it as acting beyond the frame.

Chang: How did your producer Stratton Leopold get involved in the project?
Tobin: Dax and Stratton have known each other for many years. I think he met him when he was working at Mace Neufeld. Stratton mentored him and always believed in him. When Dax approached him about Jasmine, Stratton was on board right away.

The night before the first day of the shoot, one of our investors pulled out. Can you imagine the amount of stress when a major investor pulls out the cash? You’ve hired the people; you’ve booked things out. Then you lose the money at the last minute. It wasn’t all the money, but it was a huge chunk and it would have shut us down. Stratton was literally a guardian angel, not just because he lent his expertise and his name to the project, but also because he literally saved us. Our boat was about to sink. He saved the day.

Chang: How long was the shooting schedule?
Tobin: A good month. A four-week shoot, six days a week. We had a terrible schedule. You could never do this in America. In Hong Kong, and I certainly wouldn’t do it again, we had really short turnarounds. Some days we had 8 hour turn around. That’s ridiculous. I honestly don’t put up with that anymore. The 8-hour turn around was good for my performance. If I was supposed to be tired, I definitely was.

In Hong Kong, there are no unions. As an actor you have to protect yourself. When you are in the states, in the west, there are rules. That being said, I was the producer on this film, so I could have put my foot down. With such a low budget film, with the tight turnarounds, I didn’t enjoy them, but we couldn’t afford not to do it. Fortunately, everyone on board the film, every cast member, every crewmember, really believed in the script and they persevered through it. I would never want to put a crew through that kind of pain and agony again. Dax said that everyone came on board because they wanted to help me, so I am very thankful.

Chang: What challenges did you face in postproduction?
Tobin: The biggest challenge we faced in postproduction was that we had zero budget. We had no money whatsoever. We had tried to raise money prior to the shoot, but we could only raise enough to shoot the film.

We did not have enough to complete the whole postproduction part of it. What that meant was that we had to make the film sporadically and then we had to go back to work. We would return to making the film as we made more money.

After the shoot, we didn’t have an editor, but in the back of mind I’d wanted to introduced Chris Chan Lee to Dax. I’d worked with Chris Chan Lee on his first feature Yellow. I have great respect for Chris. He’s the kind of filmmaker that can do everything. He can write, he can DP, he can direct, he can edit. He’s an all around filmmaker. He was working as an editor and knowing that this was Dax’s first time as a filmmaker, and knowing their personalities as well, I had a feeling that they would really hit it off and that both of their experiences would compliment each other. I feel like a genius for introducing them.

Chang: Why did the film take so long to complete?
Tobin: Right after the shoot, he suffered a few family losses, his mother and grandmother. That set him back. He needed to drop the film for a while so he could regroup and recover. What that meant was that we had an extremely long postproduction. Several years. It was never because the film wasn’t any good. Life got in the way.

We were not going to make this film in any sort of traditional way. We weren’t trying to make a commercial film. We stayed true to the spirit of it, this organic.

We were always very patient. We never rushed ourselves. We were going to make the best film that we could make. Traditionally when people think your film takes a long time to finish, they think it has problems. That was never the case.

After a while a couple of crewmembers and people that worked on the film got upset. It’s understandable. People work on a film; they want to see where their time and energy went. People were paid a pittance on this film. I totally understood it. We went into this film with a certain philosophy. We’re going to take our time.

Nicole Watson, David Tsuboi, Michelle Tobin, Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan, Jon Anderson and guest attend the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
Nicole Watson, David Tsuboi, Michelle Tobin, Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan, Jon Anderson and guest attend the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How did you raise the completion financing?
Tobin: We needed to get sound design and music. Byron knew Nicole Watson, her and her partner Jon Anderson saw the film and loved it. They came in and paid for the postproduction. We could see the finish line. DPS in Hollywood. It would have been cheaper in Hong Kong.

2015 LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL GRAND JURY PRIZE FOR BEST FEATURE GOES TO JASMINE, DIRECTED BY DAX PHELAN. HERE, THE TEAM FROM JASMINE CELEBRATES ITS FIVE AWARDS. FIFTH FROM LEFT: CHRIS CHAN LEE (WINNER, BEST EDITING); SEVENTH FROM LEFT: JASON TOBIN (WINNER, BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA); THIRD FROM RIGHT: DAX PHELAN (DIRECTOR); SECOND FROM RIGHT: GUY LIVNEH (WINNER, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY). (PHOTO: STEVEN LAM)
2015 LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL GRAND JURY PRIZE FOR BEST FEATURE GOES TO JASMINE, DIRECTED BY DAX PHELAN. HERE, THE TEAM FROM JASMINE CELEBRATES ITS FIVE AWARDS. FIFTH FROM LEFT: CHRIS CHAN LEE (WINNER, BEST EDITING); SEVENTH FROM LEFT: JASON TOBIN (WINNER, BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA); THIRD FROM RIGHT: DAX PHELAN (DIRECTOR); SECOND FROM RIGHT: GUY LIVNEH (WINNER, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY). (PHOTO: STEVEN LAM)

Chang: Being on the Film Festival Circuit…
Tobin: We had our US premiere in Dallas, our LA premiere at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. In this day and age, everyone in Hollywood is talking about the West and China co-productions. Everyone is trying to figure it out. Everyone wants to make these films. We did it. Jasmine is a US –Hong Kong co-production. Jasmine is a little indie film that we made. That is the thing that I am most proud of. It’s as much an American film, as it is an Asian American film, as it is a Hong Kong film. For me, I spent my whole career training as an actor in Los Angeles. I spent so many years going to the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival for other films, Better Luck Tomorrow and Yellow. To finally bring my film, a film that I produced, that I co-wrote, that I gave everything to, bled for, to premiere in Hong Kong and in LA, to me that was fabulous.

I grew up in Hong Kong; I went to America to study to become an actor. My whole adult life, my acting life was LA. To me Hong Kong and LA are my hometowns. To make a film in Hong Kong, to premiere in LA, to be so well received. When I won the best actor award at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, I was in tears. I was so moved. Hong Kong is my home, but coming to LA with the film felt like coming home as well.

Lia Chang, Bea Soong, Phil Nee, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Jason Tobin, Tzi Ma and Vic Huey at the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Ursula Liang
Lia Chang, Bea Soong, Phil Nee, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Jason Tobin, Tzi Ma and Vic Huey at the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Ursula Liang

Related articles:
#AAIFF2015: Dax Phelan’s Award winning JASMINE to have New York Premiere at Village East Cinema on July 30 
JASMINE and TWINSTERS Take Top Honors at the 31st Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival; ADVANTAGEOUS, MISS INDIA AMERICA, THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HAING S. NGOR among the winners

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

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, which will screen at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival on November 21st. She is profiled in Examiner.com, FebOne1960.com BlogJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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