Friday, March 21, 2008

Jason goes to Asianfest--Day 8

Which they called closing night, because it closed in San Francisco. But really, at this point I was barely over halfway through. The "closing night" film was my 18th of the festival, and I still had 11 more to see in San Jose.

Anyway, they had a nice ceremony announcing the winners of the jury awards before the film. "Amal" won best narrative, and that's the San Jose opening night film tonight, so that's cool. Then they showed a video of Joan Chen, star of the closing night film (she couldn't be there because she was back in China filming a movie). And finally on to the film.

"Home Song Stories" is a very autobiographical Chinese-Australian movie (and Australia's submission for best foreign picture Oscar). Director Tony Ayres had a pretty strange mother. She's a beautiful nightclub singer named (and by the way, Joan Chen, pushing 47, is still incredibly sexy) who caught the eye of an Australian sailor. Hence she moved there with her kids (Tony and his older sister May) to stay with "Uncle Bill". She marries him...and leaves him one week later. They go back to China, live with a series of "uncles" until she has no choice to go back to Bill. Bill is either a gigantic sap or the nicest man in the world. But they settle in, despite Bill's mother (who lives with him and takes care of the house when he's out at sea) being none too happy. And so when Rose starts an affair with Joe, a much younger man who works at the Chinese restaurant, Bill's mom kicks them out. For the first half of the movie it's actually kind of funny (the wacky adventures of my slutty mom?) But then it starts to get really dark. Rose takes an overdose of sleeping pills and is rushed to the hospital. Joe starts having more of an eye for May than Rose (ick! Mother-daughter love triangles are bad). Rose gets jealous. More pills, more hospitals. And 40 years later Tony is a writer still struggling to understand his mother. It's a miracle he managed to grow up sane. And it's a very powerful movie that started me laughing and left me crying.

Here's a pic of actor Steven Vidler (Bill) with festival director Chi-hui Yang:


Then it was all over but the awesome closing night party. A few drinks, some good food, chatting with filmmakers and fans.

And now I'm all caught up with this blog. Just in time to go to the Camera 12 for the San Jose opening night.
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