Festival Stars, Where Are They Now? (Part III)

Highlights and updates from last year's hot docs! Read it here...

wings-of-defeat-1.jpgStill from Risa Morimoto’s doc Wings of Defeat, which garnered last year’s Special Jury Award.

By Geraldine Ah-Sue

Yes indeed! There was a major buzz going around the air as 2008 SFIAAFF movie-goers cheered in excitement over the amazing films that were presented in last year’s program. With a selection of over 120 films to choose from, the gamut between film-lovers and film-novices all crowded theaters to meet with some major filmmakers, watch a series of bold new cinema, and fondly reminisce on some beloved past cinematic treasures. But even still, after almost a year has passed the 2008 SFIAAFF, the buzz continues. Here, CAAM gives you a run-down of some of the current happenings of your favorite 2008 SFIAAFF films, where they’ve been, and where they’re headed…


Anthony Gilmore’s haunting documentary, Behind Forgotten Eyes, left its audiences with plenty to think about at last year’s festival. Since its presentation at SFIAAFF in 2008, the stories heard in Behind Forgotten Eyes continue to be told through its wide circulation at several human rights festivals around the world. Aside from the festival crowds, Behind Forgotten Eyes has also been screened on the History Channel Asia in places like Thailand and Malaysia, and is currently on sale on DVD via the film’s Web site but also keep a look out for it to be released through Netflix and Blockbuster in the near future…

SFIAAFF was proud to be the site for Christine Choy’s Long Story Short World Premier last year, and the journey hasn’t stopped yet… Since its kick-off in San Francisco, Long Story Short has made it to a gamut of film festivals, including the Asian American International Film Festival in New York, the Asian Pacific American Film Festival in Washington, the Austin Asian American Film Festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival, as well as the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it picked up both an Audience Award and a Jury’s Honorable Mention for Best Documentary! Way to go! Choy was still in the frenzy at the beginning of November, getting ready to travel to Chicago, New York, and Toronto for additional screenings, so I think we can excitedly expect that this isn’t the last we’ve heard from this fascinating doc!

Since Risa Morimoto’s Wings of Defeat screened last year at the 2008 SFIAAFF – and took home the Special Jury Award – a LOT has happened! San Francisco was just one of a whirlwind of cities Wings of Defeat traveled to, stopping by in places like Tel Aviv, Singapore, Korea, Hawaii, not to mention all over the U.S., including New York where it won the Audience Award at the NY Asian American International Film Festival. Having made its mark on the big screen, Wings of Defeat has also been working the small screen – not only was it broadcast in Europe on ARTE this past summer, but it’s also slotted to broadcast in the U.S. on PBS Independent Lens in May 2009. Be sure to keep your eye out for that! But in the meantime, fans can pick up a copy of Wings of Defeat through the film’s Web site … just the ticket for a great holiday gift! (just saying.) As for Morimoto’s upcoming projects, she’ll soon be jet-setting to Japan to do some research on her newest project – a narrative feature on artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Sounds exciting!

It’s no surprise that writer/director Elaine Mae Woo has been super busy since her documentary Anna May Wong: Frosted Yellow Willows made a stop at last year’s SFIAAFF. Frosted Yellow Willows has visited a wide array of audiences, having made rounds on the east coast at New York University in New York and Wellesley College in Massachusetts, as well as overseas to London, England, where it screened a whopping three times (!), including at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Even more, Frosted Yellow Willows made its television debut on Turner Classic Movies this past June, serving as the opening and closing film of Turner Classic Movie’s special on “Asian Images in Film.” Currently, Woo is at work on a number of different projects, one of which is a documentary short that follows up on Frosted Yellow Willows by continuing the important work of documenting and archiving the life and legend of Anna May Wong. It’s clear that Woo feels strongly about the telling of Anna May Wong’s life story and accomplishments, and when asked about how her passion for Wong got started, Woo answered that the more she got to know about Wong, the more she realized that “the rest of the world should know that there are homegrown Chinese women who had their acts together!” Well-said! A limited DVD release of Anna May Wong: Frosted Yellow Willows is upcoming, so keep a look out!