“The 30th Annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival presented by theCenter 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 filmAMONG B-BOYS directed and produced byChristopher 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.”