Not all of the youth-oriented films in this collection of shorts deal strictly with the angst and the challenge of reconciling your self-image with images of Asians in mainstream society. One or two, perhaps, but definitely not all. North American Asian directors – many youths themselves – depict youth at play, growing, learning and living.
Why It’s A Good Thing
Wek Kim | USA | 2002 | Video | 3:00 | Colour | Toronto Premiere
“Hey, show us your kung-fu moves!” If you’re an Asian who’s grown up in North America, chances are you’ve heard obnoxious requests like this at one time or another. But what would happen if all Asians really did know martial arts?
Awards: Honorable Mention, 2002 Seattle Times Three-Minute Masterpiece digital-movie contest
Wes Kim is the writer and director of award-winning short films Profiles in Science (which screened at the 2002 Reel Asian Film Festival) and Vision Test. The director of the 2003 Northwest Asian American Film Festival, Wes lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and two sons.
May Chew* | Canada | 2003 | Video | 11:00 | Colour | Toronto Premiere
To Chinese kids growing up in North America, it’s a familiar pattern: spend the better part of your childhood denying your ethnicity; then spend your post-adolescence coming to terms with and even embracing it. A documentary examination of what it means to be both Chinese and Canadian.
Awards: First prize, 2003 Centretown Film Festival; Third prize, One World Film Festival’s World Inter-Action Mondiale
May Chew is a fourth-year student in film and video production and English at Toronto’s York University. This is her first film.
Caine Chow | Canada | 2003 | Video | 9:00 | Colour
“Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97, wear sunscreen!” So begins the commencement speech that Kurt Vonnegut never delivered, though the words resonated and made the rounds on the Internet for months before the real author was revealed. In 1999, director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) set the prose to music and the single became a hit, which Caine Chow has used as the basis for this fond farewell to the class of ’03 at Toronto’s Riverdale Collegiate.
Toronto-based Caine Chow has produced and directed 30 short films with Lucas Cheong.
Auditions to be the Next Canadian
Samuel Chow* | Canada | 2003 | Video | 2:00 | Colour
Can you hit the same notes as Celine Dion? Does that make you Canadian? Join the fun as a first-generation Chinese-Canadian auditions for the chance to be the Next Canadian.
Samuel Chow was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada at age nine. His first film, Banana Boy, premiered at the 2003 Inside Out Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival.
Swim With Me
Iona Ng, Eva Yao Shan, Liz Lee | Canada | 2003 | Video | 18:00 | Colour | Toronto Premiere
A young man faces his own prejudices when he finds out that one of his friends is HIV-positive. Written, edited and directed by – and also starring – six youths aged 16 to 24, Swim With Me is a first film that addresses tough issues in an accessible and endearing manner.
Iona Ng, Eva Yao Shan and Liz Lee all live in Toronto. Swim With Me was the result of their participation in the HIV/AIDS Video Youth Project, an initiative of Trinity Square and Video Scadding Court Community Centre, whose goal was to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among Chinese-Canadian youths and their families.
Helena: Helen’s Journey Through Mexico
Helen Cho | USA | 2003 | Video | 17:00 | Colour | World Premiere
American high school student Helen Cho spent one summer travelling to remote regions of Mexico, learning about the lives of indigenous peoples – and herself – in the process.
Helen Cho is a first-generation Korean-American who strongly believes that people like her aren’t represented in mainstream media, and she plans to do something about it.
Kuang Lee* | USA | 2001 | Video | 27:00 | Colour | Canadian Premiere
EastSide delves into the lives of three professional skateboarders – two Americans and a Canadian – who have ended up in Asia for their various personal reasons. Interspersing interviews with lots of footage of the film subjects doing their thing (backed by a soundtrack that includes music by the director himself), EastSide shines a light on skateboarding subculture in parts of Asia. After watching this film, you might look at those unemployed ’boarders in cement parking lots with newfound respect.
Awards: Bronze Award for Best Sports Film, 2003 Houston Worldfest
Kuang Lee was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and raised in southern California. He has a B.A. in English literature from UCLA and an M.F.A. in film production from Loyola Marymount University. While in film school, Kuang wrote and directed Heroes and Hae Lu, two short films that toured the international film-festival circuit.
Don’t Toe the Line or Toe Your Own Line (Huron)
Will Kwan | Canada | 2002 | Video | 6: 00 | Colour
An artist injects a bit of life into the dreary, everyday lives of downtown Toronto pedestrians. “This street painting is an attempt to delineate a temporary space of play and performance within the official lines of the city.”
Awards: The Steam Whistle Homebrew Award, for a local emerging artist, 2003 Images Festival Will Kwan is a performance artist and writer interested in public art and street interventions. His performance work has been presented on sidewalks and public grounds throughout Toronto.
Will is currently pursuing his M.F.A. at Columbia University’s School of the Arts in New York City.
Patrick Epino | USA | 2003 | 16MM | 3:00 | Colour | Canadian Premiere
A man comes to terms with a critical part of himself and his Asian-ness.
Patrick Epino is a graduate student in San Francisco State University’s cinema department. He has made several short films and recently completed his first feature, Fish in the Barrel.
*Directors in attendance