2019 APA VISIONARIES SHORT FILM COMPETITION
Filmmakers Explore the Modern Asian-Pacific American Experience
By Allison Picurro
Up-and-coming visionaries explore familial dysfunction, dating and solitude in three intimate short films, now available to stream.
The 2019 APA Visionaries Short Film Competition asked emerging filmmakers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to share how they visualize the modern Asian-Pacific American experience. Three finalists, whose films range from 10 to 15 minutes, explore complicated family dynamics, sexuality and solitude.
Here’s what you need to know, as told by the filmmakers themselves before you stream all three on HBO.
Written and co-directed by: Nirav Bhakta
What it’s about: When Sujata gets unexpected news about her childhood crush, she seeks to rekindle their spark via Facebook, unbeknownst to her abusive husband.
From the filmmaker: “We live in a digital age where social media notifications and news feeds shrink the distances that once separated our immigrant parents from their countries of birth. We wanted to explore what communication is like today for that same generation and how it has shifted to allow them private channels…. We had a conversation with our lead actress, Vee Kumari, about the lack of authentic roles for Indian women above 50 in Hollywood and beyond. Domestic violence is still a sensitive topic that we rarely talk about as a community. In reality, we ignore that many women grow old with their abusers.”
Moonwalk With Me (2018)
Written and directed by: So Young Shelly Yo
What it’s about: Juno, a Korean-American girl, is haunted by her absentee father’s disappearance. Upon his unexpected return, she must decide between keeping her drifting patriarch grounded or choosing to let go.
From the filmmaker: “The film sheds light on the sacrifices immigrants made in pursuit of a better future… and encapsulates the moment we learn to accept the circumstances and let go of any animosity toward our upbringing… All the unspoken words, thoughts, emotions and the lingering tension that is always in the air between [Juno and her father]. Because of the absences and lack of communication between them, their conversations are always short and shallow.”
Written and co-directed by: Julie Zhan
What it’s about: Jackie, a 60-year-old Chinese immigrant mother, is challenged to finally put herself first for the first time in her life when she reluctantly agrees to maneuver the world of online dating apps with the help of her daughter, Emma.
From the filmmaker: “It’s a fascinating world to put a 60-year-old Chinese mother in. She is forced to navigate technology and the evolution of dating culture; but underneath it all, she has to come to terms with self-love — a concept foreign to Chinese, and most Asian cultures.”