One of the treats of going to film festivals occurs in the form of delayed gratification. I am referring to when a festival film gets wider distribution. It gives me a sense of having inside knowledge. This has occurred frequently as of late.
2006 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) was a cornucopia of pre-release films. The Special Jury Award went to Colma The Musical. I wanted to see that film because it was filmed near where I lived but the showings were sold out. Colma has a limited release (SF & NYC) this summer. It's in its third week at Embarcadero Cinema. I caught it a couple weekends ago and have to agree that it was deserving of an award. I recognized many of the filming locations (one shot was about 4 blocks my place). Beyond that, the tunes were catchy and the story was interesting enough. I won't go into too much detail because you can read the SF Chronicle's review. I largely agree with the review although I thought there was unrequited love between Rodel & Billy. I also thought that by making Rodel's character mean-spirited at times, it added some depth to his character. Allegedly, the creators of Colma are working on its sequel - Serramonte The Musical.
Colma The Musical 2006 SFIAAFF synopsis
Colma The Musicall - Official Website
Also from the 2006 SFIAAFF was Eve & the Fire Horse. It just opened on Friday, July 6. The Chronicle review panned it but I found the film quite endearing. Being half-Japanese, I found the scenes where Vivian Wu's character speak Chinese and her daughters respond in English to be dead on and insightful. It was a little touch that captures how I still communicate with my mother to this day. I haven't seen the film in 16 months but I recall laughing out loud. The film took place in the 70's which is time when I would have been Eve's age (9 years old). The fact that it is a period piece is not mentioned in the review but again the director/writer (Julia Kwan) got the details just right. Frequently, a film doesn't stand up to a second viewing so the criticisms may be valid but my initial response to the film was that it the film was wonderful.
Other films from the 2006 SFIAAFF that were later distributed were Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (pronounced ka-ka-zhi-lee), Journey From The Fall, and The Slanted Screen. For my money, the best film of the 2006 SFIAAFF was Linda, Linda, Linda, a Japanese comedy about four schoolgirls that form a rock band to enter their school's talent contest. In addition to the regular teenage angst, they must deal with the lead singer who is a Korean exchange student that barely speaks Japanese & can't carry a tune. By the way, the movie title is based on a song by the Blue Hearts, an 1980's punk rock group out of Japan.
From the 2007 SF IndieFest, Ten Canoes is being distributed. The film is an aboriginal tale within an aboriginal tale set in the time before time, in the Australian outback. It had its moments but I wasn't greatly impressed by the film.
2 days ago