Saturday, October 23, 2010


Popcorn popping, music blasting (couldn’t hear myself talking) and booths were alive like ants in my kitchen the other night, trippin’, zippin’ and flippin’.

The difference is that the booths were bugging nobody and because an ant sounds like a relative you see at Thanksgiving, film patrons didn’t cry uncle at the night’s program, which although no one was dressed in shorts, there were plenty of shorts going around.

Starting off with YOUNG AND RESTLESS (no, not a soap opera but an opus of shorts about the challenges of growing up), followed by buffet choice of BEYOND HUMAN or STANDING QUEER (my wife and I chose BEYOND HUMAN, for reasons that will soon be apparent) climaxing with the Asian version of the “N” word…NINJA, ARE YOU CRAZY?

It was the first night for my wife Silvia and I’s booth, where I performed 15+ free Qi Healing treatments (a session where I use my our Qi – internal life force - to help folks overcome pain, a skill that uses Qi beams) and Silvia did 12+ free Qi Reading, a skill she learned where she is able to figure out one’s physical, mental and emotional issues with out touching you.

We were anxious to see BEYOND HUMAN mostly because of the short HEAL, about a young child caught between the conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan discovers he has the ability to heat. Where because he is often late for school he goes from being the “goat” to the hero. Of course, if you’ve seen the film you’ll get what I’m driving at.

All the shorts of this program were rather intriguing, each one magical in their own way. And even though one of the shorts JUNKO’S SHAMISEN got cut-off by technical difficulties, life is about destiny and fate as director Sol Friedman would find out later in the evening.

As the touches of verbage increasingly tries to push the politically incorrect envelope without trying to blatantly upset anyone, there is a new “N” word in town, and in the Asian American community that word is NINJA. The subliminal humor of the letter is not going unnoticed because what few people realize is that the most effective ninja do not dress up in black, wear swords draped over their backs and run around in stooped positions but rather dress like everyday people and blend in looking as inconspicuous as possible.

So if you missed NINJA, ARE YOU CRAZY, check it out on Sunday, October 24, 12:30 pm.

Our fearless leader of the SDAFF shares, “Shorts are a very important part of any film festival. Our festival must be an educational platform and short films are an important part of this because ultimately they are really the heart and soul of every filmmaker. It’s how every filmmaker starts.”

Thus it was very appropriate that at the conclusion of BEYOND HUMAN, most of the filmmakers of their respective shorts (Fernanado Huerto, Greg Pak, Ted Chung, Sol Friedman and Mian Adnan Ahmad) gave a few short statements about their work. But of course Silvia and I were biased to Ahmad’s work on HEAL, which although it really looks like it was shot in Afghanistan it was shot in Orange County.

When I posed the question to Ahmad if he had ever met anyone who does the sort of healing that the boy did in the film he shared that he met a few people but nothing like in the film. I couldn’t help but to blurt out that if he had time later on, to come visit our healing booth in the lobby.

After the short, Ahmad, the lead actor David Negahban and the producer stopped by and had an interesting mellow chat.

And speaking of not mellow…ROBOGEISHA. The curator of the Extreme Cinema program Phillip Lorenzo told me earlier, “Before the films start, the audience is warned that if you are going to be offended by whatever it is, sexual situations, samurai swords coming out of the buttocks, scenes that are going to be supper offensive…there’s the door, we’ll give you your money back.

“But for the audiences that come to see these films, this is what they are there for. You’ll be surprised who comes to these screening. It doesn’t mean these are the people you don’t see every day, their not coming from under the sewers, these are folks who hold 9-5 jobs, no names, celebrities, all who come to our screenings…people just show up. It is this charm these films have, something is in it for everyone if they want (or dare) to take the ride.”

The announcement was made, no one left, and then for 90 minutes the wild and wacky ruled the festival. The film was beyond hilarious, it was down right psychotic...and we all loved it. It's the kind of film that reminds you that if you ever see a geisha, the one thing you must never tell her is, "Hey, cut it out will ya."

That note I made earlier about the short JUNKO’S SHAMISEN?. Prior to ROBOGEISHA the short was shown to the rowdy Extreme Cinema audience that applauded it through the roof. Director Friedman noted that in his short was also featured at a previous film festival with ROBOGEISHA, so he was quite happy with the unexpected but welcome screening change.

Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes our minds, hearts and gut don’t always see it because most people don’t learn to listen to all three. Maybe Friedman is now a believer.

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