Saturday, October 30, 2010

CLOSING NIGHT – LOT OF LOVE IN THE AIR


Time is one of those things that goes by fast, slow and for sure the moments are transitory, one of those things we have no control of except in our heads. Why else would some weeks and years feel like they are going by faster than others? It’s a trick to make you feel wide in a world of narrow minds.

Let’s take this past eight days for example; the 11th SDAFF zipped by faster than a dragonfly in heat, which incidentally a dragonfly has the air speed acceleration of 60 mph.

The closing night feature was AUREVOIR TAIPEI, a cute love story between book clerk Susie (Amber Kuo) and Kai, a noodle shop owner’s son who doesn’t realize that his girlfriend went to France to avoid him rather than plan for him to meet up with her in Paris. Filled with a klutzy gang dressed in bright orange led by a guy that acts like Pee Wee Herman, a tall goofy fellow kidnapped by the gang in an effort to blackmail Kai into handing over some secret package the gang believes is a major score in their efforts to become an official gang, and a down on his luck cop dropped by his girlfriend trying to maintain his image that cops can get any woman they want, this light romantic comedy is heavy with film festival awards.

Living in Taipei in the 1970s-‘80s, I loved reliving moments of pain and gain as I recognized several landmarks and city features. The movie played as if a hand reached down from a crack in the sky and swirled time to reveal how the city has remained the same but on the other hand has changed. The skyline, cars and all those things you’d expect that should change with a thriving metropolis blew my time-warp mind but the simplicity of the night markets, noodle shops and how the Chinese people interact with each other on a daily basis remained frozen in time.

After the screening, American born director Arvin Chen shares with the audience, “After college I began working in Taipei, returned to California and went back to shoot this film. Over the years I became obsessed with Taipei. I grew up in a boring suburb in northern. California, and Taipei was a whole different world.

“Films often times portray Taipei as heavy and dark, but for my vision of Taipei, there is romance in the streets, lots of food, colorful people and characters…this film is basically inspired by Taipei.”

And before I forget, I think it is sooooo important to recognize all the efforts of the SDAFF staff, volunteers and all the folks zipping here and there making this a wonderful festival experience. For my wife Silvia and I, being able to share our knowledge and skills with the patrons, the Ultrastar staff and the SDAFF volunteers and workers that visited our booth, it was our pleasure and honor.

We’d like to especially thank the lads and lasses that bent over backwards to help us set up our booth, make sure things were running smooth and had the great patience and heartfelt appreciation for what we were doing as when it was time to close-up for the evenings, they felt it was important to make sure that we got to help all the folks that patiently waited around for Silvia’s Qi Reading and my Pulling out the Pain stunts.

Edward Shaffer and Ruriko Sato (Koko), you guys are awesome, and we look forward, as to all the SDAFF staffers and volunteers that visited us during the 8 days, to seeing you all again. To Christian, good fortunes and adventures in the your sojourn of education to the Philippines. And of course to our fearless leader Lee Ann Kim, thank you for your love and support in what we do.

But based on all the films that I watched (over 20) and the consistently full theaters I noticed at each of those screening, the festival was also an amazing experience for many.

Yet as a whole, besides the jammed packed theaters for most of the 140 films, including early showings and even for the more obscure and cultural specific movies, another measure of success of the festival is reflected in the more than 10 added screenings of several films to allow audiences to either once again relive the magical moments that these films offered or for those who were not able to see the initial sold out showings.

One of these added screenings on closing night was yet another romantic comedy that further touched the hearts and souls of the audience, the Dustin Nguyen starring, Charlie Nguyen directed FOOL FOR LOVE, a quaint love story between an up and coming singer and a low-paid hotel bathroom attendant (Dustin).

In FOOL FOR LOVE, the cute, puppy-love sensibility that is a popular theme in Taiwanese young love films is replaced with the heart tugging angst that comes with loyalty love magic where a man will go to the ends of the earth and back to profess and confess one’s love for the Helen of Troy of his life.

We all have that Helen in our lives, but as a winner of the Best Husband in America Award by Leeza Gibbons in 1992 (back then she was the white Oprah Winfrey), love is not always just about looking at each other but looking in the same direction. Always remember how and why you fell in love, then your ship will be guided to a peaceful Troy, void of war and anger, and filled with love, passion and respect.

Until next year's 12 Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival, aurevoir my friends.

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