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The Lost Arcade: a documentary about New York City’s arcade culture

Written and produced by Irene Chin and directed by Kurt Vincent, THE LOST ARCADE, is an intimate story of a once-ubiquitous cultural phenomenon on the edge of extinction, especially in New York City, which once had video arcades by the dozen. These arcades were as much social hubs to meet up and hang out as they were public arenas for gamers to demonstrate their skills. But by 2011, only a handful remained, most of them corporate affairs, leaving the legendary Chinatown Fair on Mott Street as the last hold-out of old-school arcade culture.

Opened in the early 1940’s, Chinatown Fair, famous for its dancing and tic tac toe playing chickens, survived turf wars between rival gangs, increases in rent, and the rise of the home gaming system to become an institution and haven for kids from all five boroughs. A documentary portrait of the Chinatown Fair and its denizens, THE LOST ARCADE is a eulogy for and a celebration of the arcade gaming community, tenacity, and Dance Dance Revolutionary spirit.

THE LOST ARCADE had its world premiere at the 2015 DOC NYC while going on to play numerous prestigious film festivals around the world, such as the 2016 International Film Festival Rotterdam, Melbourne International Film Festival, Independent Film Festival Boston, Santa Cruz Film Festival, Open City Documentary Festival in London and the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

The Lost Arcade: a documentary about New York City's arcade culture

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K-Town Cowboys: Because You Make Your Own Gigs Asian American Actors!

K-Town Cowboys, KTown Cowboys, KTown movieDoes anyone remember that movie Diner with Kevin Bacon? I’d pitch this as a K-Town web series version of Diner. I found it trolling through YouTube searching for K-Town episode 3 and thought this was a reality show. It’s actually much better than a reality show. Written by talented stand up comedian Danny Cho, directed by Daniel “DPD” Park, and bringing together their posse of Korean American acting types, it’s a glimpse into the modern dating world of K-Town through the eyes of LA newbie John Kim, cast perfectly and played by Lanny Joon.

If you are hooked on K-Town, the reality show, this web series has similar themes like booking, Pok Tan Ju, and the multiple rounds of drinking known as il-cha, ee-cha, sam-cha, and sa-cha. Watch with caution. Very addicting. Make sure you have a free 90 minutes to view it all!

The Show

Ktown Cowboys came about in May 2009. Daniel “DPD” Park and Danny Cho were sitting and having a beer. They were reminiscing about their fun times in Koreatown (“Ktown”) Los Angeles when they were younger. Although both DPD and Danny had zero experience in making a movie, they set out to write a script about their glory days in Ktown. The idea was simple. Give the most realistic portrayal of Ktown ever done.

Once the writing process began, DPD and Danny quickly realized that instead of trying to go the traditional route (movie, theater distribution, etc.), they wanted as many people as possible to see their project. Hence, they decided to write a webisode series. By the end of October 2009, the writing for the webisode series was complete. However, writing the script was one thing but to actually go into production was another ordeal that DPD and Danny did not have any experience in. Fortunately, the Korean liquor company, Hite/Jinro agreed to give then $5000 to start production. With the money from Hite and one small fundraiser, DPD and Danny assembled the cast and crew and set off to finish Ktown Cowboys, which will eventually be re-cut into a feature length movie format.

Ktown Cowboys is a story about John Kim (Lanny Joon), a young Korean American from Richmond, Virginia, finds himself transplanted to Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Having been recently dumped by his girlfriend and with no immediate job prospects, Johnny is taken under the wing of his cousin Jason (Shane Yoon) and a motley crew of partyhoppers who are dedicated to having a good time. The cast includes Bobby Lee (MADtv), Justin Chon (Twilight), Danny Cho, Bobby Choy, Lanny Joon, Peter Jae, Sunn Wee and many more Asian Americans in the entertainment industry.

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Reviews & Buzz:
– Koream feature
– Rice Bomb
– Groove/Asia
– omgkpop.com
– examiner.com
– Angry Asian Man
– ‘Ktown Cowboys’ Episode 1 Hits the Web After a Sold-out World Premiere at LAAPFF
– Channel APA
– Angry Asian Man
– LAAPFF
– Peachies

When John Kim (Lanny Joon) relocates from the comforts of his picket-fence, WASP neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia to the alluring city of Ktown Los Angeles, the land of sultry women, Booking Clubs, and late night taco trucks, his arrival immediately sparks the most epic night of his life. His cousin, Jason (Shane Yoon) introduces John to his audacious crew (Peter Jae, Danny Cho, Sunn Wee, and Bobby Big Phony Choy) who teach John the basic yet inventive ways on how to survive the perfect Friday night in Ktown. Special appearances by Justin Chon (Twilight) and Bobby Lee (Mad TV).

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You Help Tell This Asian American Love Story!

Away We Happened

Wong Fu Productions and AT&T present
“Away We Happened,” an original web series that involves YOU the viewer
helping to decide how and where the story goes.
Watch, submit your ideas, vote for your favorites
and find out what happens!!

Here’s how.

Go here.

Ok, the trailer and the first episode have me hooked. Those two actors are adorable. I KNOW this is a commercial for AT&T’s new iPhone knockoff, but I don’t care. I want to know if he really got the assignment or just made it up. I think he made it up. She IS cute. Men do that. Cute!

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Help Make The Real Mikado (A Feature Film) Real

Joyce Wu, The Real Mikado, Asian American ActressMy name is Joyce Wu and I’m an Asian American writer, actress and filmmaker.  I’m currently an MFA candidate in film production at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and I’ve directed several short films that have won awards and screened at festivals around the world.

I’m getting in touch with you today to tell you about my newest feature film. It’s called The Real Mikado and you can check out the campaign here.

The film is about an out of work Asian American actress in New York who runs out of money and moves back in with her parents in the suburbs of Detroit.  The town is facing a budget crisis and wants to shut down the community theater.  She agrees to direct a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera The Mikado to try and save it. It’s a fun but poignant coming-of-age comedy. Right now, I’m working on securing funding via the IndieGoGo platform. I think we can all agree it’s about time for a film featuring an Asian American character who isn’t just an ethnic side kick or massage parlor worker.  The prospects in Hollywood for a film with a female protagonist (much less an Asian American one) are grim and this movie needs the support of the community so it can be produced independently. Any help you can give to this film would be greatly appreciated.  I know how busy you must be, so thank you for taking the time to read this and for checking out the project.

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Jessica Yu (Not Jessica Wu!): Academy Award Winning Filmmaker: Produces the Next Scream?

Jessica Yu Jade Luck Club JadeLuckClub Jessica Wu film director academy award winner documentary

You know you’ve entered new territory when your outfit cost more than your film.

Jessica Yu at 69th Annual Academy Awards

Thank goodness that Jessica Yu is featured in Asiance Magazine because I searched and searched for her online and almost nothing came up. Then I figured out why. There is a dermatologist to the stars named Jessica Wu and somehow Jessica Yu’s name keeps being misspelled and then mixed up with the derm! It seems to happen over and over again because “Wu” is just a more common last name than “Yu.”

I was curious to see what she was up to …

“Directed by the previously little-known horror director Adam Wingard from a screenplay by Simon Barrett, “Next” tells the story of a young man (A.J. Bowen) and his girlfriend (Sharni Vinson) who head to a vacation house for a family reunion only to find violent dangers lurking. Unlike a traditional horror film, where passive victims are picked off one by one, however, this one sees the victims fight back in ways that, according to several Web reviews, are both brutal and funny.

Respected fan site Hitfix even compares the movie to “Scream” because of the way it can play to hard-core horror fans as well as a mainstream audience. “The film is fiendishly clever in the way it springs its various surprises, and the cast manages to make this feel legitimately life-and-death, but also keeps it light and funny.”

The Hitfix reviewer also said (before any negotiations came to light) that he’s expecting a bit of a breakout. ” I’d put a little money down on the notion that you’ll get to see this one sooner rather than later, and in a real theater.  A little bit of post-production sweetening to smooth off some of the rough technical edges could help,” he writes. “and this could be a lovely small-scale sensation.'” from The LA Times Blog

” Snoot Entertainment’s Keith Calder and Jessica Wu produced the project with Simon Barrett and Kim Sherman. The film reunites the principal cast from Wingard and Barrett’s shocking serial-killer thriller A Horrible Way To Die, which screened at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.” from Internet Movie Database.  OOPS, they misspelled her name here! See what I mean?!

Jessica Yu Filmmaker JadeLuckClub

And here is another project of hers …

Jessica Wu Yu mix up JadeLuckClub filmmaker oscar winner Jade Luck Club

Protagonist Review from TV Guide

Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Jessica Wu (Misspelled Again!!)  originally planned on making a documentary about the classical tragedian Euripides. What she wound up with is an audacious and remarkably assured documentary that weaves together four seemingly unrelated portraits of four contemporary men whose very different lives follow the course of Euripidean drama.

Wu’s subjects couldn’t be any more different. Mark Pierpont is a former evangelical preacher who knew fairly early on that he was gay. Growing up in a devout Christian family in Wildwood, NJ, he feared the perdition the Church guaranteed homosexuals, and convinced himself that he’d been cured through prayer. After attending a missionary training school instead of college, Pierpont began spreading the Gospel around the world; he also began leafleting Seattle-area gay bars with the woman who would soon become his wife, promising the Sodomites within that they, too, could overcome their homosexuality through force of will and God’s love. Mexican-American Joe Loya had a happy childhood until the death of his mother from cancer when Joe was 9, after which his grieving alcoholic father began mercilessly abusing him. Helpless in the face of his father’s violence and unable to protect his younger brother from beatings that amounted to torture, Loya found another way of proving his strength as a man: He embarked on a career of petty crime and bank robberies that would eventually land in him a California prison. It wasn’t the money Loya was after. He knew even while it was happening that the real rush came from his victims’ fear and degradation.

As a kid, Mark Salzman (a particularly engaging storyteller who also happens to be Wu’s husband) was a slight, insecure, self-described human punching bag for school bullies, but when he first saw the TV show Kung Fu, Salzman knew he’d found his role model: Kwai Chang, played by David Carradine, a highly trained martial artist of quiet strength, courage and wisdom who reluctantly used his deadly fists to serve his high ideals. Determined to become as much like his new hero as possible, Salzman began taking Chinese boxing lessons from a local instructor, a full-blown sociopath who seemed to delight in violence, humiliation and cruelty, and who drove his students to perverse lengths to prove their commitment. Hans-Joachim Klein is perhaps the most well-known of Wu’s raconteurs. The son of a German-Jewish mother who committed suicide in the Ravensbrueck concentration camp and a German police officer who considered Adolph Hitler to have been a “good man,” Klein grew up respecting the police and fearing his father. After witnessing the brutal treatment meted out upon the student and worker demonstrators during the tumult of 1968, however, Klein underwent a political awakening and threw himself into radical left-wing politics. By 1972, he was deeply involved with the RAF and members of the Baader-Meinhof gang; in 1975, he joined notorious Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal in an ill-fated attempt to storm the OPEC headquarters in Vienna and take the oil ministers hostage. Three people were shot to death, and even though Klein was hailed as a hero by his colleagues, he, like the three other subjects of this remarkable film, had reached a turning point.

Wu imposes a structure on the diverse stories by organizing them into chapters whose headings are drawn from elements germane to classical drama: “Character,” “Provocation,” “Opportunity,” “Certainty,” “Threshold,” “Doubt,” “Reversal,” etc. As in her acclaimed 2004 documentary IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL, which told the strange, lonely story of outsider artist Henry Darger, Wu makes ingenious use of animation to reveal deeper meanings. Utilizing the ingenious puppetry of Janie Geiser to enacting episodes from Euripides plays (the original ancient Greek text is read in voice over by Marina Sirtis and Chris Diamantopolous) and well as dramatizations of her subjects’ life stories, Wu is able to demonstrate both the timelessness and the universality of stories which, on the surface, sound extreme and unique. All, however, are searching for transcendence, and an escape from the shame, pain and rage of their lives through extreme experience. And each will find their own way back to themselves after reaching the inevitable crisis and catharsis in ways that are surprising and deeply affecting.  —Ken Fox

What do you think of Jessica Yu? Does anyone have a photo of her Academy Award dress? It was gorgeous…

p.s. I liked her husband’s books too! He’s also an interesting guy. The first book, Iron and Silk, is about martial arts (yes, he’s a martial arts guy). The Soloist reflects his classical cellist background. And you can see him in Yu’s film, The Protagonist.

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Indie Documentary Film Short: I Met a Man From Burma

I Met A Man from Burma Documentary Film JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club http://JadeLuckClub.com Celebrating Asian American Creativity Diversity Tiger Mom Amy Chua Asian American Culture Pride

I Met a Man from Burma is a documentary film short produced and directed by Tara Browne. It will premiere in Vancouver in late June 2011 (date TBA) as part of the Vancity Theatre’s Reel Causes documentary showcase.

A 22-minute long documentary short, I Met a Man from Burma, is an interwoven tapestry of frank interviews with Lo Bo in Toronto, coupled with live footage and vivid imagery from today’s Burma. Captured by Canadian photojournalist Brennan O’Connor, the images speak to the devastation of culture, the loss of innocence, and the vitality of a nation.

Ler Wah Lo Bo was a teacher and revolutionary fighter for the Karen National Union’s [KNU) Karen National Liberation Army [KNLA]—representing the largest ethnic minority in Burma and seeking autonomy from the oppressive military regime. After 16 years of service, Lo Bo left the KNU and helped to set up refugee camps and NGO mapping and monitoring systems for land mines.

In 2002, Lo Bo settled in Toronto, Canada—leaving his wife and three children behind. Over the years, he has applied for his permanent residence but has been denied; the Canadian government has deemed his involvement with the KNU and KNLA as unlawful. Without papers he cannot travel or sponsor his family. In November 2007, Leh Wah’s wife (who had relocated with her children to North Carolina) was killed in a car accident; Ler Wah was unable to attend the funeral and has not seen his family since 2001.

Now 53, Lo Bo is an advocate for Burma. In Toronto, he works as a phone interpreter for Karen people across North America, and helps newly-arrived Karen refugees. He is a reputed musician within his community and is focused on educating the Burmese youth along the Thai-Burma border. His goal: to visit his children, to see his homeland, to bring peace to his country, and to build schools for his people.

Diversity Face Films was founded in 2010 by Tara Brownea working actor, and director and producer. Trained in theatre and inspired by the free form of indie films, she hopes to bring an eclectic vibrancy to the big screen.

p.s. I have a post on Burma on my other blog, PragmaticMom Teach Me Tuesday: Burma.

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The House of Suh: An Award Winning Movie of the True Story of an Asian American Dream Gone Terribly Awry…

House of Suh JadeLuckClubThe House of Suh: A Good Son is Committed for Life


Yoon Myung and Tai Sook Suh immigrated to America for a better life for their children, Andrew and Catherine. But their pursuit of happiness quickly became riddled with misfortune, culminating on September 25, 1993, when Andrew shot and killed his older sister’s fiancé of eight years, Robert O’Dubaine, at Catherine’s bidding.

Those closest to Andrew expressed shock and disbelief: how could a young man with a promising future allow himself to be convinced into committing murder? As the Suh’s complex history unfolds, issues of cultural assimilation, traditional values and justice are examined, raising questions of guilt, innocence and the illusive gray area in between.

Eric Hung from the 2010 San Diego Asian Film Festival says,” “The House of Suh” is by no means a one-sided film; Andrew is a complex person, and deserves to be portrayed as one.  I also do not doubt Andrew’s lawyer’s contentions that the prosecution misunderstood Andrew’s motives and that his 100-year sentence is substantially beyond the norm for this type of crime.  That said, I do wonder whether the film’s portrayal is a little too sympathetic.  One problem is that we never hear from Catherine Suh, who is portrayed as such a monster in the film.  This is unavoidable, as she did not cooperate or meet with the filmmakers.  Another problem is that Andrew, who even while admitting the heinous nature of his crime, seems to blame his actions almost exclusively on his heritage, specifically the idea of filial piety.  Is this really a convincing explanation for a murder in modern Korean or American society?”

Winner:

Best Documentary/Audience Award at the Philadelphia Asian Film Festival.

Grand Jury Prize at the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

Directed by Iris K. Shim.

Originally from Chicago, IL, Iris K. Shim graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2004 with a B.A. in Psychology. After a year long stint in Los Angeles working on several films, including a documentary directed by Academy Award winner Jessica Yu, Iris returned to Chicago to produce and direct her first documentary short, OF KIN AND KIND, which tells the story of Andrew Suh, a man who, at the age of 19, was sentenced to a 100 year prison term for the shooting death of his older sister’s fiancé at her bidding. The film screened at the 2007 DisOrient Film Festival in Eugene, OR and the 2007 Chicago Underground Film Festival. THE HOUSE OF SUH is the full-length version of Of Kin and Kind and is Iris’ debut feature documentary.

Produced by Iris K. Shim, Gerry Kim and Joseph Lee.

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