Ford, Ferrari, And 20 Best Asian American Films
Cinema Junkie / November 8, 2019
It's crazy gearheads to crazy rich Asians as Cinema Junkie goes from the Le Mans track to debating the best in Asian American films from the past two decades. First up, director James Mangold discusses his new film "Ford v Ferrari," about the showdown between the two car icons in 1966 at the 24-hour Le Mans race. It may be called "Ford v Ferrari" but the story is really more about American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles who collaborated on designing and racing the car.
Then San Diego Asian Film Festival artistic director Brian Hu talks about the L.A. Times list he helped curate of the 20 best Asian American films of the past 20 years. "Better Luck Tomorrow" topped the list but you might be surprised by some of the other films in the canon.
Speaker 1: 00:00 You're gonna build a car to beat Ferrari with a phone? Correct.
Speaker 2: 00:12 [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 00:12 how long did you tell them that you needed? Two, 300 years. 90 days.
Speaker 2: 00:23 [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 00:23 this isn't the first time Ford motors gone to war. We know how to do more than push paper. Go ahead, Carol.
Speaker 3: 00:31 Go to war. The film may be called Ford versus Ferrari, but that's a little bit of a misdirection because it's less about those famous brands and more about two men, car designer, Carroll Shelby and driver Ken miles, who designed and race the Ford that would challenge Ferrari at the 1966 Lumon in France.
Speaker 1: 00:57 [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 00:57 welcome to listener supported KPBS cinema junkie podcast on Betha Mondo. Today we're going to hit the track at Lamont to find out what it takes to push a car and a driver to the limit during that celebrated 24 hour rates as director James Mangold talks about his new film, Ford versus Ferrari. Then I discussed the recent LA times list of the 20 best Asian American films of the past 20 years with San Diego Asian film festival, artistic director, Brian, who he initiated the list with film critic Justin Chang as the festival prepared to celebrate two decades of showcasing Asian and Asian American films. But before we wave the green flag to set this podcast in motion, we need to take the first of two short breaks. So hold tight and keep that engine running. And I'll be right back to speak with James Mangold, director of Logan walk the line and now Ford versus Ferrari.
Speaker 1: 01:52 [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 01:56 first of all, this is an amazing story. So I was wondering when you first became aware of this Ford Ferrari competition.
Speaker 5: 02:05 Well, I was aware of Carol Shelby and the the, the universe of, of Shelby American for the last 20 years. But I first read a script based on this, this singular adventure in about I think 2010 2011 and I made my best effort to try and get myself attached to it. But unfortunately it was already set up with another director and actors and production team. And then after Logan got I, I kept asking talks about this project and it was suddenly free and jumped on.
Speaker 3: 02:41 And what is it about this story that appealed to you most?
Speaker 5: 02:44 It's a good question. I mean I think that the, for me it's always first with character. I love these characters and I love a story that somehow surprises me. I think for many people in your audience, they're probably going to have about what exactly this movie is from the marketing campaign and it's got, it's a sports movie and I think the story has so many wrinkles and turns and also so many surprises in the sense that you know, in many ways it's not really the story of Ford versus Ferrari. It's the story of Ford versus Ford in the sense that can, can they even get their act together? It's kind of an art versus commerce story, which was something I really responded to of Ken Ken, this crazy dysfunctional band of hot rodders designers, executives beat Nicks, war veterans, a kind of Mavericks kind of all get along enough. And marketing executives all get along enough to kind of put a car on the road that has a chance against somebody. The perfectionistic brilliance of Enzo Ferrari.
Speaker 3: 03:51 Well yeah, I was gonna say the title Ford versus Ferrari almost feels like a misdirection. But those are the probably more recognizable names in the story.
Speaker 5: 03:59 Yeah. And sometimes titles misdirecting is a good thing. I mean I think that the, I I kind of hate nothing more than a movie that tells you exactly what it is and if vital I feel like why go. But the reality is I think you're, you're right. That, that, that it is very much, I mean it is for me a story about many more things beside just, um, these two car Titans taking each other on.
Speaker 3: 04:23 And in terms of the racing and the driving, what was the most important thing that you wanted to convey about that aspect of their world?
Speaker 5: 04:31 Well, I don't even think of it as separate. I mean, the interesting thing is I think, you know, this is, I made a good number of kind of muscular action oriented movies now. And the one thing that always guides me and as I've done it more and more, it becomes a kind of North star for me is the idea that you don't think of the action scenes as any different than a dramatic scene that obviously it's different in process. There's a hundred pieces and there's stunts, there's rigs, there's all this gear involved in order to tell the story and show it at 200 miles an hour on a track, but that the first thing is a director I have to do is answer some essential questions about what is the scene about what's changing for the characters in this scene. You know, there's an old Adagio about directing musicals and writing musicals that you want your characters to change during the songs, meaning you don't want the best musicals have character developments in plot developments inside the music that it isn't that the story and the acting and the character work stops and then people just dance about for five minutes and then the story starts again.
Speaker 5: 05:46 Similarly in my own opinion in action movies, we've gotten to a place now where there's like two minutes of character stuff and then 12 minutes of super expensive CG in city destroying and leaping and jumping and screaming, and then that stops again in two minutes of character stuff that's, I don't want to make movies like that. And so when you asked me what my goal was, it was to solve several problems at once. One was how do I allow the characters to be changing, understand them, be connected to them in the midst of all this action. And the other part was a kind of mystery I was asking myself, which is why I found the gear in the world of cars. Fascinating. I have been singularly bored whenever I try to watch a motor sports on television and that kind of gave me a clue.
Speaker 5: 06:36 You know about how not to shoot it when you're in these kinds of panning or aerial shots. Watching these little red and green and blue and yellow specks travel around the loop. One's going ahead, one's falling behind, one's overtaking another. Now we don't know why. It just seems like we could just as well be watching a kind of a greased pig competition that I don't understand what's going on that's driving why one car's taking over another or not. So my goal became how do I get into the car on the track, in the pit in a way that obviously a live television sporting event would never have this kind of access. And how do I help the audience understand why I'm breaking lightly right now? Why I'm downshifting, why I'm not pushing the car to the limit right now? Why I'm overheating are, are my tires holding in this rain? Can I overtake this guy? Um, the questions and the tactics and the emotional life of the characters while confronting them becomes my absolute priority in how to block and solve and render the action.
Speaker 3: 07:45 And how was it to actually like get that camera inside the car with them and, and to make the viewer feel kind of like they were really a part of that.
Speaker 5: 07:54 It's a challenge, but, but several things have happened in the last 20 years that make it more possible. One is one is, um, just the technology of the cameras themselves that we can now put cameras, um, uh, you either miniature or full size almost anywhere but, but also that the, the rigging, uh, have gotten incredible. I mean there's things, there's devices that have been around for a while now, uh, one called the Russian arm, which is essentially a kind of modified Mercedes. Usually it's a Mercedes minivan with a crane arm on it. They can go over a hundred miles an hour with a, with a kind of motion damp and um, uh, controlled head, um, geared head on it that allows you to S to follow these cars, um, sweep over them, pure inside them, um, inches from them as they're going at high speed as well. Um, that is just stuff that you couldn't do 10 or 15 years ago.
Speaker 5: 08:51 We also build many different GT forties. We had a GT 40 that was essentially kind of like you took a car and sawed it in half at the, at the equator. So you had the front half that was intact where we're a Christian or Matt would be sitting. But behind it you had kind of more of a, it was like a, uh, pickup truck. We had a flat bed area where the camera crew could kind of live and poke into this half a half a car, which still had enough power and engine power to drive. So we would be hurling it through space, but the crew would be able to exist in this kind of a special buck half half car if you will.
Speaker 3: 09:31 And how difficult was it to recreate lemons and, and, and how much, like what was the, the, the trade off between having real footage and then adding and enhancing with visual effects?
Speaker 5: 09:44 Well, we wanted for this movie to ground it as much as we could in reality. And so the cars themselves and the track, the asphalt itself and even the main grand stand at Oman we built. But um, what we also did is, you know what, mom doesn't exist in the form it did in 1960s anymore. So there was really no way to um, to shoot there. We did shoot in the village of Oman where, where the race takes place for the scenes where Christian, um, and matter are arriving and preparing. But uh, but uh, the actual track is actually a kind of cinematic, almost a kind of, um, uh, a cinematic experiment like in the days of the invention of cinema and Russia where you're kind of w there's about six different locations which are all being combined, one on the West coast, the rest on the East coast being combined to form one loop around the tracks or every time you see the cars go around the track, they're passing the main grandstand and pit area, which was shot in [inaudible], California and then traveling by a series of landmarks because the Lumon race track is very famous with a Dunlop bridge and the assets and the Mulsanne straight and the white house corner, et cetera.
Speaker 5: 10:58 Each of them has a very specific and historical look. They are the degree of the turn, the vegetation around the turn, the architecture around the turn on. These were all country roads in France. So we scouted in Georgia for four. These locations, none of which were close by any others. So when you see the, I'm sorry of this long, but when you see a single lap and you're seeing three cars in a certain configuration traveling past the grandstand, the next cut is then going under the Dunlop bridge, which is 4,000 miles away from the grandstand. And the next guy is them rounding the is, which is a whole nother location in Georgia, two hours away from the Dunlop bridge. The most sad is three hours from the last thing and each one of those was a different several days of production. Shooting all the sequences in rain, in dry weather, in noon, light in Dawn, light of the cars in different configurations for the race so that when this whole thing is stitched together, you have the complete feeling of a unified loop, an eight and a half mile hour, eight and a half mile loop of track that feels like it's all in the same place.
Speaker 3: 12:04 And did you involve any of the family members or any of the people who were even peripheral to the story in like your research or in putting this together?
Speaker 5: 12:14 Absolutely. I mean, first of all, the screenwriters got a chance to meet with Carol Shelby before he passed. Um, uh, Charlie Agadoo who's, who's played by Jack McMullan in the movie as a Yara young Scotsman who is a part of the pit crew is, uh, Bentley dealer in Beverly Hills right now, um, in the 60s, I believe. And he was of course very young then and he was with us all the time. Peter Miles who was played by Noah Jupe in the movie. Ken miles son is, uh, also a Southern California resident still and um, helped Christian enormously and all of us, um, with some expertise on what happened. Obviously these races and the facts around them and the development of the GT 40. There's a tremendous amount of research material, um, photographic footage of all kinds interview materials. Uh, Ken miles did many radio interviews and um, so did, obviously the volume material on Carroll Shelby is enormous. So we did a lot
Speaker 3: 13:12 and little details like Carol stealing the stopwatches or dropping a bolt on the, uh, near the pit crew for Ferrari. Were these things that had been researched out or how did you find about those kinds of
Speaker 5: 13:25 yeah, well, they were things that these, they didn't may not have all occurred on that specific race, but there were things they did, um, that, that one of the things that both Carol reminisced to the screenwriters about, but also all our other drivers. By the way, we also had the sons of many of the real drivers, um, uh, driving on our, uh, driving stunts and playing, in some cases their own, their own fathers in the movie, all to a man. All these racers talked about how the pit culture during races is one where everyone's playing head games with each other all the time, trying to convince the other pits that their car is breaking down, trying to undermine their competence, screw them up, um, in any way possible. It's a, I mean, what else are you gonna do with 24 hours, literally six feet from your competition except trying to figure out how to freak them out.
Speaker 3: 14:16 And talk a little bit about Matt Damon and Christian Bell playing these roles. What did you see in them that made them right for these parts?
Speaker 5: 14:23 Well, I mean you're talking about that factors alive in my opinion. Um, so seeing them is pretty easy and I've known both of them forever. I mean in Matt's case, I've known him since the middle nineties and in Christian's case almost as long and we made a movie together in, in three 10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe awhile ago. And, and actually have developed a couple of other things together over the years and been friends. And so Ken miles, um, seemed like a home run me for Christian because, because in so many ways, Christian is Ken miles and has huge parts of this character in his DNA. He is British. He is a kind of a working class fella at heart. He loves to race motorcycles, did for many years. He loves his family as a really close knit family as a private man is not particularly into the politics of Hollywood or anywhere else. Um, likes to focus in his, on his work. He loves his work as a perfectionist at his work is also profoundly playful. Even goofy sometimes in, in, in, in his work and has at the same time a kind of natural volatility or combustibility when you're watching him, which it seemed like Ken was viewed as someone who was both playful and kind of dangerous at the same time. All of that made him perfect
Speaker 3: 15:47 and college pushed the car hot Hawaii.
Speaker 2: 15:50 That's right. You have to be calling to the car. You feel the poor thing groaning underneath you. If you're going to push a piece of machinery to the limit and expect it to hold together, you have to have some sense of where that limit is. [inaudible] look out there. Out there is the perfect law. No mistakes. Every gear change every corner. Perfect. [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 16:32 I think so.
Speaker 2: 16:35 [inaudible] most people can't. Most people don't even know it's out there, but it is.
Speaker 5: 16:46 And, and Matt, I've known for a long time, it's kind of a manager is kind of always is as much as he's an actor. I mean he could easily be a director. He is certainly a very successful producer at this point, but he is managing different personalities. Um, his family, his wife, he's, he's, he's, he's thinking very broadly about all that stuff. And I could see in him also, I knew I loved what he did in the Coen brothers movie a few years back and true grit and felt like he could really capture that kind of, um, the salesman and the manager and the operator. That was Carol Shelby.
Speaker 3: 17:22 And one last question. I just wonder if you have any favorite car movies that you grew up with or that you're particularly fond of?
Speaker 5: 17:30 Well, you know, the one I like most, um, I, there's the obvious ones that are most spectacular. Um, Lumon and grand Prix. Uh, they're ones that come to mind first for me. Um, but Bonnie, Delia heart, like a wheel, um, uh, John Caplin movie from I believe the late seventies, early the great movie and closer what I was after, which is the sense that, you know, as I said, I'm not a big motor sports guy. So, and what I am into, what really gets me high making a movie is intimacy, dramatic intimacy, breakthroughs with the actors, unique characters. And one of the things I loved about that movie, um, is that it's, it's as much as it's about racing, it's about the struggles of life, adult life, real life. You know, it's why I think our movie appeals to people who don't give a damn about racing at all. Um, that the, the car and racing itself becomes a kind of metaphor for so many people about, uh, kind of all the compromises you have to make in life when you're trying to accomplish something. And, and the personal side of these characters lives would certainly play as big a role as the racist themselves.
Speaker 6: 18:40 All right, well, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me.
Speaker 5: 18:43 It's been a pleasure.
Speaker 6: 18:44 That was James Mangold, director of Ford versus Ferrari that opens next week. I need to take a second and final break and then I'll be right back to discuss and debate the 20 best Asian American films of the last 20 years with San Diego Asian film festival, artistic director Bryan who in the wake of the surprise box office success of crazy rich Asians and on the Eve of the festivals big two Oh birthday Brian who helped curate the list for the LA times. So cool your engines and then prepare to explore this new Canon of Asian American films. Brian, you are the artistic director of the San Diego Asian film festival. It is celebrating its 20th year this year. You've been there almost half that time. So what kind of changes have you seen or how have you seen the festival grow in that time? Well, it's amazing. When I first arrived in 2011 we were showing films on 35 millimeter prints.
Speaker 6: 19:40 I was lugging these 50 pound boxes for every single film. Now we get films on flash drives. So I was thinking about this year, like we really are the history of film of the last 20 years. Thinking about the material of film we've shown 35 millimeter, we've shown films on tape, on disc now where you get films on hard-drives. We're showing films on virtual reality and that's been part of the fun and challenge because it means we have to constantly adapt. But it also shows sort of the sense of anything as possible, like film is trying to figure itself out and Asian American filmmakers are trying to figure it out where they fit within that. Um, shift in the cinematic landscape and the, we as a film festival are also trying to figure out what can, how, how best to serve our audience now. So Brian, in addition to the San Diego Asian film festival celebrating its 20th anniversary, you were also involved in creating a list of 20 best Asian-American films from the past 20 years working with Justin Chang at the LA times.
Speaker 6: 20:36 How did this project come about? Well, I saw when we were thinking about what to do for our 20th anniversary, the last thing I wanted to do was just play our greatest hits. I feel like that would've been too easy, but I think there's something to be said about bringing back films from the past because these films have been forgotten. Unfortunately, many of them have been forgotten. But I also wanted to make sure this is a national project, that this isn't just for audiences in San Diego. I mean that we believe in our audiences in San Diego. We want us, we want to, um, support them. But this is a conversation that should be happening nationally, especially because we were seeing last year when crazy rich Asians came out. Um, nationally, this is called conversation about, this is the first Asian American film in 20 years or 25 years to be the hall from Hollywood to be in theaters.
Speaker 6: 21:23 And I'm like, you're talking about this. Like that's a huge deal. And it is, I guess, but I didn't, I didn't really care. I mean, I liked crazy rich Asians fine. But, um, to me, the, if it failed, it didn't matter that much to me cause I can fall on, on the fact that we have had so many Asian American films in those 25 years. So why, why people make not talking about those movies as if they never existed or as if we can't get the same kind of pleasures from those films. And then I realized this is a, this is a problem of memory and part of it is Asian-American cinema, Asia and communities have always not, have, have never really loved this concept of the cannon whole idea of Asian American cinema is we hate cannons. We hate that Hollywood cannon. We hate the mainstream cannon.
Speaker 6: 22:08 That's what we make our own films. But I, I've always been of the maybe cause I'm just the cinephile, I love film critics and like I love making lists that making lists as a critical intervention. Um, it's our way of saying, well, this is an alternative cannon. I didn't want it just to be my Canon or PAC artist Canon because I realized that there's people all over the country who like Asian American films for different reasons and all that as legitimate and, and everyone has had very different exposures to Asian American cinema. That's legitimate as well. And I wanted to make sure that film critics were involved, um, because they're ones who have professionally had to be critical. There's so much of Asian American cinema that's just, I mean to put it bluntly, like patting each other on the back from having completed your films. And I've always through the San Diego Asian film festival, um, been against that like we were happy to, to, to, to deny a film if we don't think it's good enough, even if it's playing every other Asian American film festival.
Speaker 6: 23:10 Um, and so I wanted from critics involved, I wanted other curators to kinda like secretly save the film that they've, they've liked the most of these last 20 years because they watch everything. I know this cause I am one. Um, they're the ones who really can have the widest view of what the scene is like even more. The film critics, critics only see what gets that comes out. I intentionally did not want to pull filmmakers, um, filmmakers have to close. And we did a one filmmaker on their Valerie, so, but that's because he's also a critic and scholar. And so I feel like by focusing critics and curators, we're going to get a very interesting selection. And it was fascinating to get the head of running a speci going, um, and just seeing like how, like who is coming out on top. And so I pitched this idea to the LA times.
Speaker 6: 24:00 Um, at first really I just wanted to tell Justin who's a friend of that I want, I wanted to do this. And then that's, I wanted him to be a part of it. And he said, you know what, the LA times should be, should we be doing something like this? The only times doesn't usually do top 20 lists. Um, but he understood the historical importance of a moment like this and a project like this. So really props to Justin for making a case and to the editors at the LA times for, for doing this. And it went viral in its own way. It was controversial and I'm glad because it got conversations going about who is not involved, who, who is not included on this list. And the more important question to me is why weren't they included? What does that mean about our institutions and the way we remember films?
Speaker 6: 24:47 And I'm very proud of the final product and I hope it inspires other lists. Cannons are only as good as the canons that they kind of other alternative cans that they inspire. So before we talk about some of the films that made this list break down, what the criteria was, what films could be included or not? That's a good question because a lot of the people I pulled came back to me and said, well, what about this? Why didn't this count? Uh, I specifically wanted films directed by Asian Americans about Asian-Americans. It throughout the years we've had so many great films, incredible films directed by Asian-Americans that are not about Asian American subjects. For instance, Clovis ALIS films, like um, the writer, we have this rare chance now to be as specific as possible, um, to say, well, what about the stories we tell about ourselves? So that was a criteria I focused it on the United States as opposed to including sort of the transnational work like work in Canada or work by Asian Americans that are set in other countries or set primarily set in other countries or about other countries.
Speaker 6: 25:47 And so we were able to really tackle the question at hand, like what are the best films by and about us? And talk a little bit about the top ones. I was really happy to see Justin Lin's better luck tomorrow because to me this was one of those films that marked that I think turning point in Asian American films where it doesn't have to be just positive role models. It doesn't have to be just about looking very closely at Asian American identity in a kind of conventional sort of way. So this was topping the list? Yeah. Were you happy about that? It was what I expected. And it was on almost every person's list somewhere. Well, weather number one or number 20. Um, yeah, it's, it is. It's great because I'm only gonna film came out. People weren't sure what to do with it. They weren't sure if this is okay. A film. Some audiences don't know if like tomorrow's about a bunch of bad Asian American high schoolers who cheats and who ultimately committed a murder.
Speaker 7: 26:47 It is by tomorrow you get a 51 over to play by the rules. We can make our own CZ money. You'll be fun. Who are putting the laws, supply and demand. It's practice. Then snowball giving bacon going to be a lot of money involved with straight A's while alibis, as long as our Glades were there, we were trusted. You get away with anything. Don't shoot. No shit. Clever. No, you making so much money. We couldn't spend it fast enough. Well, he's picky as some Chinese movie stuff. Hi, I'm Kelly and Fox about us came and went fast and furious. So how does it feel to be famous better than sex? The more notorious you became more of a [inaudible] we got, we didn't know half the people we partied with. What are you guys,
Speaker 6: 27:34 Oh like a math club or something.
Speaker 7: 27:38 [inaudible] you make decisions that lead to other decisions pretty just cock then you don't remember why you made those decisions in the first place. [inaudible]
Speaker 6: 27:51 and when it first came out, the Sundance film festival, people were seeing like how dare you make a movie like this that portrays Asian-American stuff negatively and now it's, it's considered the one, the film that we want to say represents us most and that shows how far we've come in. How, um, the kinds of stories that we want to tell of ourselves. Well, I remember when that came out, there was an incident where I think it was Roger Ebert who had to get up on a chair and say, Justin Lin could make any film you want. It doesn't have to be. And I just remember that was like a big controversy when that happened. I get goosebumps every time I seem to see that video on YouTube. And what were some of the other titles that came up there that you were glad to see? I was really, I was actually surprised and, but very glad to see them.
Speaker 6: 28:35 Um, at number two, a documentary called minding the gap, which came out last year. It was nominee for an Oscar last year about skateboarders in, um, the Chicago area surprise, partly because at once a documentary but also it's not as quote unquote Asian-American as potentially other films. So for Asian-American critics and curators to claim it and say like, this is a film that's largely about black and white skateboarders, the director is Asian-American. He actually becomes a character in the film and a very, very important way, um, which is why I qualified for this list, but nobody said, how dare you, this doesn't qualify. Um, so also showing the broadening of what we mean by Asian American stories. I mean, there were a lot of films in the, in the top 10 or so that were very new, um, crazy rich Asians. The farewell, which is like a thing still in fee was still in theaters when I did the poll.
Speaker 6: 29:25 And I think that goes to show that in the last few years, films like these studies like Columbus, that there was a critical mass around them and people knew to watch them and, and to talk about them and then to think about the implications of these films within an Asian American film movement. And, but really it's the films that are after those movies that excite me because the ones that I was afraid had been forgotten. Um, films like refugee by Spencer Naka SoCo or Columbo, the musical about Richard Wong, one of the great, the great American musicals of the post musical era. Um, and I mean, because these films aren't readily available, they're not enough flicks as far as I know, and I'm pretty sure they're not enough flicks. And it's really not free. Like for, I mean, like they're not streaming. If you subscribe to something they're out of, out on, Oh, they're out of Prince on DVD.
Speaker 6: 30:18 They'd never gotten the Bluray treatment because they were shot in standard definition. Um, and so the could, these adult films are, could easily be left behind even though they're the ones that embody the spirit of Asian American cinema. So perfectly like that. The idea that when you have nothing except your own story, you're going to do everything you can to tell it and you're gonna find all the people around you who are going to put believe in your passion and are going to do it and then do it well and well in a way like coma, the musicals movie that like, I still remember the songs in there, I remember like specific scenes so well, it's part of the memory of the few who saw it when it first came out. And some of those movies where you find out that somebody else has seen it before and you're suddenly, you're immediately friends with them.
Speaker 6: 30:57 Uh, it's, it's, it's that kind of experience. Yeah. So seeing films like that pop up on the list, films like attorney from the fall, um, which is kind of an Epic story of Vietnamese American refugees. Um, but that is not an easily accessible, but there was a whole generation of people at the time you had to see this movie, especially if you're Vietnamese in the United States and you did and you remember it and you kept, you keep that memory alive and some glad that the point of the, of the list, which is to keep memories alive, worked for a movie like that. And there were also a good number of women filmmakers, which was really nice to see. So women have made, it seems almost like there were more women represented as Asian American filmmakers than we sometimes get on just general lists of, you know, films directed by women in Hollywood.
Speaker 6: 31:46 Right. So, I mean, I, I would put the challenge if somebody was making a list of the top 20 American films the last 20 years, like how many of those would be directed by women? And I'm not saying that women haven't made great films in those years, but I feel like the ones that get remembered as great sometimes aren't those movies. Um, and so I'm glad that at least in Asian American community that filmmakers like Mira and I are Gracely, um, and now with Lulu lung that get, that can be that they canonized as in the Pantheon of great Asian-American directors if I think there should have been more action. Basically once you go beyond the top 20, I'm like, Oh wait. But there was that movie too. And there's this movie and, and so, yeah, there's still a lot of, uh, work that can be done.
Speaker 6: 32:26 But I'm glad you noticed that. Um, those, that, there were women filmmakers in the top 20 and I also like, um, in choosing which curators and critics to pull, uh, made sure that there was parody, um, male and female in who we were asking for their contributions. And so maybe it's reflective of that, or maybe it's just the fact that Asian American cinema has, has, has, has been inclusive to some extent throughout these 20 years. So you brought up crazy rich Asians, which I have really mixed feelings about being on this list. Uh, I'm Asian American, my grandfather was Chinese. And when I saw the film, first of all, I do have to confess that romantic comedy is probably my least favorite kind of film of all. But the, the, I feel like it deserves to be recognized because it did so well. But on the other hand, I feel like it's a film that proves that Asian American filmmakers can assimilate perfectly into the Hollywood mainstream and make a film just like all the others.
Speaker 6: 33:27 So I have these really mixed feelings about that film being on the list. Yeah. Well, I mean, it's certainly not universally loved. Those who love it, even in an Asian man, communities like love it for reasons, not just about representation, but love it because they had a great time and partly because they love their, just like romantic comedies. So this [inaudible] I mean a lot of commentators have talked about the fact that Hollywood has not made a big budget. Romantic comedy is seemingly forever. Um, and so a film like this is also just feeding in a national desire to see this kind of like lavish romantic silliness. Um, I mean Selena slash like working out issues of, in this case of, of, of family, of language, of culture and partly of, of gender as well. I mean, I personally really liked the movie. I love romantic comedies and very different than, well, I also love Hollywood musicals.
Speaker 6: 34:21 Like think about like the MGM musical. I love MGM musicals. Yes. But this has a similar to me, a similar kind of color and pazazz and over the top. And we were also willing to suspend certain kinds of reality, um, and just kind of surrender to the color and yeah. Into the music. All right. And I guess I just didn't surrender. Yeah. That's my, that's my toughest Shara. To me that's like, you know, it's like people look at horror and go like, Oh, that, you know, scares me. It's like romantic comedies or like, Oh, that scares me.
Speaker 6: 34:53 Um, you did talk about some of the criteria that, um, I think led to some of the films that I really liked that didn't get representative or filmmakers, I guess. So, you know, there's people like Greg or Rocky that I think is great, but I guess he really doesn't focus that much on Asian Americans. But like mysterious skin is one of my favorite films of all time. I know Andy, if we had opened it up even more that what I was afraid of was that this top 20 list would be at least half of it would be films that were not about Asian Americans anymore. Um, cause then you would include like mysterious. Can I love mr Diskin like Greg Rocky is incredible. We might end up with some nice job long films on this list, right? Um, whether you love him or hate him, like people think signs and we're the sixth sense.
Speaker 6: 35:38 Yeah. I'm unbreakable are like really strong American films and, and I, I, but to me that's, that's certainly the case. And you would get films, like I mentioned, close out with a writer or songs my brothers taught me. And as to the extent that we want to celebrate these films, do we want to celebrate them at the expense of these songs that are actually about Asian Americans? And so I, so that's why I had that criteria. I also missed Karen Kusama as girl fight on there, which we played our at the first edition at San Diego Asian film festival. And I can tell you that she skipped out of her screening to come watch the Suzuki Sage on fall because she had never seen it on a big screen. And I felt that justified completely. I haven't gotten that film. Well, I mean that makes me love her even more.
Speaker 6: 36:26 Yeah. Because, and you know, that also brings up people like Destin Cretan who did short term 12 and is now going to be directing one of the Marvel films. But yeah, I feel like now we need another list, which is what you partially wanted to inspire, but of, you know, interesting Asian-American filmmakers who are succeeding not just with films that deal with Asian American themes, but are kind of, to me, those are the filmmakers that are kind of assimilating into the mainstream films in a way that I appreciate more than I think crazy rich Asians. But yeah, that may just be my particular taste. I that I, this is totally understandable and this is the flip side of this that we also decided to bracket out or films that were about Asian Americans but not directed by Asian Americans because a lot of people were saying, where's hair all on Kumar on this list are the ones like where's the big sick [inaudible] and these like foams I love.
Speaker 6: 37:17 But again, w w w there was a danger of this, is this what we want it to this to turn into? Um, and so we decided, you know, not, not this time, maybe for another list and another 10 years, maybe you'll have a different perspective on what you want to put in there. And so having done this list this year, the Asian film festival did include kind of a retrospective of some of these titles. And how was that, how was it kind of introducing this or were you introducing these films to a generation that hadn't seen them or to people who were glad to see them again? How had they planned out? Oh, absolutely. Like if I often use our interns as barometers, our interns aren't our undergrads mostly. And not only have they not seen these films, they had never even heard of them. And, and for us it's like, well that's, that says something like there's a, there's a new generation of, if there are interns at our festival, it is, it means that they have some interest in Asian American media already and maybe some exposure to it, but these aren't, this isn't immediate.
Speaker 6: 38:20 They've been exposed to a rather, they're very familiar with online, like what's on YouTube or what's on television, what's on Netflix. Um, and so the idea of film history is a little bit foreign to them. And so if the answer before, if they haven't heard these films, we should get them out there and make them of accessible. Um, and then certainly like a lot of our audiences, as our audience always tell us they are just way too many movies that are festival every year. They can't see everything. And there's tons of stuff that, um, they never had a chance to see. And so being able to bring it out as also a second chance to have for a film that still years later, there's no other way to watch them. Oh, and I know, I mean I'm not a top 20 lists I've done, I noticed that some were films that we had played recently for other retrospectives we've done or that they're just so new that we play them in the last five years. So we've focused on the ones that haven't played that much before. So some of them were playing during the festival. Um, especially if saving face, we have a 35 millimeter print and let's, let's do it. Um, but there's some thumbs that really, like we wanted to tie to certain communities, to campuses, to libraries and just make them free students into library goers. Um, and so, so yeah, in the lead up to our festival, we've been playing these all around the County. So now that you have the festival has
Speaker 3: 39:37 20 years behind them and you have almost 10 years behind you as the artistic director, what are you looking forward to in the future?
Speaker 6: 39:46 Um, well, I, I'm looking forward to continuing to do projects like our opening night film. Um, we, we are producing our own film. I mean, I'm not saying we should just keep producing films, but to keep finding other ways to serve our communities and to tell our stories in particular because we still believe in film even if a lot of filmmakers, and I'm moving into television and web. Um, so if, if the films aren't being made naturally, maybe we have to be involved in encouraging their, their production, whether that's funding in ourselves or creating, um, opportunities for filmmakers to meet each other, to spark other ideas so they can work together. Um, and so having the festival rethink what it can be as not purely for exhibition, that we are a hub for new ideas. Um, and I'm looking forward to how we're going to innovate in that realm. Well, I want to thank
Speaker 3: 40:39 Q for pushing the envelope and getting people out of their comfort zone. You do program some films that are very popular and crowd pleasing, but film festivals to me are a sacred place where there are some films that can only play there. I mean you can get Hollywood releases a week early and screen them at your festival, but it's these little gems that you, you seem to dig up every year that you can't find anywhere else. Like dead souls, your eight hour documentary. I mean I went for eight hours and I thought it was fascinating and this year, uh, you know, finding Afghan films was a total discovery. So I just want to thank you for pushing that envelope. Thank you. [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 41:35 that was Brian who artistic director of the San Diego Asian film festival, which is celebrating two decades of showcasing Asian and Asian American films. Thanks for listening to another episode of cinema junkie. Please subscribe to the podcast and recommend it to a friend because your recommendation is the best way to get new listeners coming up. I'll have a special Thanksgiving episode about films to be thankful for. The podcast comes out every other week, and I recommend checking out cinema junky episode one 55 in which my friend and stunt Trevor Steve leper picks his favorite car movies and discusses the best car chases ever put on film. You can find a link to the show at kpbs.org/cinema junkie. You can also hear me on Frank Woodward's latest episode of his podcast film sets. We debate what is cinema and what's the best way to watch a movie to truly enjoy a cinematic experience till our next film fixed on Betha Mondo, your residents cinema junkie.
Speaker 2: 42:59 [inaudible].
Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place