Asian American Screen Test was a series of shorts that M and I watched early Sunday afternoon on the last day of the Wisconsin Film Fest. We had had to rush to get there on time, as we had spent the morning in Jefferson, WI, looking at houses for her and N (one of which they now own! Go them!) and only had a little bit of time to get back to Madison in the driving rain to catch the start. Fortunately, we made it (though we didn't have time for lunch and were starving).
The shorts were as follows:
Screen Test, directed by Linda (not Grace) Lee. In this short, an Asian-Canadian actress (I believe the director's sister?) talks about her experiences getting acting jobs as an asian woman in film. She describes her time in "yellow face" in stereotypical rolls such as the dragonlady, the refugee, the hysterical peasant. One of my most memorable moments was when the actress, of Korean descent, was asked if she knew Chinese during an audition. She replied that she spoke a little Korean. They then asked her if she could do Chinese anyway, at which point she said sure and faked her way through the audition by emoting the scene in ridiculous non-sense phrases of kindergarten level Korean. They loved it. She got the job.
My German Boyfriend, directed by Wayne Yung. In this slightly surreal not-a-documentary, a gay Chinese-Canadian man decided to find the perfect boyfriend in Berlin. First, we get him fantasizing about several stereotypes of German men: the punk, the poet, the businessman, etc. Then we get to see his disastrous dates with those guys who not only fall short of his expectations, but see in him only a stereotypical ideal of an Asian. When he does find love in Berlin, it is with a Kurdish immigrant. The film takes another step back and ponders the filmmaker's relationship with his "real" German boyfriend and his life in German, vs. the feelings and relationship that he developed with one of the "fake" boyfriends during the filming (the punk). The twist was kind of interesting, though I think the film would have been stronger without the extension. Still, there is one kissing scene between the filmmaker and the punk about which all I can say is: HAWT!!
Shaolin Sisters, directed by Mishann Lau. This was a fun take on the old kung-fu flicks. Two sisters find a lipstick in the laundry that they are washing and proceed to fight over it. The choreography and visuals were fun, but I don't quite see where the "queer feminist perspective" noted in the publicity write-up comes in, unless they mean queer as in "peculiar".
Trying to Keep Concentrate, directed by Ruthann Lee. Shot primarily through surveillance camera footage, a young woman interviews her father, an immigrant Korean shopkeeper in Canada about his experiences as an immigrant. I haven't much to say about it.
Muni to Marriage, directed by Stuart Gaffney. The visual is mostly the view out the subway windows as it winds its way beneath San Fransisco. Over that, the narrator recalls his trip to City Hall with his partner of 17 years to get a marriage license when Mayor Gavin Newsom began issuing them to same sex couples. He compares this to his parents' marriage, 50 years before, which became possible after California legalized interracial marriages.
Kata Practice, directed by Siu Ta. Interesting, but not 5 minutes worth. A father (who we never see above the chest) is leaving a mother (who we also never see above the chest) while their young son David angrily practices his moves next to the van his father is packing.
3 Meals, directed by Colin Goh and Yen Yen Woo. A Singaporean woman fixes dinner for the Singaporean man that her mother would like to see her with, while he babbles on cluelessly and rudely. A night or two later, she has another dinner for a western man in whom she is interested, who also behaves boorishly. Finally, she has dinner with her mother, which is about as fun for her as the fist two dinners combined. A nice character study, but not a terribly memorable film.
Fuck Off, directed by Persephone Tan. The number one reason that I should have done this two months ago. I can barely remember anything about this film. "People have a natural tendency to stare, especially if you look or act differently. Uncomfortable glances? Shaking heads? Sneers? Fuck Off is dedicated to those who canít accept the fact that not everybody is the same."
Be Very Quiet, directed by Mona Nahm. Yound boy watches as his mother is raped and killed. Years later he sees the man who did it and seeks revenge. This would have been interesting if it weren't so terribly cliched in every single moment of the film.
Chinese Beauty, directed by Debbie Lum. A strangely obsessive and shallow immigrant woman dresses up and heads out "jogging" after a Californian man named "Brad" with whom she is infatuated. Bizarre little flick.
All in all, we liked what we saw. There were some winners and some that were fairly blah. After the show got out, we headed straight to Takara on State Street to fill out ravenous stomachs. Hungry as I was and after watching various meals on screen, a big plate of udon noodles hit the spot.