Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jason goes to CAAMFest--Day 3

After skipping opening night and day 2, I was up in Japantown for a day off films, mostly shorts.

The first program was Flipside, films that show a different perspective.
D. ASIAN: The perspective of a little boy in 1986 who wants to identify as Asian although he looks white. Turns out he has a pretty compelling case.
DANDEKAR MAKES A SANDWICH: The perspective of a man in a supermarket who makes the most of the free samples. Turns out he has a good reason.
GIVE IT UP: The perspective of a stand-up comedian who jokes about being bad at relationships, drinking a lot, and having a small penis. Turns out he's at least telling the truth about the drinking.
HYPEBEASTS: The perspective of teenagers waiting overnight for the hottest new sneakers to go on sale. Turns out black and Asians don't get along, especially when cutting in line is involved. Things escalate quickly.
MY HOT MOM GANDHI: The perspective of a couple deciding what to wear for Halloween. Like should they do something political like white-face? Turns out they decide it's a bad idea even though it got the best laughs in the movie.
N. KING: The perspective of a couple of Hawaiian youth plotting to rob a store. Turns out at least one had some moral qualms and makes an important decision.
THE OTHER SIDE: The perspective of the hero cop (white guy) taking on a gang of bad guys (all Asians.) Turns out, when you get a glimpse of the other side, thinks aren't so black and white (or yellow and white.)
WOMAN IN FRAGMENTS: The perspective of a dancer who is technically talented but not expressive enough on stage. Turns out it takes a little vulnerability to be a better dancer.

The next program was Family Ties, shorts about family.
COLD SPRING: A father learns his estranged daughter is getting married, and tries to get back into her life and get invited to the wedding.
GIAP'S LAST DAY AT THE IRONING BOARD FACTORY: A loving tribute to the filmmaker's mom, a Vietnamese refugee who settled in the American midwest and made it her home, working for decades in an ironing board factory.
JAYA: Inspired by a true story. A young Indian street girl, posing as a boy to avoid being raped and forced into prostitution. She and her friends run pick-pocketing schemes while she searches for her real father.
MAMA TANG: An old woman in San Francisco tries to hold on to her Chinese way of life while her Americanized son is too busy for her.
MY FATHER, FRANCIS: A documentary about filmmaker Casey Mecija's father who works in a factory but has some time during breaks to make stuff--chairs, toothbrush holders, etc.--with recycled material in the factory. A sweet look at a couple of makers making stuff together.
TO SIT WITH HER: Without being able to speak the same language, a trans-male and his Vietnamese grandmother still share a sweet bond.

Then the next program was Short Shorts, shorts that were programmed by the Short Shorts Film Festival in Japan, and they brought their best here to CAAMFest. I don't want this to sound like a criticism against the CAAMFest shorts programming team, but this was easily my favorite of the shorts programs I saw. So...take that as a compliment to the Short Shorts programming team instead.
IN THE TREE HOUSE: The story of a family where everyone has their own agenda and their own little world. And then it's all disrupted when mom decides to take an unannounced trip, leaving them enough food for a few days. By the time she's back, they're much closer as a family.
AN INNOCENT BEAT: In a world where children aren't allowed outside except to go to school, one girl travels to the forbidden zone, with dangerous levels of radiation. And there she finds something amazing about stopped clocks and heartbeats. Mind...blown.
A SOCCER STORY: Kids playing soccer on Kozu Island (technically part of Tokyo.) When one player on the opponent's team gets injured, a benchwarmer switches sides and gets his time to shine. But friendship and team loyalty get tested.
STROBOSCOPE: A guy just trying to return a briefcase to a police station gets roped into pretending he's a movie director taking people on a location scouting tour of Ibaraki Prefecture. A clever story with a lot of twists and humor.
TWO JULIETS OF VERONA: When the Verona (formerly girls-only) school of culinary arts and nursing gets its first male student, their annual musical gala is set as Romeo and Juliet, and it becomes a crazy competition with surprising results.

Then I took a brief break from shorts to see a feature documentary, TOP SPIN. It follows the path to the 2012 Olympics for three young American athletes--ping pong players (okay, "table tennis" if you wanna get technical.) Ariel and Lily are both from the Bay Area (if I recall correctly, Ariel is from Fremont/San Jose, and Lily is from Palo Alto.) Michael is from New York, and the youngest U.S. champion ever. They're all ping pong prodigies...by American standards. That's the thing, Table Tennis is one of the few Olympic sports the U.S. has never even won a medal in (along with badminton and handball) and one that China absolutely dominates. So...I guess no surprise that Lily and Ariel are both Chinese-American (Mike, on the other hand, is about as white as you can get.) Cool, whatever, they were born here, live here, play for America...they're as American as I am, and I probably wouldn't even mention it if it wasn't in an Asian-American film festival (well, that and one throw-off laugh line in the film about Mike being white.) Anyway, back to the film. It shows the difficulties of balancing training, school, and a social life. And it shows how they put absolutely everything into being the best. As for the Olympic trials...well, you could watch the movie and have the experience I did of watching it unfold as if it was happening right then...or you could look up the results online somewhere. It doesn't really matter, what's important is this was a fun, engaging movie with some very likable young people and a positive outlook about the future of U.S. Table Tennis.

And then back to shorts, with Falling, shorts about love, for good or for bad.
AFTER US: After a breakup, a woman's inner voice talks her through the pain, recovery, and ice cream until she's ready to go out there again.
COMFORT GIRLS: This music video uses comedy to explore the harsh realities of Korean "comfort girls" in WWII, and the harsh realities for women today trying to make men happy (like plastic surgery and a submissive demeanor.)
IF YOU LIVED HERE, YOU'D BE HOME ALREADY: A question of love, home, and marriage as a long time marriage that has fallen into a routine is shaken up when the wife goes to a open house.
MISS GUIDANCE - EP. 4: PERSEVERING: An episdoe of the webseries. In this one, part-time guidance counselor Nilly resists a mandatory social event. Things are awkward until she meets a guy. To be continued?
NEXT LIKE: A funny short using social media to describe different types of women, while a guy gets over his breakup with the help of his soon-to-be brother-in-law.
NO NO, HOMO: Two guys out at the movies...the matinee. They're the only ones in the theater. But is it a date or just a couple of guys watching a movie. The only way to find out is to reach for something other than the popcorn.
SEED OF NEED: A woman has traveled the world, had adventures and romance. But she hasn't found herself. Not until she lets go of everything.
TOUCH OF ESSENCE: And old couple, both with health issues, near the end of their lives. Each makes a last attempt to do something for the other. A beautiful, tender look at the tail end of a life of love.
TRAMP: A beggar in the Seoul subway gets a big surprise from a visitor from his past.

Total Running Time: 469 minutes
My Total Minutes: 390,784

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