23rd Annual Asian American Showcase
April 6 - 18
The Gene Siskel Film Center and the Foundation for Asian American Independent Media (FAAIM) present the 23rd edition of "Asian American Showcase," April 6 through 18. Enjoy the freewheeling diversity of independent dramas, comedies, and documentaries, including selected screenings with filmmakers in person.
From April 6 through June 3, enjoy the art exhibit "On/Off Grid," curated by Lydia Fu, in our Gallery/Café. The show features contemporary Asian American and Asian Diasporic artists who explore ideas, theories, concepts, and dreams of our present and future relationships with technology.
— Barbara Scharres, Director of Programming
For their essential role in making the "Asian American Showcase" possible, the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks Foundation for Asian American Independent Media (FAAIM) founding members Sooyoung Park, Ben Kim, and William Shin; Festival Director Tim Hugh; programming associates Jonathan Laxamana, Huu Ly, and Lydia Fu; FAAIM's extended network of volunteers; the Filipino American Network; the Alphawood Foundation; the Illinois Arts Council Agency; and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
2018, Joanne Mony Park, USA, 82 min. With Joony Kim, Chris Griz.
A Korean American brother and sister follow diverging paths to independence in this polished and stylish first feature distinguished by innovative camerawork and dreamy interludes. Brother Christopher recedes into the background as the traditional good son, sacrificing stoically for the family, while sister Hana (fashion model Kim) leads a double life, pursuing a covert career as a model while working as a waitress in the family restaurant and serving as a caregiver to their chronically ill mother. Hana is also secretly exploring her growing attraction to women, and, when a new relationship with the warmly openhearted Latina Nico (Griz) threatens to turn serious, she is forced to choose between love and her conservative family. In English and Korean with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
The Dragon Painter
1919, William Worthington, USA, 53 min. With Sessue Hayakawa, Tsuru Aoki.
"Hayakawa is never less than magnetic…a silent actor with a rare presence, commanding the screen with stillness rather than broad gestures." - Noel Murray, The Onion
The paintings of Tatsu (Hayakawa), a handsome village youth and wild-spirited artist, portray his imaginary princess, who has been transformed into a dragon. Seduced into becoming the apprentice of a great master by the sight of the man's daughter dressed as his dream lover, Tatsu finds that love will demand a supreme sacrifice if the fantasy is to become flesh and blood. This story with the allure of folklore shows off the larger-than-life talent of Japanese American star Hayakawa (THE CHEAT, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI), who came of age in the silent era but went to a mainstream career of more than one-hundred roles over six decades, in defiance of Hollywood stereotypes. DigiBeta video. (BS)
The Chinese Exclusion Act
2017, Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu, USA, 130 min.
- Sun, Apr 8th 4:45pm
This powerful and wide-ranging documentary explores the origin and the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the only piece of American legislation ever to target an ethnic and racial group by name and deny them entry to the U.S. and access to citizenship. The infamous law remained in effect for more than fifty years, sanctioning multiple forms of defamation and discrimination, documented here in examples of media carrying shocking racial caricatures and slurs, and extolling the superiority of the white race. Through an enlightening look at the cultural, social, economic, and political dimensions of the law, Emmy-winning filmmakers Burns and Yu create a film that strongly resonates with questions of immigration and citizenship today. DigiBeta video. (BS)
2018, Tom Huang, USA, 104 min. With Tom Huang, Sara Amini.
"Tenderly told and visually sublime…striking in its subtle and meticulous allure." - Kathy Rong Zhou, Slug Magazine
"Cinematically innovative and deft, and a lovely work of art." - Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
One man's transformation comes by way of a travel adventure in this tragicomedy featuring spectacular vistas of the American West. Joe, an unhappily divorced corporate drone, is the target of affectionate needling by Amelia (Amini), a sprightly co-worker who pokes fun at his stodginess and regales him with tales of her frequent travels. One day Amelia disappears, leaving Joe only a handwritten itinerary and a cryptic note with the words, "Find me." Ditching obligations that include being a doormat to his ex and chore boy to his quarrelsome mom, he sets off for Amelia's "amazing other world," only to encounter a host of goofy accidents and pitfalls that await a couch potato in the great outdoors. Director Huang (WHY AM I DOING THIS?) brings a touching world-weary pathos to the role of Joe, which serves him well in the film's unexpected finale. DCP digital. (BS)
Stand Up Man
2017, Aram Collier, Canada, 85 min. With Daniel Jun, Nathalie Younglai.
The dreams of one aspiring standup comic take a beating in this comedy that satirizes a few stereotypes (Korean, Canadian, Millennial) while leading its hero, beleaguered Moses Kim (Jun), to a happy and much-needed attitude adjustment. Surprised with the deed to his parents' small family restaurant on his wedding day, Moses, who can't cook worth a darn, sees his dream future taking wing as he settles down to a workday life of drudgery and, soon, fatherhood. Director Collier leads Moses through a set of trials, including being saddled with the guardianship of his punky and curious teenage cousin from Korea, that test his sense of self as well as his sense of humor, before the standup man discovers that there's more than one way to become a showbiz sensation. DigiBeta video. (BS)
Proof of Loyalty: Kazuo Yamane and the Nisei Soldiers of Hawaii
2017, Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers, USA, 55 min.
The WWII heroism and loyalty of Hawaiian Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans, is highlighted through one hero, Kazuo Yamane, whose little-known story is pertinent to today's debates on immigration. While citizens of Japanese heritage on the U.S. mainland were rounded up and incarcerated in detention camps, relatively few among Hawaii's 40% Japanese population were detained, and large numbers of men volunteered for military and other service. Drafted into the army prior to Pearl Harbor, Yamane was singled out for intelligence work due to his knowledge of the Japanese language and culture. The film details his substantial contributions to the war effort through work at the Pentagon and in Europe under Eisenhower.
Preceded by the short THE ORANGE STORY by Erika Street (2016, USA, 18 min.). Both in DCP digital. (BS)
Minding the Gap
2018, Bing Liu, USA, 100 min.
- Wed, Apr 18th 8:15pm
"Visually impressive and emotionally rich…a heady mix." - Jason Gorber, Point of View Magazine
"This is personal storytelling writ large…such emotional precision makes for a truly moving experience." - Stephen Saito, The Moveable Feast
Three boys, Zack, Keire, and Bing, come of age on the wrong side of the tracks in Rockford, Illinois, sharing experiences and secrets, but also seeking to forget the bad things that happen at home behind closed doors. Over a period of years, self-taught filmmaker Bing's deft and fluid camera tracks their hours of freedom at the skating park, shares their confidences, and creates a chronicle that addresses with remarkable intimacy the soaring exhilaration being alive. The boys become young adults before our eyes, struggling with the bewildering new demands of manhood. Zack becomes a father, Keire loses his, and Bing begins to come to terms with the past. Special advance screening courtesy of Kartemquin Films. DCP digital. (BS)