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San Diego Asian Film Festival Innovates With VOD, Twitch, Drive-In

Speaker 1: 00:00 The San Diego Asian film festival had to cancel its spring showcase this year because of COVID. But tomorrow it kicks off its annual fall festival with a mix of online and outdoor events, KPBS arts reporter, Beth Huck, Amando previews the festival with its artistic director. Brian who Brian, you had to cancel the spring showcase because of the COVID pandemic. Now you are putting on your main Asian film festival event for the fall. What are some of the challenges you've been facing with this? Speaker 2: 00:34 If the challenges actually have haven't been related to technology, which is what I particularly thought it might be. It's actually, I feel like a overload of an entire seasons worth of events over the summer that have now been postponed into the fall. And I think people now from their homes have access to way too many virtual events. Maybe not wait to me. I mean, it choice is good, but for us, obviously it's harder to distinguish ourselves. So that's what we ended up. That was the challenge. How are we going to put together a programming slate? That's going to be different than the rest and hopefully be exciting and uplifting and exactly what people need right now. Speaker 1: 01:14 Well, it's impressive that you're opening film 76 days feels incredibly recent because it actually deals with the pandemic. Speaker 2: 01:24 It's a miracle that this movie exists. So the film is 76 days takes place completely in hospitals, in the blue hon during the 76 days in which the city was shut down. And I think that, I mean, in the United States, we get a certain perspective of what was happening in China, right? We, we hear certain things from leaders in governments about the evils of, of China, but even from, um, the mainstream, I mean, even from, um, press like we often hear just in terms of policy and numbers and statistics, we don't get to see like what's actually happening in these hospitals and the interaction between doctors, nurses, and patients and how these healthcare providers are really making this up as they go along and their solutions are incredibly powerful and show the persistence of the human spirit and the drive towards healing. And I feel like it's the kind of movie we read right now to recalibrate our relationships with a global pandemic so that we can want to help each other. And I feel like it's in that spirit that we want it to begin our festival this year. Speaker 1: 02:34 One of the films that I think is outstanding in terms of both creating a portrait and also exploring that Asian American experience or the Asian experience in America is be water, which is about Bruce Lee. And instead of it being just a portrait of this amazing actor and stuntman, we get a real sense of what it must have been like to be Asian in America, the time that he was trying to. Speaker 2: 03:00 Yeah. I mean, it's surprisingly this bio pic of Bruce Lee, right? That you haven't asked her an idea of what that might be. I mean, there's no shortage of authorized or unauthorized movies about Bruce Lee, right? Speaker 1: 03:14 Huh. Speaker 2: 03:15 Right into the camera lens right here. And tell us your name. My last name is Lee. Bruce Lee. You realize where you're watching this, not that this is more than that. This is about the 1960s and seventies in the United States for an Asian person who's lives in Seattle and who comes to Hollywood and sort of communities that he builds within his, amongst other Asian Americans, but also amongst other people of color. And they're composed studios that they, they sort of center around. Um, I love hearing that Bruce Lee had a Japanese American girlfriend in the 1960s in Seattle. You'd never think about the fact that he was just this ordinary guy who was trying to find love and that he did. So through it from a, with a Japanese person no less, right? Like you think about Bruce Lee's films as being Chinese, I can nationalist for the Chinese, but that part of his background is thinking cross ethnically about our collective hardships. And with that kind of ethos, we appreciate his, his later films. Speaker 1: 04:16 And one of the fun things about the actual screening of this documentary, this film, and another one called get the hell out, are going to be outdoors. Speaker 2: 04:26 Yeah. We really wanted to do something in person. And, but of course, to do so in a way that was safe and that doesn't promote, you know, a frivolous culture of not taking a pandemic seriously, but the driving has become the new way that people watch films as in groups. And we, so we just created our own drive in, um, we really wanted it on convoy. Um, this is an area with a lot of Asian businesses that people go to when they're looking for, for food, for shopping, for groceries. And so Zion market has graciously provided for us that our parking lot, their giant parking lot. And so we got an AB team to put together the screen, the projection. And what better way of, of honoring Bruce Lee actually, and kind of older traditions of going to the movies then to do it as a drive in screening. Speaker 1: 05:20 All right. I'm looking forward to that. And how is the festival going to play out for the audience in the sense of do the films drop at specific times? Are they available over the entire course of the festival? How can people actually enjoy the films? Speaker 2: 05:34 That's a great question because every festival is doing this a little bit differently this year. And in fact, we, as a team had a lot of questions about what would be the best way to present our films. And we actually uphold our members. Would they rather have set screening times where everyone has to show up, say like 7:00 PM on Tuesday night, we're going to watch a movie together and have a Q and a together, or should we give audiences the flexibility, right? We're to have it's festival for an entire nine days. And you choose when you want to watch which films. And for the most part, every film in our festival is going to be available for all nine days. But we realized that we lose that feeling of simultaneity that is so intrinsic to the festival experience. And so like so valued. So we are still doing some live Q and a sessions. Speaker 1: 06:19 And tell us about your closing night film Speaker 2: 06:21 Excited about this film. It's called mogul Mowgli, uh, started by Pacem Tariq and, uh, really excitingly for us. It stars Riz, Ahmed, who many people know, uh, from his Emmy winning performance in the night of, and in this film, he plays a rapper [inaudible] and it turns out resign is actually a incredible rapper. And, uh, so part of the joy is watching him perform, but then it's also just this tour de force performance about a man who goes home and starts to find that his body is falling apart mysteriously. And part of the film is watching him adjust to this new reality, but also him trying to get a spiritual and family and romantic life together and professional life together. And so maybe what's happening to his body as a reflection of all of the sort of unsolved conflicts that he's currently feeling. And, and, and really like this is a showcase for a director who is in full command of the medium, through editing through sound in particular. And then through this, this actor who gives us such this incredible, um, embodied performance, Speaker 1: 07:45 Well, there are a lot more films in the festival than we will have time to talk about, but I want to thank you very much for previewing this year. San Diego, Asian film festival. Thank you. Speaker 2: 07:55 You as always, Speaker 1: 07:58 That was Beth Armando speaking with artistic director, Brian who the San Diego Asian film festival kicks off tomorrow and runs through October 31st.

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The San Diego Asian Film Festival is going virtual this year.
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