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GreenCine Movie Talk
Independent
Talk about the world of independent film.
42

new asian-american indies
Topic by: dpowers
Posted: September 4, 2003 - 8:51 PM PDT
Last Reply: April 27, 2004 - 9:50 PM PDT

page  1  2      prev | next
author topic: new asian-american indies
dpowers
post #1  on September 4, 2003 - 8:51 PM PDT  
NAATA's latest email newsletter celebrates the DVD release of a handful of indie productions concerning life in uh i guess "the asian diaspora"...

the debut
maryam
first person singular: i.m. pei
better luck tomorrow
charlotte sometimes
bend it like beckham

NAATA is the group that puts on the san francisco international asian american film festival. yes that's contradictory... i'm sure they like that little identity crisis conflict in there.
snafu
post #2  on September 8, 2003 - 7:10 AM PDT  
That's a pretty cool list, I am really looking forward to seeing maryam.
I am always confused about wheter or not Iranian films count as asian films. But I am happy to see any iranian film.

>
> the debut
> maryam
> first person singular: i.m. pei
> better luck tomorrow
> charlotte sometimes
> bend it like beckham
>
> NAATA is the group that puts on the san francisco international asian american film festival. yes that's contradictory... i'm sure they like that little identity crisis conflict in there.
> ---------------------------------

dpowers
post #3  on September 8, 2003 - 10:53 AM PDT  
first off "the middle east" doesn't count as a continent...
^_^

okay i don't know if this is such a hot source, but it does look like iran is part of asia, looking at these tectonic maps.

iran seems to be generally considered to be part of asia. going by the continental plates they're all sitting on, all but a little of iran is on the eurasian plate. however there seems to be disagreement about whether countries on the arabian plate (iraq, syria, lebanon, jordan, saudi arabia, kuwait, bahrain, qatar, UAE, oman, yemen, part of israel, and small parts of turkey and iran) are part of africa or asia, politically.

i see some references to "the iranian plate" but it seems to be kinda connected to the eurasian plate... or it's a bunch of rocks getting squished by the three major plates (arabian, eurasian, indian)... how's that for a metaphor. social earthquakes, geological earthquakes, take your pick bub.

more significantly, iran is a member of this UN group of asian and pacific countries, so at least as far as the current islamic government is concerned, iran is asian. (maybe just because they don't wanna be considered arabs, or didn't somewhen...?)

also: the philippines are sitting on their own continental plate! go philippines!
kamapuaa
post #4  on September 8, 2003 - 10:34 PM PDT  
Personally, I'm a little down on Western-Asian movies, because characters don't progress much beyond stereotype. The SF newspaper ad for "Charlotte Sometimes" was a picture of an Asian woman giving some kind of look, with the tagline "Sexy, and Mysterious." How embarassing!

At the least, I wish these movies would draw from a larger set of stereotypes. You get the feeling all these directors know about the races being portrayed, is what they've heard secondhand from TV. Obviously it's not true, these directors are writing about their own race. Asian kids who study really hard, get 4.0s, and have hard-working parents, are so over-played! Different stereotypes, or realistic characters, would be more interesting.

The other annoying tendency is for movies to present assimilation as the ultimate goal. They make culture into something you're forced into putting up with, an unrelated addition to your real goals, rather than part of who you are. It's not realistic, and it makes the movie come off as some kind of evil propoganda piece. "Maryam" was a really bad example of this. But even in "Bend it like Beckham", you get the feeling she could care less about family traditions.

I didn't see "Charlotte Sometimes" or "The Debut," though. Maybe they're great?
Gradalis
post #5  on September 9, 2003 - 12:22 AM PDT  
I didn't see CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES...though. Maybe [it's] great?
Despite the advertisements, CHARLOTTE is far from stereotypical. Eric Byler's film thankfully avoids most of the usual trappings. It might be the first normal film about Asian Americans, in that "Asian-ness" is not the primary motivator of the plot (much like, one could argue, LOVE & HUMAN REMAINS was one of the first normal queer films). I'd recommend it.

-- Marlow

larbeck
post #6  on September 9, 2003 - 7:12 AM PDT  
> On September 8, 2003 - 10:53 AM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> okay i don't know if this is such a hot source, but it does look like iran is part of asia

Hell, a lot of people say Turkey is part of Asia. Can you say, "Asia Minor'?
larbeck
post #7  on September 9, 2003 - 7:15 AM PDT  
I was wondering - can anyone recommend a film about life under Chairman Mao and the Culture Revolution? I imagine, even now, a true story could not be made on location with approval of the PRC government. But there has got to be a lot of untold stories about that time that has yet to be told.

I am looking for a narrative rather than a documentary but a good docmentary would be cool, too.
dpowers
post #8  on September 9, 2003 - 9:07 AM PDT  
there are lots of them, here are three good ones, from the star directors who could get away with some honesty.

the blue kite
farewell my concubine
to live

dpowers
post #9  on September 9, 2003 - 9:09 AM PDT  
BTW turkey is also a member of that asian-pacific UN group.
Gradalis
post #10  on September 9, 2003 - 10:45 AM PDT  
...can anyone recommend a film about life under Chairman Mao and the Culture Revolution?
In addition to Mr. Powers' excellent suggestions, I would also direct you to specific scenes (rather than the whole) of two films:
The Last Emperor
& The Red Violin

-- Marlow
dpowers
post #11  on September 9, 2003 - 10:48 AM PDT  
yes yes, mr marlow, the red violin has the scene i was trying to place! thank you, thank you, thank you.

i know there is at least one flick from hong kong that covers this too but i can't think of it.
dpowers
post #12  on September 9, 2003 - 5:14 PM PDT  
kamapuaa wrote:
> Personally, I'm a little down on Western-Asian movies, because characters don't progress much beyond stereotype.

people are trying. but look at black cinema. it's taken a long time to get a grip on presenting stories that are realistic, and still, the films that are remembered are the flashy ones where the stereotypes do battle.

also indie filmmaking is so so so so so white. a movie that's going to make it in the art house circuit's going to be so so so so dumb, holding everybody by the hand, "look, that's a vietnamese baby, that's a vietnamese grandma holding the baby, see the similarity? just like you. and look, now the vietnamese baby is grown up and shooting neighbors' dogs and getting drunk and arrested and pregnant, just like you did. wow! it's like looking in a mirror huh."

i don't know what i'm talking about... what i see in asian american films, kind of behind it, still seems to be a pressure from behind to succeed on some new level. some of the movies are being made to get out of the box, others are being made because The Box... Wants... A Movie and then once the movie is made, you go back to your lucrative established career in the industry and make everybody proud.

> Different stereotypes, or realistic characters, would be more interesting.

it's going to be in the documentaries, i think.

africans and central/south americans have been under control here. their servitude goes unregarded, their occasional desire to be at the table can be interpreted an accomplishment of white society. the history with asian folks is pretty different. the fear that when every utopian fantasy is realized, the middle class of the world could be asian, and attending a different church, is evoked by the face of every "real" asian character on television and in movies.

feature films are definitely a place people go to stake claims to social territory. conservative films are to be expected.

> The other annoying tendency is for movies to present assimilation as the ultimate goal. They make culture into something you're forced into putting up with, an unrelated addition to your real goals, rather than part of who you are.

maybe it's like the "i'd rather not be gay but i am" argument working better than "i'm here and queer." when it looks like you're trying to harmonize where possible, the things you can't change are more tolerable? sure...

but, people don't want to be ruled by strangers. if somebody's going to be in charge - which is part of what we're talking about, right, sharing power usually means giving power to individuals who are not from "my group" - if somebody's going to be in charge, and they're from an untrusted group, then they have to do everything to the letter, twice, to earn trust for themselves, individually.

i'm thinking that this is the moment now to start challenging that because the high tech generations are strangers to the people before them. asian or white or whatever, gadgets are a bigger difference.

no i mean it... i think people are really aware that the computer gap is growing, and it's behind a lot of what we're seeing as backlash against affirmative action and such. that generation and its conservative children are afraid of being replaced.
dpowers
post #13  on September 9, 2003 - 5:19 PM PDT  
they're not stupid. their fear is warranted. instead of being trained in computers, they get sacked. the non-tech jobs go to overseas factories, the tech jobs go to overseas tech shops. IT SUCKS. rich asian kids making movies here are just rubbing it in.
larbeck
post #14  on September 10, 2003 - 8:37 AM PDT  
> On September 8, 2003 - 10:34 PM PDT kamapuaa wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Personally, I'm a little down on Western-Asian movies, because characters don't progress much beyond stereotype.

If I might indulge in a bit of stereotyping myself - it does seen that Asian cultures have more a tradition of sticking to type and going along with the crowd - at least more than the West with it's emphesis on individualism. But then the conflicts with that tradition does make for excellent stories....like in "Whale Rider" or "Bend It Like Beckham", for example.
larbeck
post #15  on September 10, 2003 - 8:43 AM PDT  
> On September 9, 2003 - 9:07 AM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> there are lots of them, here are three good ones, from the star directors who could get away with some honesty.
>
> the blue kite
> farewell my concubine
> to live
>
>
> ---------------------------------


oooo, thank for you for to live! If Zhang Yimou did half as a good job as he did with "Raise the Red Lantern" - OH! I was looking for it in the database and it is NOT THERE? Well, I am sure that it will get to DVD Right Soon Now. Watch for it!!!
Gradalis
post #16  on September 10, 2003 - 11:55 AM PDT  
I was looking for it in the database and it is NOT THERE?
It's there now. It disappeared briefly during the "build" last night.
dpowers
post #17  on September 10, 2003 - 12:16 PM PDT  
to live is different from other zhang flicks. you'll like it though, i'm sure.

> "Raise the Red Lantern"

right, not on DVD yet.
postmod
post #18  on September 10, 2003 - 8:22 PM PDT  
> On September 8, 2003 - 10:34 PM PDT kamapuaa wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> At the least, I wish these movies would draw from a larger set of stereotypes. You get the feeling all these directors know about the races being portrayed, is what they've heard secondhand from TV. Obviously it's not true, these directors are writing about their own race. Asian kids who study really hard, get 4.0s, and have hard-working parents, are so over-played! Different stereotypes, or realistic characters, would be more interesting.

oh, i dunno. as juvenile and overly brett easton ellis as "better luck tomorrow" got sometimes i think it had a interesting point to make. the kids studied really hard, got 4.0s, and did drugs, had sex, murdered people. it was just like my high school!

but really, even making what's essentially a stereotypical teens-gone-wrong flick with an all-asian cast turns a lot of preconceptions on their head. i saw reviews for "tomorrow" that said the film avoided dealing with asian american issues and that it didn't make use of the cast, which i think is wrong, but also missing the point. a third generation asian american isn't going to have joy luck club style angst with their parents from the old country. a lot of films recycle old stereotypes because they's a core of truth to them that still resonates with many and with the filmmaker, but also because that's become the definition of what asian american film is supposed to be.

okay, now i'm rambling and on my third beer so i'll stop while my spelling is holding up.

dpowers
post #19  on September 29, 2003 - 4:50 PM PDT  
late addition to the cultural revolution film list, xiu xiu, which i forgot...
kodack
post #20  on April 16, 2004 - 4:37 PM PDT  
Japanese Indie films are something special. The Japanese studio system is government subsidized and their movies made "in the system" are not free expression.


> On September 4, 2003 - 8:51 PM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> NAATA's latest email newsletter celebrates the DVD release of a handful of indie productions concerning life in uh i guess "the asian diaspora"...
>
> the debut
> maryam
> first person singular: i.m. pei
> better luck tomorrow
> charlotte sometimes
> bend it like beckham
>
> NAATA is the group that puts on the san francisco international asian american film festival. yes that's contradictory... i'm sure they like that little identity crisis conflict in there.
> ---------------------------------

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