August is an exciting month for Asian American filmmaking; alongside a focus on Japanese American cinema, we also present the feature debuts of several talented new voices who are reshaping the American independent film landscape.
Three new, highly anticipated independent feature films that have wowed audiences on the film festival circuit over the past year make their premieres with XFINITY On Demand®. A hit from the Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals is New York-based filmmaker Prashant Bhargava’s “Patang”. A drama set in the Indian city of Ahmedabad during the largest kite festival in the world, it matches a kinetic energy and style to a moving family drama that the late Roger Ebert called “masterful”. From the SXSW Film Festival come two comedies that also dig deep: Ernesto Foronda and Silas Howard‘s Los Angeles-set romance “Sunset Stories” starring Sung Kang (“Fast & Furious”) and Monique Gabriela Curnen (“CSI,” “The Mentalist“) and Junya Sakino’s foul-mouth identity road trip, “Sake Bomb”. Jon Chu’s (“Step Up 2″) “GI Joe: Retalliation” brings us up to date with his latest effort that won warm box office praise and also reprises Korean actor Byung-hun Lee’s role as Storm Shadow. Also, be sure not to miss the Bollywood classic “Om Shanti Om” now available this month, starring mega-star Shah Rukh Khan alongside Deepika Padukone.
Cinema Asian America’s focus on Japanese American filmmaking highlights the stories and storytelling that have shaped this community. With a history of media making that traces from the silent era (with matinee idol Sessue Hayakawa) to covert home movies made inside of the Japanese American internment camps during WWII, to broad comedies such as Junya Sakino’s 2013 film “Sake Bomb,” these films and makers have been central to defining and redefining Asian American cinema.
A series of documentaries this month offer profiles of individuals who have been major cultural influencers in a range of fields, from film to dance to sports. These include portraits of: actor Jack Soo (“Barney Miller”, “Flower Drum Song”) in “You Don’t Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story;” judo master Keiko Fukuda (the highest ranking female judo practitioner in the world) in “Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful;” painter Jimmy Mirikitani who lived through both the bombing of Hiroshima and 9/11 in “The Cats of Mirikitani” and photographer Toyo Miyatake, whose photographs of the internment camps opened up the nation to a history that had been concealed.
Also featured is Desmond Nakano’s dramatic narrative, “American Pastime” which uses a tales of baseball and friendship to explore the history of the Japanese American internment, and Richard Rutkowski’s documentary, “The Space In Back Of You”, which examines the history and legacy of Japanese dancer and choreographer Suzushi Hanayagi, and her long-time mentorship of renown theatre director Robert Wilson.
• “GI Joe: Retalliation,” Jon Chu, USA
• “Ip Man: Final Fight”, Herman Yau, Hong Kong
• “Om Shanti Om,” Farah Khan, India
• “Patang,” Prashant Bhargava, USA
• “Sake Bomb,” Junya Sakino, USA/Japan
• “Sunset Stories,” Ernesto Foronda and Silas Howard, USA
Japanese American Films
• “American Pastime, ”Desmond Nakano
• “A Song for Ourselves,” Tadashi Nakamura
• “The Cats of Mirikitani,” Linda Hattendorf
• “Children of the Camps,” Satsuki Ina
• “Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful,” Yuriko Gamo Romer
• “The Space in Back of You,” Richard Rutkowski
• “Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray,” Robert Nakamura
• “You Don’t Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story, “ Jeff Adachi