15th SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL ASIAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL: 1997

Over the past couple of I weeks I attended a pair of film festivals occurring at the same time, 1500 miles apart. Being a little cranky and burned out, I accidentally told one director, “If I have to sit through one more art film, I’m going to shoot myself in the head. ” I, of course, said this right before I watched his film. Anyway, with the invaluable help of Jessica Hayes in San Francisco, and Merle Bertrand in Austin, Texas, here is the part one of my report:
This festival actually contains a great deal of films from Asia, and not just Pacific Rim countries. Many Asian filmmakers working today in independent film screened their first works here. SFIAAFF tends toward the high-brow side, but several new American entries helped to correct that. The buzzword this year was “Generasian X” in honor of all the young filmmakers present.
[ SHOPPING FOR FANGS ] ^ I wish Quentin Tarantino would get off his ass and make a Tarantino movie. Maybe that would stop everyone else from trying. “Shopping for Fangs” attempts this sort of quirkiness but is most successful when it does not. There are two interweaving storylines: First, Phil (Radmar Jao) is a lonely young office clerk who thinks he’s becoming a werewolf. Second, Katherine (an outstanding Jeanne Chin) is a damaged young bride to a vicious yuppie. Katherine is having blackouts and is being stalked by Trinh, a lesbian waitress who looks straight out of “Chungking Express”.
The directors, Quentin Lee and Justin Lin, should have more faith in their characters. The violent outbreaks seem forced and detract from the strength of the main stories.
[ SUNSETS ] ^ Everybody talks about making a movie, but if you re going to learn, just make one. Cousins Michael Idemoto and Eric Nakamura, the force behind the excellent Giant Robot magazine, did just that with their first feature, “Sunsets”. If you watched as many art films as I did in the last two weeks, all you would ask for is to be entertained. While often sloppy (one character calls another by the actor’s name, twice), this movie did just that.
Starring co-director Michael Idemoto, former Film Threat intern Nicholas Constant, and great find Josh Brand, “Sunsets” is the story of three delinquent friends from Watsonville, California, the summer before Mark (Idemoto) goes to college and after Gary (Brand) gets out of jail. All three realize this is their last summer together and fitfully attempt to move on while clinging to the adventures (mostly illegal) the group shares together. The filmmakers thankfully never impose some wacky high concept on the plot and just let the story unfold at its own pace. Now that Idemoto and Nakamura have learned filmmaking from the only school that will really teach you, I can’t wait to see what they do now that they have graduated.




Posted on March 25, 1997 in Festivals by
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