Our next interview from the 2016 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) organized by Visual Communications is a fun discussion with director Lena Khan, and actors Danny Pudi, Karen David, and Jon Heder of the Grand Jury Award Winning narrative film, The Tiger Hunter. The crew talks about what it took to get the film made, what drew each of them to the story, and give their advice for up and coming actors and directors. In addition to best narrative feature, the film also took home honors for “best ensemble cast” and “best director.”
ABOUT THE FILM:
THE TIGER HUNTER is the story of Sami Malik, a young South Asian who travels to 1970s America to become an engineer in order to impress his childhood crush and live up to the legacy of his father–a legendary tiger hunter back home. When Sami’s job unexpectedly falls through and he ends up living in a tiny co-op with two oddball roommates, he must resort to constructing an elaborate charade with the misfit accomplices in hopes of convincing his sweetheart that he’s far more successful than he truly is…or perhaps ever could be.
THE TIGER HUNTER is an offbeat comedy-drama about Sami and his band of polar opposite roommates. As Sami tries to pull off the farce of a lifetime, what ensues is a series of adventures involving outlandish schemes, an arch-nemesis in an absurd office environment, and a somewhat functional Dodge Charger with a character of its own. Together, although their plans may contradict each other with terrible consequences, Sami and his rag-tag group must work together while meeting the usual host of obstacles-—the “usual,” that is, if back-alley brawls, trips to prison, or catastrophic LSD-related misunderstandings are just your usual, everyday fare.
On this session of the Green Room we bring you Kollaboration Los Angeles Alum Track IX, a seasoned beatboxer who’s been featured in Pitch Perfect 2 as well as one 2-time top 16 beatboxer for the US Beatbox Championships. Let us know what you think about her mad skills in the comments!
We interview the cast and crew of the new supernatural thriller feature film The Unbidden which premiered at the 2016 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) organized by Visual Communications. We chat with director Quentin Lee and cast members Amy Hill, Akemi Look, and Hayden Szeto about making the film, advice for rising filmmakers, and what’s next for The Unbidden.
ABOUT THE FILM:
LAUREN (TAMLYN TOMITA), A MYSTERY NOVELIST, LIVES ALONE IN A CREEPY OLD HOUSE on a quiet, unassuming suburban street. Lately, she experiences restless sleep due to a progression of unexplained nightmares involving a bloodied and tortured man (Jason Yee). Their severity pushes her into a near catatonic state. As a reprieve and possible cure, she enlists her lifelong besties Kat (Julia Nickson), Anna (Elizabeth Sung), and Rachel (Amy Hill) for a Halloween séance. As horror film buffs know full well, women in the genre often don’t fare well. They are either killer bait or the big bad behind the supernatural shenanigans. In indie cinema filmmaker and Festival veteran Quentin Lee’s THE UNBIDDEN, the machinations of women drive forward a narrative in which an either/or back story rarely defines any woman’s character.
We continue our interviews at the 2016 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) organized by Visual Communications with a chat with Janice D. Tanaka, documentary filmaker and the director for Rebel With a Cause: The Life of Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga. Janice talks about discovering the amazing and badass life of Aiko, who was her mother’s best friend, and the drive to document her role in the redress movement for the unlawful internment of Japanese Americans in WW2.
ABOUT THE FILM:
VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS ALUMNUS JANICE D. TANAKA has been active in the film and media industry for over 30 years. Aside from working as a producer and educator, Tanaka has also served as the Manager for Diversity Development at Fox, where she worked on initiatives to employ professionals of color. Her works WHEN YOU’RE SMILING: THE DEADLY LEGACY OF INTERNMENT (1999) and RIGHT OF PASSAGE (2014) have anchored key moments in Japanese American history. Tanaka’s latest documentary feature, REBEL WITH A CAUSE: THE LIFE OF AIKO HERZIG YOSHINAGA, is an endearing and essential portrait of a woman whose discovery of premeditated governmental misconduct during the WWII was crucial — not only to the landmark 1987 coram nobis cases of Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Koramatsu and Minoru Yasui, but also the National Council for Japanese Americans Redress (NCJAR) lawsuit of 1983.
Kollaboration Executive Director Minji Chang chats with singer-songwriter Jae Jin who talks about his personal musical journey from Baltimore to NYC and now Atlanta. Jae shares about the personal moments that lead him to take up life as an artist and living life on his own terms.
Producers: Minji Chang & Marvin Yueh
Director: John Enriquez
Assistant Directors: Eva Hsia & Brianna Kim
Camera Operator: Derek Miranda & Jimmy Hang
Editor: Brianna Kim
In Los Angeles – a city where sleek Teslas zoom past homeless encampments along the I-10 every day – the income inequality gap between the wealthy and the poor is, well, gaping.
The Social Science Research Council recently released a study that compared life expectancy, educational achievement, and income across California’s 10 most populous metro areas, through a measure called the Human Development Index. 1
Out of all of the metro areas, LA has the widest gap in human development scores. It’s disheartening that the neighborhood index score of wealthy neighborhoods Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Hermosa Beach Cities is quadruple the score of the lowest, South Central LA and Watts.2 But it’s not too surprising.
We’re living in Tinseltown: the poor stay poor and the wealthy get wealthier. Same old story, right?
But this is where chef Roy Choi comes into the picture. You may know him for his Kogi food truck mobile empire, but he doesn’t stop with these mouthwatering-basically-LA-on-a-plate-tacos.
Choi has some real heart for the people in the city he calls his home – and he’s not one to sit around doing nothing. He recently opened up in an interview with Kollaboration on his heart and vision for Locol, Choi’s ambitious and fresh take on fast food, where “wholesomeness, deliciousness, and affordability don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”3
Mid-January of this year, Choi and restaurateur Daniel Patterson opened up restaurant Locol on the corner of East 103rd and Wilmington Avenue in the South LA neighborhood of Watts. This neighborhood sits smack dab in the middle of a food desert. Food deserts are defined as low-income tracts with limited access to grocery stores and supermarkets that sell fresh produce. It’s a sad reality that more than 1 million people across California live in these food deserts, where it’s easier to buy a can of soda and chips from the liquor store down the block than fresh produce for your family’s next meal.
On Locol’s website, there’s a blurb describing the vision behind the food the restaurant serves, and this line particularly sums up the heart of the matter well: “We believe that chefs should feed America, and not suits.”3 Choi has had enough of the current food industry: both, the massive corporation-owned fast food chains where profit’s the name of the game, and the “elitist… silver spoon” restaurants which only the wealthy can afford. He lays it out, “If we’re truly the best chefs in the world, then maybe we shouldn’t just be cooking for the most fortunate.”4
Choi describes his vision in an interview with MAD in 2013, “I’d really love to see the chefs do what I was asking at an extreme level. Go to the poorest points of their neighborhoods and think about food in those areas. Think about food in the schools, in the neighborhoods, in the prisons, and think about how to bring some more affordable food there… We have these chefs representing cities all over the world, and they need to think about exactly how powerful they are and how much people would appreciate it.”4
And because of the influence chefs have these days (think Hell’s Kitchen, Iron Chef), Choi urges chefs around the world to get up and take action – to take moral responsibility for their communities, “Even through all the haters and lovers of what the speech kicked off, I hope we don’t get lost too much in our bleeding hearts or criticisms and remember to actually do something.”5
All of his people who help keep Locol going are sourced straight from the community. By the community and for the community: not only is Locol providing healthful, delicious, and affordable food options to the neighborhood of Watts, the restaurant is providing jobs and skills to the people it’s here to serve. Choi explains, “Our people, the people who work for us here, trust us, because we are constantly trying to fulfill he promises we make… They trusted us on the food… Everybody who works here is from the immediate neighborhood. And we found our people the old-fashioned way. We posted help-wanted fliers on telephone poles. Around here, word of mouth is faster than the Internet.”6
Locol has plans to expand to Oakland and the Tenderloin district of San Francisco – both home to low-income, disinvested neighborhoods. Goals for these news additions? To grow, provide as many jobs as possible, and “continue to provide skill sets so our staff can move on in a craft or career either within Locol or beyond.”6
And last but not least, we can’t talk about urban revitalization in Los Angeles without mentioning her kombucha-sippin’ alter ego – gentrification.
Merriam-Webster defines gentrification as: “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”
Or if you prefer a more reputable source, here’s a definition from Urban Dictionary: “When a bunch of white people move to the ghetto and open up a bunch of cup cake shops.”
So will Locol cause gentrification in Watts? With the historical rate of governmental disinvestment and neglect of the Watts community, most likely it won’t.
Choi gets straight to the nitty gritty on what really matters.
“Gentrification? Let’s talk about that when people actually start to invest heavily. Gentrification is not the worst thing. The worst thing is the current state of no jobs, lack of funding, educational budget cuts, racial profiling, infiltration of fast food,” says Choi. “Gentrification ain’t so bad compared to neglect.” 6
We’re back with another interview from Kollaboration’s coverage of the 2016 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) organized by Visual Communications. For this segment we chat with documentary filmmaker Leo Chiang, who’s film Out Run is currently in the midst of it’s festival circuit run. We talk about his experience covering this unique and important story as well as his advice to young documentarians.
ABOUT THE FILM: As leader of the world’s only LGBT political party, Bemz Benedito dreams of being the first transgender woman in the Philippine Congress. But in a predominantly Catholic nation, rallying for LGBT representation in the halls of Congress is not an easy feat. Bemz and her eclectic team of queer political warriors must rethink traditional campaign strategies to amass support from unlikely places. Taking their equality campaign to small-town hair salons and regional beauty pageants, the activists mobilize working-class trans hairdressers and beauty queens to join the fight against their main political opponent, a homophobic evangelical preacher, and prove to the Filipino electorate that it’s time to take the rights of LGBT people seriously. But as outsiders trying to get inside the system, will they have to compromise their political ideals in order to win? Culminating on election day, OUT RUN provides a unique look into the challenges LGBT people face as they transition into the mainstream and fight for dignity, legitimacy, and acceptance across the globe.
This week we bring you another session of the Green Room we recorded in the Bay Area, this time featuring AC Lorenzo, formerly of the seminal Asian American R&B group Kai. AC sings a few covers of his old and new favorites and treats us to an acoustic version of an unreleased Kai song.