Vancouver Asian Film Festival – Gala Opening + Motel + What Are You Anyway?

Vancouver Asian Film Festival + Gala Opening + Motel + What Are You Anyway?

There was a good fun crowd at Tinseltown for VAFF's
opening night. I immediately joined friends Elwin and Fanna, and while
standing in line to go in we said “Hi” to friends Jim Wong-Chu,
film-maker Poping Au, Kathy Leung, Tom Chin, Joyce Lam as well as VAFF
executive director Peter Leung and VAFF founder Barbara Lee.

This year's VAFF opening featured two films.  The award winning animated short What Are You Anyways? by Jeff Chiba Stearns,
and Motel by Michael Kang.  Both films were very enjoyable and
expressed aspects of Asian-ess that the audience could releate

What Are You Anyways? is a classic animated short that consisted of a
series of vignettes about growing up half-Japanese, or “Hapa” as the
main character describes the Hawaiian term for “Half-Asian.”  This
film is hilarious, as situations unfold such as dealing with
“red-necks”, dating Japanese girls, and falling in love.

, is a live drama about the awakening adolescence experienced by a
chubby 13-year old American Chinese youth named Ernest Chin (Jeffry
Chyau) whose family owns and runs a blue motel.  He has a crush on
an older teenage Chinese American waitress whose family owns and runs
the Chinese restaurant up the road.  Comic situations develop when
a charismatic Korean-American guy (Sung Kang, Better Luck Tomorrow)
checks into the motel becoming an older brother type mentor figure to
the fatherless Ernest.

The Motel was workshopped at the Sundance Filmmakers Lab and
ultimately received the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award.
What Are You Anyways? won the Best Animation Award at the 2005 Los Angeles ARPA
International Film Festival

As always, the VAFF Gala is one of my favorite Asian Canadian Cultural
events.  It is a great place to see the movers and shakers in our
Asian Canadian literary and arts community.  I was greeted by
Charlie Cho (CBC Radio) and Prem Gill (City TV) with cheers for the
work I have been doing with the Save Kogawa House committee.  Prem
told me that City TV did a piece on Kogawa House that evening.

It was great to see Eunhee Cha, who made the NFB documentary Tribe of
last year about my cousin Rhonda Larrabee.  She passed out
postcards of her new film Blue Bird of Happiness telling me that I
would love her new film in which “A neighbourhood activist decides that
a 7-year-old asian girl being raised by white parents needs his help.”
Writer Liz Nonuda seems to have a great sense of humour.

Ray Shum, friend and photographer for our Asian Canadian arts
community, was taking lots of pictures for VAFF.  It was great to
introduce him to Jeff Chiba Stearns, who told him, “During the Q&A,
I noticed you were taking pictures and I was thinking – I want some of
those pictures!” 

Jeff was accompanied by his real-life girlfriend Jenni Kato. 
Joyce Lam, founder of Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, shared with
Jenni that when Jeff announced that the woman whom the character
“Jenny” was based on was taking pictures in the audience during the
Q&A, everybody was craning their necks to see her.  Jenni is a
stunningly attractive and immediately likable woman, and it is easy to
see how Jeff fell in love with her – just like in his movie!

Joyce's partner Tom Chin is always great to see.  I invited him to
again be a co-host for Gung Haggis Fat Choy: the dinner.  Tom told
Jeff and me that he has now redesigned his half Canadian lumberjack
shirt / half Chinese jacket outfit… it is now half hockey
jersey!  Can't wait to see it!  But is it the Canucks, Maple
Leafs or Canadiens?

It was nice to talk to Susan Gordon of Vancouver Parks, and Eric
Erickson if the NFB, whom I discovered was the executive director of
“Tribe of One.”

Don Montgomery, executive director of ExplorASIAN and  Iris Chen
sat with our ACWW / Ricepaper community with Marlene Gates, Grace Chin
(organizer of Scripting Aloud), and Ricepaper collective Michelle Siu,
Jenny and Carol.  It was great to invite them all to the Naomi's
Road performance at the Vancouver Public Library, and for the
organizations to come on board as sponsors for the event.

Raymond Liens, an ExplorASIAN board member was there with Richard
Teterault, whom I discovered was the News Producer for Radio Canada
Television, and had assigned the story to cover the Save Kogawa House
presentation at City Hall.  It's really a small world, but a great

Kudos to VAFF founder Barbara Lee, executive director Peter Leung and
all the VAFF directors and volunteers.  This is definitely a good
contribution to our Asian Canadian arts community.

Check out the Ricepaper review of VAFF's opening night

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