Friday, March 17, 2006

2006 SFIAAFF—Opening Night Gala Gossip

The Asian Art Museum co-sponsored the opening night screening of AMERICANese and hosted the gala reception. Catering by McCall and Associates was deliciously achieved in the North and South Courts, desserts by Sugar Bowl Bakery, Galaxy Deserts and Joseph Schmidt in the Samsung Hall, and drinks provided all over the place—my favorites being the Kikkoman plum wine, the Vermeer Chocolate Cream liqueur, and the ever-appreciated Sierra Nevada pale ale! No wonder I had difficulty negotiating BART on the way home.

I rushed to the museum foregoing the Q&A at the Castro Theater to mingle with the director and cast of AMERICANese but they, no doubt, were in a private party or out to dinner because they were nowhere to be found. My dreams of schmoozing with Joan Chen dashed!!

But I did have a great talk with Roger Garcia. I tried to woo a scoop out of him with regard to San Francisco's upcoming International Film Festival but he was professionally tightlipped, and even a bit irked that I already knew about Gubra, complaining that Yasmin just had to spill the beans on her blog!

He mentioned Amir had recently completed The Last Communist but was uninformed that the life of the film is being tracked in a blog under the same title.

Well, Amir's next film is a horror film with musical numbers, he offered. That would be Susuk, I cut him off at the pass. Garcia raised an eyebrow.

I thanked him belatedly for last year's Malaysian showcase, for which Garcia was responsible, and for the cutting edge Asian films he has procured for the Bay Area over the past few festivals. He agreed to let me interview him during the festival. Keep tuned.

I told him I was delighted that the festival had secured Tsai Ming-Liang's The Wayward Cloud and he concurred, saying he didn't know why it was such an effort to get the film when it had screened at so many other festivals. He encouraged me to do some prep for the film by watching Grace Chang in the old Chinese musicals Wild Wild Rose and Mambo Girl, which I've dutifully ordered from

Garcia apologized for not being able to tell me anything further about the program line-up for the San Francisco International and seemed bemused that there is a bevy of bloggers piecing together the films to be shown. "It's not wrong of me to keep you somewhat in suspense, is it?" he asked. Not at all, I smiled, do your job.

I will tell you, he said, that we are featuring a batch of experimental Japanese film and you should look for that.

So noted.


Brian Darr said...

I've been meaning to delve into some of those Cathay DVDs of Grace Chang films, and if Roger Garcia says it will help me better appreciate the next Tsai film, I will follow his orders. I'll try to make a trip to Chinatown this evening. I still haven't gotten around to renting the Goodbye, Dragon Inn DVD to catch up with the Skywalk Is Gone short either though. Time is running short!

Glad your digging was able to come up with something, anyway. Japanese experimental films, huh?

Michael Guillen said...

Just received "Wild Wild Rose" and "Mambo Girl" in the mail today. I popped "Wild Wild Rose" into my computer to take a peek, and it looks fun, and beautiful, but it's past midnight, and I've been watching movies all day and there's just no way. But I look forward to following Roger's orders soon!!

Brian Darr said...

I was indeed able to find a copy of Wild Wild Rose (but no Mambo Girl) at Gift Entertainment on Jackson Street. At another store I found copies of Hou's Three Times at a price so low I was sorely tempted to pick one up. But no, while I still think there's still a strong chance of seeing it projected in 35mm I will hold out.

But it does make me wonder in the age of parallel imports if it still makes sense for film festivals to keep tight-lipped on all their selections; if I knew for sure that Three Times was coming to a cinema near me I wouldn't even consider blind-buying a copy of the DVD, even at a low price.

Then again, I may be an anomaly in my viewing patterns and priorities. And the longer lead time there is between a festival screening announcement and the screening itself, the more opportunity there is for those folks who prefer buying DVD imports to film festival tickets to track down titles.

Michael Guillen said...

Interesting comment, Brian. And thanks for the tip about Gift Entertainment on Jackson Street. I was wondering where one would go to find these titles.

Not sure what I finally think about the enforced secrecy around festival line-ups. I guess it depends on what kind of buzz you're trying to build up around an event. Our viewing patterns and priorities are most likely similar. Ultimately, even if I know something is available on dvd, I would much rather see it on the big screen, so I'm willing to wait.