ESPN 30 for 30, All of Us Movement, Gold House, and Humanity Forward presented an exclusive Q&A discussion with ‘Be Water’ Director Bao Nguyen, CEO of The Bruce Lee Family Companies Shannon Lee, Host of United Shades of America W. Kamau Bell, and Author Jeff Chang.
In 1971, before his superstardom, Bruce Lee returned to Hong Kong to get the opportunities to be a lead actor that eluded him in America. In the two years before his untimely death, Lee completed four films, which changed the history of film and made him a household name. Through rare archival footage, memories of family and friends, and his own words, the story of that time and Lee’s prior experiences are told with an intimacy and immediacy that have infrequently been used in earlier tellings of his legend.
Growing up and living between the West and the East, Lee was ahead of his time in thinking about the transnational audience. He experienced the racist reaction of an American film industry inundated by a subservient and menacing image of Asian people—and learned he’d have to tell his own stories to escape it. Director Bao Nguyen elegantly weaves Lee’s personal struggle for visibility with that of his times and reminds us that though it was for a short time, Lee’s star burned so brightly we still see it today.
Bao Nguyen is an award-winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles and Saigon. As the child of Vietnamese war refugees, he first pursued law to appease his parents but soon found his passion in film. His directorial debut, Live from New York!, opened the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. He is an alumnus of Berlinale Talents and the Firelight Media Documentary Lab. He earned his BA at New York University and his MFA at the School of Visual Arts.
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 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. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.
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