Category Archives: Movies

HBO Launches Short Film Contest for AAPI “Visionary” Filmmakers

August 17, 2016

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Are you an emerging AAPI filmmaker? If so, then this post is for you!

HBO announced today Asian Pacific American Visionaries, an exciting new opportunity for young AAPI filmmakers. APA Visionaries is a short film contest specifically geared towards emerging AAPI directors who use the medium of short film (either narrative or documentary) to explore the AAPI experience.

Filmmakers are invited to submit their shorts prior to the November 7th deadline.

A panel of film-making experts will select three winners from the pool of submitted films. Winning films will air at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in April 2017, and the film will be licensed to be distributed through HBO on-air or streaming outlets during APA Heritage Month in May 2017.

An additional cash prize will be awarded to each of the winning filmmakers, and HBO will also provide travel money so that filmmakers can attend their film’s premiere at LAAPFF.

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Matt Damon is Not the Hero China Needs, But He’s The One Hollywood Will Give Us

July 30, 2016
Matt Damon, in a screen capture from the newly released trailer for "The Great Wall".
Matt Damon, in a screen capture from the newly released trailer for “The Great Wall”.

I can’t even right now.

The basic concept of the upcoming The Great Wall seems like a Hollywood studio wet dream: the Great Wall of China is reimagined as the frontlines for a fantasy thriller that pits mankind against an army of invading mythical monsters. If one were going down a checklist for making a big-budget fantasy movie guaranteed to make money, this would be it. Fast-paced action scenes? Check. Breath-taking CGI? Check. An opportunity to film in 3D? Check. A stupid movie plot? Check. People armed with a bows and arrows? Check. Check. Check.

In an alternate universe, The Great Wall might have been kind of cool. I’ve long waited for Hollywood to start earnestly exploring movie concepts outside of the Western cultural, historical, and sociopolitical framework. Non-Western and non-White history is flush with great stories just waiting to be told. The Great Wall could have been such an opportunity. In so doing, it could have recentered the camera’s gaze on non-White people, offered a tale of non-White humanity, and told a silly fantasy story about a pretty interesting era of ancient Chinese history.

Indeed, I’m a fan of Chinese blockbuster films, perhaps because films that emerge out of Asian movie houses are refreshingly unbound by American cinema’s racial stereotypes. As a consequence, Chinese cinema accomplishes naturally that which American Hollywood still struggles to do: in Chinese cinema, (East) Asian characters occupy the full range of the human condition. In American cinema, we are always the oddball, the outcast, or the supporting character. In Asian cinema, we are treated by the camera as if we are fully, messily, complicatedly human.

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#StarringAffirmativeAction: How #StarringJohnCho Debunks Recent Asian American Complaints Against Ivy League Universities

June 13, 2016
Artwork submitted to #StarringJohnCho. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Artwork submitted to #StarringJohnCho. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

By Guest Contributor: Christopher M. Lapinig

Are you all about the #StarringJohnCho posters, the Photoshop phenomenon that reimagines posters for recent Hollywood blockbusters with actor John Cho in their leading-man roles? Then you should be equally as excited about supporting race-conscious affirmative action in college admissions, too. 

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Forget Leo — One of these actors should play Rumi!

June 7, 2016
A painting of Rumi (left) and Leonardo DiCaprio (right).
A painting of Rumi (left) and Leonardo DiCaprio (right).

By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)

I was slightly jet lagged on my commute home Monday night. So, at first, I thought the stream of tweets invading my timeline buzzing about Leonardo DiCaprio possibly playing the beloved Sufi poet Rumi were part of some sort of elaborate joke. After all, Hollywood must be paying at least a little bit of attention to the 2016 Oscars controversy and online campaigns like #whitewashedOUT and #AAIronFist, right? RIGHT?

Actually, no.

The Guardian reports that screenwriter David Franzoni (who also worked on the Oscar-winning film Gladiator) has signed on to work on a new biopic based on the life of the 13th century Persian poet. Franzoni says he hopes the film will challenge anti-Muslim stereotypes… by casting non-Muslims to play the film’s primary roles.

“Franzoni and Brown said they would like Leonardo DiCaprio to play Rumi, and Robert Downey, Jr. to star as Shams of Tabriz,” the Guardian reports.

Let’s pause for a second here, and give everyone a moment to get their heads up off their desks, which is where I’m sure they are after reading that last sentence.

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11 AAPI Student Films to Start Off Your APA Heritage Month!

May 5, 2016
Screen capture from "Banana Trip", short film by Hyungjik Lee at Florida State University.
Screen capture from “Banana Trip”, short film by Hyungjik Lee at Florida State University.

This week, the Twittersphere became embroiled in discourse (through #whitewashedOUT) over mainstream Hollywood’s Whitewashing of several traditionally Asian and Asian American characters — including the casting of Emma Stone as Allison Ng in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell live-action adaptation, and Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Marvel’s Dr. Strange. While discourse is important to activate and engage the community, I’ve long felt that our community must do more: we disentangle ourselves from considering only popular culture media, and throw more of our support towards independent AAPI actors and filmmakers.

Along these lines, KQED — a public access radio and television station servicing Northern California — has put together a playlist of student films for 2016’s Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. The films were originally aired as part of the station’s Film School Shorts, a half-hour program which showcases student film projects. Assembled as a Film School Shorts APAHM2016 playlist, the collection highlights eleven fantastic short films by student filmmakers who span the AAPI diaspora. Included in the lineup are shorts like the Student Academy Award-winning Above the Sea, as well as and Pagpag (The Refuse), directed by John Paul Su, who was named the Director Guild of America’s Best Asian-American Filmmaker for his work on the short. My personal favourites are the quirky So You’ve Grown Attached by Kate Tsang, and the adorable heart-warming animated short Steadfast Stanley.

After the jump, all eleven films are embedded for your enjoyment (or you can go directly to the playlist on YouTube, or Vimeo)! Please watch and share!

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