Asian Festival Spring Showcase
Written and Photographed by: Natacia Manibusan
The San Diego Asian Festival Spring Showcase made me emotional and I am only 3 days in. Granted, I have not watched them all yet, but what I have seen so far is a good indication that we the audience, are in for some very good films.
Directed by, Tony Vainuku and Co-Directed and Produced by Erika Cohn
I attended opening night to see the Documentary, “In Football We Trust”. The truth is I was never a Football fan even though Dad tried to teach me, his only child, about it. He even attempted to take me to a Chargers game which was a huge waste of time and I think it disappointed him. We bonded over WWE or WWF if you grew up in the 80’s so I guess he figured we would have this in common too. Not so much. I do enjoy stories about athletes though. In my 20’s I read an Autobiography, “The Rock says…” written by Wrestler turned Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I had discovered in his book he was a former football player and of Samoan descent. Polynesian athletes, namely Samoan’s, are the focus of this Documentary. During the audience Q and A, the Director told us he received a phone call of support by Mr. “The Rock” (my reference, not his) stating he wanted to be involved in the promotion of the film.
While I won’t be at anymore Chargers games watching grown men run back and forth on the grass wearing colored tights, I do have a new found respect for the athletes thanks to this film. I realize there is so much more to Football than a replica of an inflated pig’s bladder being chased by men who could lift and throw my car if they wanted to. “In Football We Trust” is a film about heart and for the duration of the film, it touched mine.
The film follows four teenage Polynesian Football Players whose families are very close and do what they can to help their sons move on to college with the hopes of making it to the NFL. Obstacles like neighborhood gangs and affiliations through family members do not help the overall situation nor do some of the questionable friendship choices (one scene we saw will be cut from the film due to colorful language). Church is very important to the family and their community support is obviously needed throughout various situations. The Church scenes become a welcome break from some of the more dramatic moments that happen, sort of like catching your breath after running. Imagine going through High School with all your experiences plus having the pressure to make it or your family suffers financial hardships. Now imagine your Mother at every game wearing a tutu with blue writing on her face, getting fans to cheer for the team. I loved Harvey’s Mother in this. She was my favorite.
To the Islanders of Guamanian descent reading this: Hafa adai todu mauleg!
Tiaina Seau Junior Seaus’s father
“Margarita, with a Straw”
Directed by Shonali Bose
There are not many films that move me to the point where I find it difficult to compose myself by the end of the credits. After watching the film, “Margarita, with a Straw” I struggled for over two hours. I’m not usually that sappy but whatever, in that moment I was a chick.
The book, “One Little Finger” written by Disability Rights Activist Malini Chib, was the creative inspiration for the film which was Directed by Malini’s Cousin, Shonali Bose. Malini has Cerebral Palsy and after reading her blog it is clear she is a woman with strong opinions and is not afraid to share them, and for good reason. She is a role model and in 2001, the Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment gave her an award for being one.
When I saw the trailer, I knew the film would be worth seeing but I wasn’t prepared for the impression it left or the feelings it would bring up. It was such a refreshing change to see a film hit us with a heavy dose of reality like this one does. Yes, she has obstacles and at times it is difficult to watch. Ladies, bring Kleenex. In one humorous scene, that could happen to anyone who is challenged in the Culinary Arts she is cracking an egg and fails at first. This would normally warrant a sympathetic, “awe” but in this context, she laughs at herself and invites us to as well. Actress, Kalki Koechlin’s performance is really quite impressive. Pay attention to her subtle facial expressions. We get a glimpse into many facets of this characters life but the overall tone of the film is living life to the fullest. A lot of reviews I read after seeing it discuss one aspect of the film and while it is important not to ignore and you really can’t because it becomes the focus for a majority of the film (I am keeping it vague to discover on your own), I related to the timing in the story for when New York appears and towards the end of the film with family. New York is the perfect place to forget about heartache because it is full of distractions and possibilities. If New York were a person, she’d be the life of the party in the shortest skirt taking you to all the clubs but you would need to bring cab fare because you know she’s going home with a guy at the end of the night. That’s just how she is.
As for the festival overall, this year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and will be given a tribute for the events that happened on April 30th, 1975. In a series of works called, “Cinema Little Saigon.” City Heights will be mentioned in a retrospective.
San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase tickets are available through:
Information on films for the main festival, November 6-15, 2015 may be found on: