Posts tagged ‘raspberry magic’

2010 Mini Festival of Recent Asian American Films Reflection (Jonathan Soon)

Secret Asian Man Comic
(Secret Asian Man by Tak Toyoshima)

  • How did the group process work for you – are there things that you would do differently in retrospect? If so, why?

I think the group process worked well. There weren’t a lot of issues that truly caused controversy or a divide among the group, which always helps. I think deciding things with voting and having Prof. Ma mediate/moderate was a good way to do things.

  • What did you learn from programming and organizing the Festival?

I learned a lot in both the programming and organization of the festival. From a programming standpoint I learned the different considerations in terms of not only format (serial vs. condensed) but also what actually goes into choosing a screening program from a pool. I learned that filmmakers get paid for their works to be screened and to appear in person. (This makes sense, but I have never really known about this or thought about it before.) From an organization standpoint, I learned a lot of technical skills. I learned how to use Adobe Illustrator to make a flier (I now know why people use this instead of Photoshop to make fliers). I also learned how to operate the audio/visual booth in Broad Performance Space. Finally, I got a glimpse into the lives of independent filmmakers of various notoriety at both the dinner and the reception we hosted. I enjoyed both and especially enjoyed chatting with Quentin Lee about various topics.

  • Did you learn something new about the subject that is different from what you learnt in the books and films we discussed in class?

I thought it was interesting the festival featured both RASPBERRY MAGIC and THE TAQWACORES. Both these filmed featured groups I would normally not associate with an Asian American film festival. I also thought the subject matter covered in WIND IN A BOX and GRANDMA (transgenderism, mental health) are subjects that normally not discussed in Asian communities.

  • Did your views on Asian American media change during the project?

I think my views changed in that I got to see some more modern independently produced Asian-American features and shorts. It definitely got me interested in the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival that is coming up next year. I think it’d be cool to volunteer but with classes that seems hard…I should hopefully be able to at least make some screenings. I enjoyed seeing Asian American in both somewhat stereotypical roles (but usually with a good twist) and roles they would normally not have. STRANGERS in particular is interesting because it’s an American movie, set in LA and is a thriller/action film with both an Asian male and Asian female lead and a Caucasian sidekick…normally it’s the other way around.

  • Were there things that did not work, or ones that worked differently from what you expected?

One thing that I’m going to work on for all future projects is proofreading. Anytime you have text, it seems like no matter how many times your proofread there will still be errors unless you have like 3 other people read the same text. (“Rasberry Magic” comes to mind.) This blog post is no exception, I found 3+ typos in it even after proofreading it 5 times. I also think for future festivals that having a longer lead time would be better to allow for more people to be on panels and to allow for better promotion.


-Written and Posted by Jonathan Soon

November 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm Leave a comment

Planning & Programming (Film Festival Report Part 2)

SHORTCOMINGS by Adrian Tomine(from SHORTCOMINGS by Adrian Tomine)

As our guest speaker Abe Ferrer (Co-Director of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival) pointed out in his visit, film festivals choose from a huge pool of media for screening. Abe mentioned that for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival there were hundreds of entries and he personally watched at least a part of 300 or so. The general process is there is a “call for submissions” during which virtually anyone can submit a work for screening consideration provided they meet eligibility requirements and pay a submission fee. The eligibility for an Asian American Film Festival usually requires that the film either be produced by Asian Americans, feature Asian American, and/or deal with topics related to Asian Americans. (Note the definition of “Asian Americans” can be quite broad or restrictive depending upon the festival.) A given festival may require only one of these aspects or all three. Both The San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival accept “films and videos that are made by or about Asian Americans and Asians of any nationality. All lengths and genres will be considered.” These are definitely quite broad eligibility requirements. Submission fees are usually graduated as well, there is an “early deadline” and a “late deadline” in terms of submission dates and submitters pay more if they submit after the “early deadline”. Note that the entry fees for Asian American film festivals are generally less than those of bigger, better known film festivals such as Sundance. The lower costs and wider eligibility requirements are necessary because of the nature of Asian American media: it is generally independently produced and often not feature length.

As Prof. Ma pointed out in his guidelines to our film festival, there are other criteria in play during the selection process than simply “Is [the work] well made?” There are issues of “breaking new ground” and whether or not a work speaks to the “Asian American experience”. Abe mentioned that a work can be somewhat un-polished or not super professional in technical terms, but will still get selected for their festival simply because it represents a new or seldom seen point of view. (RASPBERRY MAGIC and THE TAQWACORES immediately come to mind in the “new or seldom seen point of view” aspect.) Of course, a real film festival (unlike ours) has to sell enough tickets and secure enough sponsorship to at least break even assuming the festival organizers want to continue running it. This means picking some more mainstream polished works that will both please and attract a crowd. Festivals generally have a couple “big draw” films in big theaters and venues while the (theoretically) less popular shorts and experimental films get smaller venues. One good example of this is New York’s Asian American International Film Festival, which screened PEOPLE I’VE SLEPT WITH as the Closing Night Presentation. We also screened this film as our last program as the class felt it was a “crowd pleasing” movie and an “easy sell”.

Quentin Lee taking questions (Quentin Lee taking questions)

As we found out first hand, there is one additional aspect during film festival programming that cannot be overlooked: scheduling. Not only in terms of securing venues and equipment to actual screen works, but the schedules of the filmmakers must be taken into consideration as well. The main draw of a film festival is that after a screening various members of the cast and crew are present for a question and answer panel. This usually includes the director, producer, and a lead actor or more of the cast. Obviously the film festival’s screening times must be such that cast and crew can attend. We selected our films and shorts based on not only class voting but whether or not the filmmakers could make a Q&A panel afterwards. (We even used Skype to talk to the producer and director of RASPBERRY MAGIC.)

Finally there is the serial vs. compressed format issue. A serial format is one where a work is screened on a certain day at a specific time for a given amount of weeks. (Last year’s festival for this class was used this format; works were shown every Thursday at 7PM for 4 weeks straight.) The compressed format is something akin to a convention, works are screened continuously throughout the day (space and time permitting) and each day has its own set of screening. The vast majority of film festivals are of the compressed format. Every festival mentioned so far in this post, including Sundance, uses the compressed format. One generally sees a serial format at places such as universities or independent theaters that will do a film series such as “noir night” every Thursday in November. One good example of this is the Silent Movie Theater, which (true to its name) screens a silent movie every Wednesday among other programs.


-Written and Posted by Jonathan Soon

November 18, 2010 at 9:10 pm 2 comments

A Brief History of Asian American Film Festivals (Film Festival Report Part 1)

(This is the first in a series of blog posts that discusses Asian American film festivals. I plan on addressing not only the history of such festivals, but the reasons why they are important and how we can make them better. I will also comment on what I think is the future for Asian American film festivals with the advent of modern technology such as video sharing sites like YouTube. This will be a series of 5 posts, with the first being a brief history of major Asian American Film Festivals in North America. The second post will discuss the planning and programming of such a film festival, the third will be a collection of tips and tricks for running a small film festival. The fourth post will address the role that Asian American film festivals fill and the fifth and final post will discuss the future of Asian American film festivals.)

Asian American Film Festivals were born out of the Asian American rights movements of the late 1970s. Like the rights movements, the Asian American Film Festivals have “do it yourself” philosophy and are generally independently run like most film festivals. They are of varying size and attract sponsors from a diverse community. For many people, film festivals represent the only real (and legal) way to view Asian American films and shorts. This is because of limited distribution opportunities. Additionally, “many Asian American film/video makers and spectators produce and consume movies without an awareness of Asian American cinema as an artistic tradition.”[1] San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles all host major Asian American Film Festivals[2].

Screen Grab of SF IAAFF 2010
(San Fransico International Asian American Film Festival)

The San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival started in 1982. It was started by the NAATA (National Asian American Telecommunications Association). In 1985 there was a brief break (the only break for the 28year festival run) due to the National Asian American Media Arts Conference at UCLA. Starting in 1986 the festival was run as its own independent entity. Today, the festival is run by the Center for Asian America Media which describes the event as “an important launching point for Asian American independent filmmakers”.  The center not only funds projects such as the festival, but it also produces and distributes tv spots and other media as well. (It’s both a producer and distributor of media.) In recent years (2002-today) there has been a lot of “crossing over” in terms of the festival audience, with an increasing number of non-Asian audience members. This is probably due in part to the mainstream success of films like Justin Lin’s BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (2002).

Screen Grab of www.aaiff.org/2010
(Asian American International Film Festival in New York)

The Asian American International Film Festival in New York was founded in 1978. The goal is “a platform for filmmakers of all backgrounds to develop the constructs of Asian cinema and cultivate the next generation of talent”. The festival is produced by Asian CineVision which is “a not-for-profit national media arts organization dedicated to the development, promotion and preservation of film and video arts by and about people of Asian descent” that was founded in 1976. Asian CineVision has a membership that pays dues that help fund not only the film festival, but various programming and opportunities for media artists. The 2010 Asian American International Film Festival included screenings of Quentin Lee’s PEOPLE I’VE SLEPT WITH (Closing Night Presentation) as well as Bruce Beresford’s MAO’S LAST DANCER which was later released as an art house film with limited distribution.

LA APFF 2010 Screen Grab
(Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival)

The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival started in 1983 “as a vehicle to promote Asian and Asian Pacific American cinema”. The festival is one of the largest Asian American related events in Los Angeles and is heavily staffed by volunteers. The festival is produced by Visual Communications which from our readings we know as the oldest Asian American media arts company/group in the United States (founded in 1970). One interesting thing to note as our guest Abe Ferrer pointed out was that they consider other ethnic groups as Asian that are not normally considered to be Asian by other Asian American film festivals. These include South Asians (Indians, Pakistani) as well as Russians among others. The 2010 festival screened RASPBERRY MAGIC (about an Indian family) and THE TAQWACORES (about a first-generation Pakistani) as examples of films produced by these groups. In addition to Asian American works, the festival spotlights programs from countries that are not usually seen here “including China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, among others“ For our festival (see below), the viewing pool consisted of a subset of works screened at the 2010 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Flyer for 2010 Mini Festival of Recent Asian American Films
(The 2010 Mini Festival of Recent Asian American Films)

The Mini Festival of Recent Asian American Films is the film festival we put on for our class, Media Studies 100 PZ: Asian American in Media. The first festival was last year (Spring 2010) and was primarily programmed and planned by Prof. Ming-Yuen Ma. This time around, the students of the class did most of the programming and planning. (A future blog post will go into the process of selection and planning of the film festival.) Though the 2010 Mini Festival or Recent Asian American Films was only the 2nd such film festival, the overall attendance was already greater than the last one and there will be future festivals. Hopefully the festival can grow in time to at least become an annual event on Pitzer College of some note!


 

[1] Feng, Peter p.6 Screening Asian Americans. Ed. Peter X Feng. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
[2] Feng, Peter p. 6 Screening Asian Americans. Ed. Peter X Feng. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

 
-Written and Posted by Jonathan Soon

November 18, 2010 at 8:50 pm 3 comments

Raspberry Magic Friday Nov. 5th @ 7PM

RASPBERRY MAGIC (2009) Dir. Leena Pendharkar
7pm
Location: Benson Auditorium

11-year-old Monica Shah (Lily Javaherpour) believes raspberries are
“the perfect balance of sweet and sour, the good and the bad.” Her
father has just lost his job and left his family, her mother has
fallen into depression, and now her little sister refuses to go to
school. It’s up to Monica to bring them all back together, all while
trying to win the science fair by proving human touch makes raspberry
plants grow faster. RASPBERRY MAGIC offers an inspiring tale of love’s
power to reunite and the value of following your dreams.

Though the family at the center of RASPBERRY MAGIC is Indian,
questions of race and ethnicity are not front and center of this
kid-safe film. Beyond physical appearance and fusion cooking, the Shah
family is the same as many a family down on its luck. Their economic
struggles are met with less than responsible reactions on the part of
the adults, but in their failings, Monica’s heartwarming maturity is
given a chance to shine. It is gratifying to find a young girl in the
role of the dorky but lovable science nerd. Full of brains and
perseverance, Monica is a protagonist we can really root for as she
navigates stumbling family members, mountains of dirty dishes, science
fair sabotage, robots, and the magic of raspberries.

(88 min.)
In Person (via Skype): Leena Pendharkar and Megha Kadakia, Producer

November 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment


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