There is a certain nostalgia that festivalgoers and festival people in general get when thinking of SFIAAFF’s of years past. This last festival is a prime example: Asians, Asian-Americans, Americans, and every combination in between, filtered into theatre seats to see familiar and eye-opening performances on the big screen; veteran and newbie filmmakers answered audience questions with nervous jokes and age-old maxims; and many average Joes and Joannes had the chance to brush elbows with dashing movie stars. And let’s not forget the dozens of wide-eyed volunteers greeting you at the door in synchronized packs, pencils and surveys in hand, like they’d stepped straight out of Children of the Festival.
But I’m sure everyone – filmmakers, actors and audience members – alike will agree that the real stars of last year’s festival were the films themselves. Indeed, those films are still demanding attention far and wide, and in true CAAM fashion we’re keeping up with them every step of the way. Whether you’ve seen one, two, or 20 of these works, it’s worth your while to know what’s going on with them now and what their auteurs are up to next.
Don’t blink – Yes, it’s real-life hula men
Winner of SFIAAFF’s Audience Award, NA KAMALEI: THE MEN OF HULA, has gone on to become the object of many a film festival award. The film now has a broadcast slot on the Independent Lens series on PBS (watch it May 6, 2008), and Director Lisette Marie Flanary is currently getting ready to make the DVD ready for distribution. “I’ve been really pleased and blown away by the reaction of the film,” said Flanary. “Lots of sold out audiences which is always great. And whether or not people are from Hawaii, they get it, which was my goal.” Flanary has since been hired to direct another doc about Hawaiian culture, and is still developing ideas for her final hula trilogy about hula in Japan.
Closer to home
Also a winner at SFIAAFF for Best Documentary Feature, Socheata Poeuv’s earnest documentary, NEW YEAR BABY, captured the hearts, and attention, of many. “From Tel Aviv to San Francisco,” Director Poeuv says she is thrilled with audience reception and that people are “consistently moved and inspired by the film.” The film has racked up several awards, and Poeuv is now in the midst of creating a Cambodian language version of the film to be used as an educational tool throughout Cambodia. Poeuv is also busy laying the groundwork for her new organization, Khmer Legacies, whose mission is to create a video history archive about the Cambodian genocide. The format will have children interview their own parents about stories of survival.
C-Diddy, Great Happiness, and my personal fave
Some other docs festivalgoers may have seen and l-o-v-e-d, like AIR GUITAR NATION and THE GREAT HAPPINESS SPACE: TALE OF AN OSAKA LOVE THIEF are now viewable on DVD or television. AIR GUITAR NATION, the cult classic with a lot of crazy bare-chested dudes jamming on invisible guitars, has played in close to 100 cities and has been available on DVD through New Video/Docurama since July.
THE GREAT HAPPINESS SPACE, tale of a “Neverland” subculture, (also featuring a lot of crazy, but less-bare-chested, individuals) has been sold to the Sundance Channel in the US and should be available for rental on Netflix. Director Jake Clennell, who brought us into this complex and captivating world in the first place, is at it again with a documentary about sumo wrestlers in the works.
A personal favorite, AND THEREAFTER II, the second installment of Director Hosup Lee’s trilogy on Korean women, has since played in a handful of festivals throughout North America, Hawaii and Europe. I don’t know when the third installment is coming out, but I will definitely be watching for it.
These are just some of the updates on a number of great films featured at our last SFIAAFF. More to come in Part 2, the Narratives…