HBO Launches Short Film Contest for AAPI “Visionary” Filmmakers

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

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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Rejecting the Mere Optics of Diversity: Why I Support AAPI Independent Media

A panel from Monstress, by Marjorie Liu, published by Image Comics.
A panel from Monstress, by Marjorie Liu, published by Image Comics.

2015 has been an interesting year for me.

I’ve always identified as a proud fangirl – a lover and connoisseur of all things in nerd and pop culture. I’ve routinely brought my fandom into my writing with pieces that explore the intersection of race and gender with film, television, and comic books. I’ve done my fair share of live-tweeting Walking Dead episodes, and I’ve geeked out with the best of them over comic book superheroes and their live-action incarnations.

But in the last year, I’ve grown disenchanted with mainstream media. I’ve grown to hate the hype. Above all, I’ve developed a frustration with mainstream studios, and our preoccupation as communities of colour with major studio blockbuster films as a backdrop for enacting social justice and racial equality.

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“East of Hollywood”: It’s Not Easy Being an Asian American Actor When You’re Not the Asian Non-Asians Think You Are

Production photo from "East of Hollywood". (Photo credit: "East of Hollywood")
Production photo from “East of Hollywood”. (Photo credit: “East of Hollywood”)

We’ve finally entered December of 2015, and I have one end-of-the-year prediction to make: expect a deluge of year-in-review think pieces calling 2015 a Renaissance Year for the Asian American actor. Hell, a lot of these articles have already been written. There’s this one. And, this one. Oh, and this one. Hell, I’ll probably even write one before this year is out.

It’s safe to say that if you’re an Asian American who cares about seeing Asian American actors get work, 2015 was the year for you. Fresh Off The Boat is midway through their critically acclaimed second season and celebrating news of a full season order. In contrast to the multi-cam format of FOTB, Ken Jeong debuted a refreshingly conventional family sitcom in Dr. Ken, bringing ABC’s Asian American-led primetime sitcom offerings to two. On Sundays, ABC also airs Quantico, which stars the impeccably-coifed Priyanka Chopra as an FBI recruit- turned-agent- turned-fugitive (check out recurring guest contributor Lakshmi Gandhi’s weekly recaps of Quantico every Monday morning right here on Reappropriate). And, over at Netflix, Aziz Ansari stars in Master of None, a show he co-created with producer Alan Yang.

But what if you’re an Asian American actor whose name isn’t Ken Jeong or Aziz Ansari? For these folks, Hollywood is still a tough place to find work, where few decision makers can imagine an Asian face being worn by anyone who isn’t the nerd, the ninja, the prostitute, the gangster, or the foreigner.

Now, a really fantastic independent short film — East of Hollywood — uses comedy to explore what it’s really like being a struggling Asian American actor in Hollywood.

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“She Lights Up Well”: New Independent Film Written, Directed & Starring Asian American Woman In a Story About Self-Discovery

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The trailer feels like Girls meets This Is Where I Leave You. In She Lights Up Well, Sophie (played by the film’s writer and director, Joyce Wu) is a struggling Asian American actress living in New York City, and whose last big break was for an undocumented massage parlour worker and who is forced by mounting bills to move back home and into her parents’ house in Detroit. “This is just temporary,” Sophie insists to anyone who will listen, “I’m just saving up enough money to move back to New York.”

There, Sophie finds herself drawn into directing the local community theatre’s production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado”, after the company’s original director unexpectedly quits. Compelled to save the production and protect the theatre from closure by city council, and smitten when she reunites with an old high school crush (Zach, played by Sean Kleier), Sophie finds herself on a journey of renewal and self-discovery (trailer after the jump).

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