Brian Hu, Artistic Director, San Diego Asian Film Festival
Rosetta Sciacca Volkov, Board Member, San Diego Italian Film Festival, and author of the blog Sicily: Cuisine, Culture, and Tradition
Related Story: Film Festival Season
This is K PBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Fall is a busy season for film festivals and right now we are in the midst of two thriving festivals. The San Diego Asian film Festival now in its 13th year, and the San Diego Italian film Festival now in its sixth year. Here with me today to discuss the events are my guests from the San Diego Asian film Festival it is artistic director Brian Hu, and Brian, welcome.
BRIAN HU: Great to be back.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Rosetta Sciacca Volkov with the city good time film Festival Rosetta, welcome.
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: Thank you.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You both have had your opening night somebody, Brian, the Asian film Festival took something of a gamble and it paid off for you this year. Tell us about trying the new and larger venue of the bridge together.
BRIAN HU: Yeah we are normally at the Hazard Center standard multiplex and as you probably know the trend now for movie theaters is more screens, smaller auditoriums and that's great if you're running a multiplex and you want tighter diversify your product and get as many audiences as you can as efficiently as you can but I think we missed out of the old collective experience
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Communities experience of going to the theater
BRIAN HU: We found a film called don't stop believing that sort of fit that, we got everybody involved and everyone can share together and I think it worked, we left it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Rosetta what was the Italian film Festival opening night like?
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: We had a wonderful opening night, full house and we previewed a lovely film called welcome to the South that deals with this issue of immigration in a very comical and funny way.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now if you could let me start with you Brian, can you give us some of the nuts and bolts of your festival, how many films, what menus etc.
BRIAN HU: Yet it is currently running November 1 through the ninth, nine days 150 films from 25 countries. Everything from me wrong all the way to Japan down to Indonesia, but also films by Asians, the Asian diaspora all over the world. And we are headquartered at the ultra Star in hazard Center. But we also have screenings is your UCSD, we have reprogrammed this past weekend at UCSD we were at MO PA yesterday with you telling film Festival actually and we have a screening is (inaudible) later this week.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Rosetta, the same question to you, where people can see them that type of thing.
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: Our film Festival runs October 26 through November 11 and the films are pretty much spread out through the city however most of our films take place at MO PA in Balboa Park. We've had some films at the Bridge theater in North Park and we've also shown films at the Paloma theater in Encinitas.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: My question to you was going to be to you both, and you feel like you are in competition with each other, but it doesn't sound as if you do. And why not?
BRIAN HU: Well normally we are not exactly at the same time as we are this year. So what happened was, determines the Italian film Festival came up to us and said we have a film called should be in the poets it's a telling film but it's about a Chinese migrant worker there. Do you want to take a look at it and I saw it, I left it at first he thought we would co-presented, but the meantime what we share the screening I left the movie and I think our audience is well it's in our program booklet it's in their program booklet and our audiences came onto the screen and it was assured Italian/Asian film Festival and we take as many chances to cross over as possible and I think that's really important as well to have the same goals in town just creating subculture.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And also Rosetta, there is enough of an identity for each of the film festival so that they are not just going to blend together as some amorphous thing. The Italian film Festival is really well known not only for the quality of the films but for the entire experience, right?
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: Exactly we often liken our festival to a piazza, which is a public square that is found in any Italian neighborhood, town. And this idea that everyone brings something to the piazza and everyone takes away something from that experience and that is very much how we approach our festival.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And also there's food.
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: There is never an Italian gathering without food and I could probably, Brian will attest to that for the Chinese culture as well.
BRIAN HU: Oh yeah we've been eating very well at our festivals.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now as part of your masters program, bring, you should the 1972 martial arts classic five fingers of death on its 40th anniversary. What is important about showing the stones?
BRIAN HU: First of all we want to introduce the audience is to the history of Asian cinema and in this particular case it's a history of Asian cinema in the United States. That's a film that was actually just a regular martial arts film that came out in 1972 in Hong Kong but Warner Bros. At the time started getting excited about martial arts in the US because of TV shows like kung fu they parted over read a bit, dumped it the five fingers of death and it went to number one at the US box office unthinkable now the foreign film could be number one. And the director
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Was it dubbed or subtitled?
BRIAN HU: It was dubbed, reedited and probably the story was nonexistent by the end of the edits but the martial arts were fantastic and still are, and we had a packed house for that director came out the director actually lives in La Jolla and we also wanted to highlight the fact that San Diego there are these ties between San Diego and Asia through the directors who are now here.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I think Asian film has now gone beyond the stereotype of the martial arts film, right? Tell me what kind of different segments or features you have in this particular film Festival.
BRIAN HU: We pride ourselves on actually showing as few martial arts films as possible. I mean, my art board and our audiences would be extremely unhappy if we didn't show martial arts films but we want to show that Asian cinema can be romantic comedies, they could be tearjerkers and romantic films, they could be anything art films, documentaries and we will go out of our way to try to show a diversity of styles and forms.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So, Rosetta, Brian has had his five fingers of death kind of a classic, are we going to be seen Italian classics during the film festival?
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: We have been seeing many Italian classics one is that particularly beautiful and stands out for me is a film called Passione, which was directed by John Turturro, the actor, filmed in Naples, absolutely beautiful. Dealt with the music of Naples and it showed the many influences from all over the world on this music that was so engaging. I think that was probably one of the highlights of our festival.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well you know as perhaps Asian films can be stereotyped in one way, Italian films can be stereotyped and 1082 if you don't think about Fellini, maybe you can think about love stories, or things of that nature. But you have a full spectrum in this festival is well, don't you?
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: Absolutely. We have films by directors like Emanuel (Crialisi) that deals with current issue of migration and northern migration from Africa through Sicily into Europe. These are very tough subjects for Italians and for the European Community. We've had comedies. We've had absolutely visually stunning movie that we had last night actually and the poet, so yes, quite a diversity.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Another thing is, we are still in economic hard times. It is still tough for some arts organizations. Both of your events seem to be thriving and I wonder what you attribute that to, Rosetta?
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: I think when you think about it, movies are a window into culture into life. And I think that there is a great interest in that especially in a city like San Diego so, but part of it is being able to show Italian life in all of its many aspects and part of it is that there's a sense of community. I think you cannot go to the a telling film Festival in not feel that. There's just, kind of interest in what there is there and they need to share.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Brian, 13th year, still going strong?
BRIAN HU: Despite the financial hardships I think globalization is escalating so quickly that there such a curiosity and desire to do more of what's happening all around the relegation especially given the rise of China and other nations around there that there is a younger to hear more stories coming out of there and better understand what we are dealing with and we try to present it that way. This is our window to the world. You can travel a show without leaving San Diego. You should still travel to Asia, but we hope that this creates a kind of dialogue that could further a greater curiosity.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now the festival's parent organization the San Diego Asian film foundation just went through a name change. Tell us why that is important?
BRIAN HU: I think there was confusion because you do Asian film foundation sounded Somerset send you Asian film Festival, they realize, didn't know that we did anything else other than the film Festival so we wanted to have another name called Pacific arts movement to highlight the fact that we do more than just film, we want to highlight new experiments in digital media, intersections between music and image. The Pacific, because they want to tie San Diego to the greater region and show how San Diego is actually part of the Pacific and move because there is constant movement between Asia and San Diego but also that there might be a way of using films to further a more just world for San Diego and abroad.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have a big agenda.
BRIAN HU: Yes. it keeps us busy it's more than just a film festival.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Rosetta, I want to ask you is there any connection between San Diego Italian film Festival do you reach out to the artists here in San Diego trying to get their start?
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: Yes I think the answer to that is yes, we do have, our films come from many sources and influence for the festival. Certainly come from all over. We have in the past worked with the Italian Cultural Ctr., Institute rather to acquire films. We are branching out now, where we are working with independent distributors and we have a little more flexibility.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So it gives you a wider amount to choose from. I'm going to ask you and we don't have a lot of time left, but if you could pick one or maybe two or three films that people should not miss before your festival ends, which ones would you pick, correct?
BRIAN HU: So many, but just off the top of my head closing night we have a great Japanese love comedy called love strikes and it's doing extremely well about a mega-nerd is worst nightmare comes true where all the women around him are beautiful and they suddenly take a liking to him and he does know what to do about that. We have another one called Remington and the Curse of the (inaudible) which is a Philippino gay zombie comedy about how all the gays in town are getting killed off and coming back as zombies and there is one man named Remington who's going to fix all that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have 15 seconds for you, Rosetta.
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: I would like to recommend that everybody come see Nessuno mi puo' giudicare, on November 10 and its part of the come to the gala it's absolutely beautiful you will not be disappointed.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank my guests My guests Brian Hu and Rosetta Sciacca Volkov, thanks so much for speaking with us today. I really appreciate it.
ROSETTA SCIACCA VOLKOV: Sure.
BRIAN HU: I appreciate it.