Hawaii Film Blog

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Technical Difficulties at HIFF, on Blog

Ty Sanga's "Follow the Leader"

Not a good few days for technology--first there were some technical and operational glitches at the Hawaii International Film Festival in its first few days (understaffed, overworked, underpaid), and then blogger was down yesterday, so I couldn't tell you about HIFF. Ugh!

Anyway, so yes, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu's "Babel" kept going in and out of focus on opening night, and Eric Steel's "
The Bridge" kept stopping and starting, until the projectionist finally declared the tape defective, and sent someone to pick up the original submission screener. The film, a documentary about people who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge to their deaths (captured by hidden, and sometimes manned, cameras) was quite a downer (surprise). What was disturbing to me was that the person the film chose to focus on the most was the one with the most dramatic suicide footage. Granted, the filmmakers did address the issue of how the behind-the-lens gaze disconnects the photographer from his subject.

Next, I saw "
Undoing" by Chris Chan Lee (who also did "Yellow"), an Asian American noir set in L.A. It was nice to see so many Asian faces speaking American English on the screen, and the production values of the film were superb--producer Karin Chien, who was in attendance at the screening, said the film took 20 days to shoot, but over a year in post. Karin previously produced Greg Pak's "Robot Stories" and Michael Kang's "The Motel," which just opened last Friday in San Francisco. Her upcoming features include "Following Rosa" filmed in the Philippines, and "Jack and Diane" set in NYC.

I capped off Saturday night with "
The Banquet," a Chinese adaptation of "Hamlet" starring Zhang Ziyi. The screening was sold out--oversold, in fact! So folks had to be turned away and given refunds. Beautiful choreography, production design, and costumes, and solid acting, but a little thin overall. Interestingly, the male lead was played by Chinese American Daniel Wu, born and raised in San Francisco, who says that he has no plans to enter Hollywood because it still does not know how to treat Asian males.

Last night, I saw Sundance fave "
Eve and the Firehorse" by Vancouver-based Julia Kwan, about a little Chinese Canadian girl's confusion over religion and culture. Julia was there for a Q&A at the end. Unfortunately, there was no mic and the theater's background music played during half of the Q&A. Plus, during my intro of the film (I'm volunteering to do some of the intros as a favor to HIFF), I was heckled by a couple of rude, persnickety octogenarians who made snide comments about my not shouting loud enough (was doing the best I could do without a mic)--"Are you talking to yourself?" was the exact quote. I felt like I was back in NY, not Hawaii. Where's the aloha spirit? Mahalo to the hipster dude in the first row who came to my defense! Anyway, back to Julia. I asked whether Vancouver's role as Hollywood North has benefitted its local independent filmmakers. She said that while it's really great for technicians and craftspeople to have a steady stream of jobs, it doesn't really do much for the above-the-line folks. Local Canadian writers, directors, producers, and actors still take the backseat to imported Hollywoodites. Sound familiar? But she did say Vancouver's indie film scene is emerging.

Finally, I saw "
Hawaii Panorama 4: Academy for Creative Media Night," which truly pleasantly surprised me. It seems that the films coming out of the nascent UH film school are getting better and better every year. There was some beautifully deft cinematography exhibited by Jay Hubert in "Chopsticks" by Henry Mochida and by Justin Adams in "Dao" by Jay Hubert. It's no wonder Jay is currently a cinematography student at the Beijing Film Academy. Roger Nakamine exhibited an adeptness at using local humor in "Sore Shoulders and Aching Jaws," "My Dad's Story" was a moving portrait of a local Filipino immigrant--director Joelle-Lyn Sarte's dad, Ty Sanga has a way with directing kids in "Follow the Leader," and Brian Makanoa put a 35mm lens on a Panasonic DVX100, and mixed that footage with 8mm footage to make a painterly experimental film, "Eve." HIFF may add another screening of HP4--check hiff.org for updates on that.

OK, today I'm seeing Halekulani Golden Orchid nominee "Memories of Matsuko" by Nakashima Tetsuya ("Kamikaze Girls") and "The Host" by Bong Joon-ho, which I cannot wait to see! See you there, and don't heckle me during the intros!

Hawaii Films at HIFF
Hawaiinuiakea Film Festival
>> LVHIFF 2005: A Retrospective
>> Asian American Film Festivals
>> Hollywood Studio System is "Inherently Racist"
Cultural Insensitivity
Indigenous Pacific Storytelling
Canada Back in Business
>> Local Filmmakers Left in the Dust
The Meaning of "Independent"
>> Honolulu: Hipster Haven

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