"Adrift in Sunset" – A Film About Love and Loss

"Adrift in Sunset" by Narissa Lee. Dao (Achara Kirk) with her mom, Mrs. Cruz (Tippamart Holmes). Photo by Carla Roley.
Dao is ready to go on her date, except she's supposed to be spending time with her mom, who has Alzheimer's.

UPDATE: Adrift in Sunset will be available on Comcast’s XFINITY/X1 throughout the month of April, 2018.

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“In ‘Adrift in Sunset,’ Dao is ready to go on her date. Except she’s supposed to be spending time with her mom. Her mom has Alzheimer’s. Dao decides to bring her mom along. This affects her date in unexpected ways.”

Love, family and a neighborhood are all themes in “Adrift in Sunset,” a short film about a mother and daughter by independent filmmaker Narissa Lee. Lee is known for her short comedic films, from “The Bus Pass,” a short about a fleeting, romantic moment on the bus, to the satiric “The Arrival,” about how a church is handling new LGBTQ members to their congregation. Lee’s very first film about her mother, “For My Beloved,” was made in 2004. Her short films have played at CAAMFest and other Asian American film festivals, LGBTQ film festivals, and in Europe and Asia. (“The Bus Pass” screened at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in 2011 and “The Arrival” in 2012).

Lee’s mother is from Thailand, and her father from China. Lee was born and raised in San Francisco’s Sunset district. In many ways, the location is a character in her latest film, which she hopes to complete in the coming months. The Sunset district is “a place with a lot of families, various immigrant communities, and then it’s sort of a really remote part of the city that nobody wants to go to otherwise,” Lee said half-jokingly.

While the film is fiction, Lee has first-hand experience taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s: her mother. The original idea for the film was to make another comedic film, about a girl having a crush and what ensues as she also takes care of her mother. But over time, Lee said realized she wanted it to be more serious, as a way to remember a loved one. “This piece is fiction, but it’s also based on some very personal emotional experiences.”

Several scenes take place at a local tapioca shop, which Lee frequented as a teenager with her mother and grandmother. The film is mostly shot in the Sunset neighborhood, where Lee still resides, and is bilingual Thai and English. The main actors who play the mother and daughter, Achara Kirk and Tippamart Holmes, are both first generation Thai American. The short film is executive produced by Kar Yin Tham, CAAM’s former Director of Education & New Initiatives.

As to what kinds of films Lee hopes to make, it’s bringing a perspective outside of the mainstream, yet with a broad appeal. “The stories [I tell] are not as common partly because people who make content, or who are really popular or mainstream, have a different perspective. I think I come from a different place than what’s normally seen on the big screen.”

Lee is currently raising money to complete the film. Check out “Adrift in Sunset”‘s IndieGoGo here.

—Momo Chang

Filmmaker Narissa Lee. Photo by Kar Yin Tham.
Filmmaker Narissa Lee. Photo by Kar Yin Tham.

Main image: “Adrift in Sunset” by Narissa Lee. Dao (played by Achara Kirk) with her mom, Mrs. Cruz (Tippamart Holmes). Photo by Carla Roley.