Good things grow in Ontario. This year’s Artist Spotlight focuses on a bumper crop of up-and- coming directors from the province, and if the wide range in style, tone and content of these artists are any indication, we can expect a diversity of visions from a new wave of talented young Asian- Canadian directors in the years to come. Some, like Samuel Kiehoon Lee (How to Make Kimchi According to My Kun Umma) stay close to home and hearth to revisit that holiest of trinities of every immigrant community: family, food and culture. In the process, Lee gives us a charming look at the genuine affection between himself the film’s main subject – who also happens to be his aunt. Others, like Hohyun Joung (Joung Family Girls) and Lester Alfonso (Trying to Be Some Kind of Hero) look farther afield, going back to Korea and the Philippines, respectively, to give us unsentimental, clear-eyed views of their families. Unlike the other directors in the Artist Spotlight, Ho Tam (She Was Cuba) does not deal explicitly with his personal history, nor does he employ his own documentary images. Instead, he mines existing footage from other films to tell the story of a Cuban woman in Canada. The feelings of melancholy, nostalgia and loss evoked in his piece will be familiar to anyone from an immigrant culture who has ever romanticized or longed for their homeland – or at least the idea of it. One imagines that for director Romeo Candido (The Kuya Medley) holding on to the idea of an idealized homeland is far less appealing than the fact of being at home wherever you are; and the group of talented young Filipino- Canadian men from Toronto featured in his impressionistic slice-of-life documentary display the confidence that comes with this kind of attitude. As Candido follows the Toronto-based Kuya boys doing the rounds, singing in the boardrooms of Manhattan glass towers for record company executives, we see both the struggle and the promise of what it means to be young, gifted and yellow, in the here and now. Good things grow in Ontario indeed.
How to Make Kimchi According to My Kun Umma
Samuel Kiehoon Lee* | Canada | 2002 | Video | 18:00 | Colour
A charming, not-so-instructional video on how to make this famous Korean dish. The not-so-secret ingredient? Love.
Awards: Best Short Documentary, 2003 San Diego Asian Film Festival; 1st prize, 2003 Cabbagetown Short Film and Video Festival
Samuel Kiehoon Lee is a Toronto-based Korean-Canadian filmmaker. He has been making films for over five years; How to Make Kimchi According to My Kun Umma is his first non-fictional film.
Joung Family Girls
Hohyun Joung* | Canada | 2002 | Video | 15:00 | Colour | World Premiere
An intimate look at the emotional effects of Confucian values on a Korean family desperately wanting a male heir, and their influence on family politics.
Hohyun Joung is currently at York University working on an M.F.A. in film and video. Her other works include Stone Cold Noodle Soup (2002), Homesickness (2002) and I, My, Me, Mine (2003).
Trying to Be Some Kind of Hero
Lester Alfonso* | Canada | 2001 | Video | 37:00 | Colour
To discover the true identity of his grandfather, the filmmaker goes back to the Philippines, where he uncovers the hidden story of lives complicated by war.
Lester Alfonso has worked in New York, Toronto and Europe as videographer, editor, producer and director of non- fiction and experimental films and commercial work and has collaborated with singer/songwriter Tammy Foreman. Links to MP3s and short films are available on their website, www.originalplastic.com.
The Kuya Medley
Romeo Candido* | Canada | 2003 | Video | 9:00 | Colour | World Premiere
The question of the day is whether big-wig U.S. record company execs will be able to wrap their heads around Kuya: two pairs of Filipino-Canadian brothers with smooth, creamy voices and looks to match. Stay tuned for the answer.
Romeo Candido is a Canadian-born Filipino multitasker. His directorial feature-length debut, Lolo’s Child (which opened the 2002 Reel Asian Festival), won the prestigious Ishmael Bernal Award in the Philippines. His second film, Dancers! Pick up Your Bamboos!, his homage to the Fiesta Filipina Dance Troupe of Canada, and The Kuya Medley are currently touring the film festival circuit.
She Was Cuba
Ho Tam* | Canada | 2003 | Video | 16:00 | Colour
director in attendance Referencing the Soviet masterpiece I Am Cuba, found footage featuring dreamy landscapes of the Caribbean island adds poetry to the story of a Cuban woman in Canada.
Ho Tam was born in Hong Kong and educated in Toronto and works in a diverse mix of disciplines, including painting, video, print and public art, which has exhibited in various cities across North America.
*Directors in attendance