Festival Stars: Where are they now? (Part 2)

Has Jimmy (Roger Fan) reverted back to his old ways and been dumped again by his girlfriend Stephanie (Emily Liu) in THE TROUBLE WITH ROMANCE?
The Trouble With Romance

Has Jimmy (Roger Fan) reverted back to his old ways and been dumped again by his girlfriend Stephanie (Emily Liu) in THE TROUBLE WITH ROMANCE?

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.


Shanghai Kiss

Kelly Hu and Ken Leung on the Shanghai Bund in SHANGHAI KISS.

So an Owl walks into a bar…
Narrative features last year ranged from the mundane to the supernatural to the plain ole what the —-? SFIAAFF’s latest winner of Best Narrative Feature Award went to OWL AND THE SPARROW, a movie with a small protagonist and powerful storyline. While director Stephane Gauger modestly expressed his pleasure to do “such a small film in Vietnam and be able to play it this year for international festivals,” the film has played for hundreds in L.A., Rotterdam and Norway and is scheduled for a dozen more stops throughout North America. Gauger is currently working on another film, POWDER BLUE, with Timothy Bui, which they hope will premier at Sundance. He is also working on a documentary about Vietnamese classical musicians while writing his next narrative. “Busy times,” Gauger said, to put it lightly. For more on what that owl and sparrow are up to, visit the official website.

#55 on IMDB
You know it’s big-time, eye-poppin’, no-turning-back success when you’ve made it on IMDB. The crowd-pleasing romantic comedy, SHANGHAI KISS, which had its world premiere at the ’07 SFIAAFF, is a case and point, sitting pretty at #55 on the popular movie spot IMDB. The film is reportedly seeing tremendous success in its first weeks of release on DVD (Starz/Anchor Bay Releasing – 10.09.07) with international release via Arclight Films. “Lost” regular Ken Leung, who plays the awkward/hilarious/infuriating character Liam Liu in SHANGHAI KISS, was recognized by SFIAAFF’s jury for his performances in both SHANGHAI KISS and YEAR OF THE FISH (side note: YEAR OF THE FISH is looking at a limited theatrical release for next summer.) The flawless Kelly Hu also is hitting mainstream TV with a sitcom on ABC, and Hayden Panettiere, a regular on the TV series “Heroes,” is (gasp) rated #1 of all movie stars in Hollywood, week after week, according to a producer of the movie. The film also won Hayden a Best Actress award at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Shanghai director Kern Konwiser is currently working with Laurence Fishburne and Kim Basinger in a story about Duke Ellington while co-director David Ren is wrapping up a low-budget action film in L.A. Keep your eyes peeled…

I’m a Zombie but that’s OK (and other awesomely-disturbing stuff)
Mischievous filmmaker Grace Lee (of THE GRACE LEE PROJECT, 2005) is enjoying international success with the witty and hilarious mockumentary, AMERICAN ZOMBIE, featured in our last SFIAAFF. With a European Premiere in Spain and plans to screen in Hawaii, AMERICAN ZOMBIE has also clinched a distribution deal with Cinema Libre, so Grace Lee fans can soon look out for the DVD in 2008. For more about the zombies, go to the official website.

The dark thriller UNDOING, starring the soft-spoken, broad-shouldered Sung Kang, is also doing a number on Asian-American festivals, with a theatrical release slated for Dec. 5. Those who attended one of the film’s many sold-out screenings can look forward to several community and outreach events with Kang and Director Chris Chan Lee, in the next few weeks as it opens in theatres.

APA regular and Kang’s FINISHING THE GAME co-star, Roger Fan, added to his adoring fan base with an uncharacteristic lovey-dovey role in THE TROUBLE WITH ROMANCE. Director Gene Rhee enthusiastically reported that the film has signed with the same sales rep who sold MONSTER and MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. Rhee also said they’ve received offers from Genius, so those of you who can’t get enough of Fan’s goofy grin and superhero chest (and you know who you are) can expect the DVDs to hit stores soon.

…Meanwhile, urban gang drama BABY, which enjoyed its world premiere at SFIAAFF, also has plans to move forward with a limited theatrical run of the film early next year.

These are just some of the updates on a number of great films featured at our last SFIAAFF. For more films, check out Part 1, the Documentaries. More to come in Part 3, the Shorts…


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