FACE: losing it and finding it in intercultural America

FACE: losing it and finding it in intercultural America

Playing at Pacific Cinematheque until Monday
as part of explorASIAN festival.
Director in Attendance.

Genie
(Kristy Wu), doesn't like her mother who abandoned her when she was a
child to be raised by her grandmother.  Kim (Bai Ling) was a timid
and conflicted 20 year old in the 1970’s,
who unexpectedly became pregnant after a date rape.  Oh – the
shame of being a pregnant only daughter being raised by a single mother
in Chinatown.

The
solution: Kim's  traditional mother
(Kieu Chinh) sets up a shotgun with the arrogant womanizing 
father, Daniel (Will Yun Lee from
ELEKTRA) comes from a “good family”, wealthy enough to live in a nice
house in the suburbs.  But Kim cannot abide the constraints of a
loveless marriage and flees.

Genie
grows up with Poh-Poh (cantonese for maternal grandmother).  She
adores her, and resents her mother.  But Kim decides to return to
attend Genie's graduation and maybe even move back to New York.

Meanwhile
Genie
(Kristy Wu) is dancing at a hip hip music club and meets Michael
(Treach), the  African American DJ. They begin a relationship as
Genie struggles to keep the issues in her life separate.  But
Michael follows her to Chinatown where Poh Poh's friends report that
Genie is seeing a “
Hahk Gwei” (Black Devil in cantonese).  Oh – the shame of your grandaughter seeing a black-American man.

“I
know what you are,” Michael says to Genie, “You're an angry young black
man, in an Asian woman's body.”  Michale detects all the simmering
anger that Genie emits, as she struggles to balance her life's issues,
love for her Poh Poh, resentment of her mother, trying to fit in with
contemporary American society, all the while spying on her “biological
father” as he has started up a new family in the suburbs.

FACE
is a sensitive movie about the issues faced by 3 generations of mothers
and daughters.  It's about what you are too afraid to face, while
trying to save face, and also face up to new challenges and create a
new identity for oneself. 

The Asian men in this movie
are either cads or wimps.  The women are wimps or arrogant, or
lost in their own views of the world.  But eventually they all
come closer to understanding each other – but not completely. 

Director,
writer and producer Bertha Bay-Sa Pan has created a moving story with
great character development, leaving lots of room for what is left
unsaid, as well as what is spoken.  She plays against stereotypes
and has also created such a wonderful male character of Michael, that
she has been lauded at African-American film festivals.  Check
this out.

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