STAR GAZING ON LAND AND SKY
The 30th Annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival presented by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) brought out many of the stars, directors and producers of the myriad of films shown during the 10 day festival. On the Red Carpet at the Opening Gala showing of White Frog at the Castro Theater I caught a glimpse of stars Joan Chen, BD Wong and Harry Shum with executive producer David Henry Hwang surrounded by a huge crowd of excited, eager fans to this sold out event..
Kudos to CAAM who brought a varied menu of movies from documentaries to movies from Asia to works by established as well as new emerging film makers.
I went to the showing of documentary film AMONG B-BOYS directed and produced by Christopher Woon, a local Foster City native. This, his first documentary feature, tells the story of young Hmong men who take on the sport of breakdancing which obviously is in conflict with the traditional culture of their parents. He tells the story of three breakers as they breakdance as their form of their recreation, which they claimed kept them out of trouble, while adjusting to the difficulties of melding into a new land and culture. Never having seen breakdancing myself, the movie showed me the precise skill of these amateurs as they joined and competed against each other in this dance form from early childhood to manhood. Interwoven in the story is the history of the Hmong people, from their escape from oppression in their home countries, to the adjustment to hard lives on the farmlands of California’s central valley and expansion into the Midwest to Minneapolis and Oklahoma. Wondering about what eventually would become of these b-boys, it was interesting to learn two are getting graduate degrees at Long Beach State University while another moved to Tulsa to live and work with a new generation of Hmongs. Like all stories about old versus new ways, youth vs older generations, this movie tells of the struggles of immigrants as they try to maintain their culture and meld into a new country’s ways at the same time.
Woon’s first exposure to filmmaking came as a UCLA student in Asian American studies and as an intern with Visual Communications in 2002. Using an Armed With a Camera Fellowship in 2004 he began Among B-Boys as a short but continued the film in a longer format when he received the James T. Yee Fellowship from CAAM in 2006. Since then he has traveled he country showing his film in Sacramento, Fresno, Univ of Massachusetts in Boston, sponsored by the Asian American Studies program. Chris plans to continue his studies towards a Masters in Asian American Studies but seeing his love for music, I am sure he will continue to find time to dance and make music and Hip Hop beats under the name of “Paper Son”. DVDs are available of this fine film. Website: Amongbboys.com.
STARS ON HIGH
Aha! I found the perfect place to go if you want to stargaze with nary a streetlamp in sight to ruin your viewing. This was at Greenhorn Creek Resort, just outside of Angel’s Camp, one of California’s Gold Country’s historic gold mining towns. Just a short couple of hours ride from the busy Bay Area into Calaveras County, and all too soon, you feel the stress and hustle of city living leave you as you inhale the fresh air, and start seeing stars in the sky above you.. I found Greenhorn Creek Resort a hidden gem as it is a wonderful get away destination either for itself, or as a midway stopover on the way to Yosemite. Best of all is the variety of accommodations available, be it condo villas overlooking the golf course or The Cottages at Greenhorn, which are two and three bedroom homes located right on the Greenhorn property. Most unique retreat, however, is the resort’s “Caddy Shack” with 5 bedrooms geared towards families or groups of up to 12 people complete with kitchen, backyard BBQ, horseshoe pit, and made especially convenient for golfers with golf carts brought to your door. General Manager Mike Kristoff and Golf Marketing Manager Buck Reed took us onto their Robert Trent Jones II redesigned course where we all enjoyed a round of golf at their expertly designed, manicured and well-kept course. Mike pointed out to us an especially interesting find on one fairway which they had not destroyd when the golf course was designed. It was a crudely built rock oven that once was used by Chinese workers in a gold mining camp, no doubt in the 1800s. Thank you, Greenhorn, for keeping our Chinese American history alive.
We capped the stay with a wonderful dinner at the resort’s CAMPS Restaurant, enjoying casual yet elegant dining with some lively musical entertainment played for diners’ pleasure every weekend. Stay and play packages are offered at very attractive prices and there are activities for every age group there from boating, hiking, shopping, gold mining and many chances for wine tasting throughout the area. Plan your next get-away with www.greenhorncreek.com.
A successful kick off party launched the Hep B Free: Santa Clara County campaign with over 700 cheering the organizers of this important project. As MCs Michele Lew and Ted Fang explained, the Hep B Free Santa Clara County is a countywide campaign to make Santa Clara County the first hepatitis-free county in the nation. A grass roots movement made of up a coalition of health care providers, community organizations, elected officials, students and concerned citizens, organized the Dynasty Restaurant Ballroom dinner to kick off a formal launch of a countywide initiative that seeks t unite community and medical stakeholders to promote awareness of the dangers of hepatitis B. Dr. Sam So announced that Asian Americans tend to be infected at a much higher rate with 1 in 12 Asians chronically infected compared to 1 in 1000 in the general population.As a hepatitis B survivor, Sandra Andrada told the solemn audience that without treatment or monitoring, 1 in 4 of infected individuals will die from liver cancer or liver failure. Among those citing the importance of this drive were Congressman Mike Honda, Assemblyman Jerry Hill, San Jose Councilman Kansen Chu, S.C. County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr., in addition to many local office holders. Ted Fang proudly told us that the original Hep B Free campaign was launched in San Francisco in 2007 and has now been replicated around the country as a model in hepatitis B prevention.
UNSUNG STARS IN THE NEWS
Young Korean teenagers from Seoul and Cheonan traveled to Hilton Head to receive instruction at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy. Haney, former coach of Tiger Woods, personally works with each student and his classes continually feature students from 27 countries across five continents. Look for these potential golf stars on the pro tour horizon soon.
The Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers celebrated a Founder’s Day Luncheon tasting a fusion of Szechuan, Taiwan, Chung Ching, Chen Du and Shanghai flavors at Foster City’s Spices Restaurant. Owner Jack Wang introduced to the club some special hot hot dishes to, as he said, make your lips grow numb. Favorites were the Golden Rice Crispy, Chicken wings with explosive chili, fried stinky tofu, beef in red oil and cumin lamb. Little Matthew Chow performed a very believable Changing Faces dance in red satin gear and the all too important high hat. He will perform for venues if asked, and part of his profit gusto Friends of Bay Area public schools. Scorching their tongues that day were Darlene and Bill Lock of Wells Fargo, Al Low, Ginger Lai, Hank Quock, Doris and Dorothy Lum, Gloria Gee, Frank Jang and Marjorie Quon.
News from NYC Wally Wong is that he currently working with Frank Young, Producer Director of the Theatre under the Stars in Houston, Texas, to mount the musical Under the Stars.. Wally is the brother of the late popular agent for Asian American performers, Jadin Wong.
Saratoga’s Hakone Gardens celebrated Year of the Dragon Festival recently with a dance performed by the Orchard Asian Cultural Dance Troupe, performance of double lions by the Far East Dragon and Lion Dance Association, and a Chinese Zither solo by Jennifer Liu. Food presentation was performed by Chi Am Circle volunteer members Beverly Harada, Helen Yamauchi, Paulette Curby, Marichu Scanlon, Zeny Seid, and Rose Tokugawa.
Seven musicians and artists from Friends of Children With Special Needs (FCSN), a 16 year old community based non profit organization, will be visiting Beijing, China for a joint concert and and exhibition with, meeting with other and on a TV program “Enhance the Dream”, to bring awareness of autism to the people of China. The resulting joint Sino-US concert on April 8 at the Youth Cultural Arts Palace in Beijing.will hopefully bring courage to families with autistic children in China. View the FCSN Dream Seekers Band http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh1hVOaOCFU.
A true star as a leader in Chinatown Merchants Association was Mrs. May Louie, who passed away suddenly last month. Her business acumen and philanthropy in the San Francisco Chinese community will never be forgotten and she will be sorely missed for her cheerful smile and generous spirit by her fellow members in the Opti-Ms Club. A stirring memorial service in her honor took place at the Chinatown St. Mary’s Cathedral followed by a luncheon attended by over 200 friends and family.