JOY LUCK CLUB SEQUEL - 25 YEARS LATER

During the 25th Anniversary screening of “The Joy Luck Club” at the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) last week, it was announced that a sequel may be in the future for the successful Amy Tan penned novel turned film.

Producer Ronald Bass told Entertainment Tonight that there is a script for both a TV series and a film sequel being circulated around Hollywood right now. Bass states, “both the series or sequel, if they happen, will be the same cast 25 years later…in other words, the mothers are now grandmothers. The daughters are no mothers and they each have a millennial daughter of their own. So, now it would be a three generation…what’s that like in mother-daughter relations? Today’s world versus first, second generations and immigrants.”

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After the recent successes of "Crazy Rich Asians" and "To All the Boys I've Loved Before", Hollywood has increased their interested in producing more projects starring APAs or telling the Asian and APA story; including ABC developing a new drama titled, "Ohana" which follows the lives of 4 hapa women, and Netflix's productions of "Wu Assasins," which will star Byron Mann, Mark Dacoscos and JuJu Chan, "Tigertail" - an upcoming drama directed and written by Alan Yang and starring John Cho, Christine Ko, Hayden Szeto and Tzi Ma, as well as "Always Be My Maybe" starring Ally Wong, Randall Park, Daniel Day Kim, and Keanu Reeves. 

ANOTHER CRAZY RICH WEEKEND FOR "CRAZY RICH ASIANS"

"Crazy Rich Asians" had another crazy rich weekend and is showing no signs of slowing down in theaters. The film topped the box office in the second week of release, and brought in an estimated $25 million dollars, just 6% shy from it’s opening week totals. The film has already generated over $75 million in North America and $85 million worldwide.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Crazy Rich Asians" “has opened better than any other comedy this year and any rom-com since 2015’s Trainwreck.” The film is also the first Hollywood movie in 25 years that includes an all Asian cast (since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club” based on Amy Tan’s novel of the same name). With all the success, it’s no surprise that a sequel based on Kevin Kwan’s second book, “China Rich Girlfriend” is already in the works.

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"Crazy Rich Asians" is based on the Kevin Kwan novel by the same name, the romantic comedy follows Asian American professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) who travel to Singapore for Nick’s best friend’s wedding. Unbeknownst to Rachel, Nick comes from an extremely wealthy family and is also considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Rachel is thrust into their crazy rich world complete with lies, jealousy and deceit all while trying to navigate her own life, finding her true self and where she fits in.

With very few eye-popping and buzzworthy films slated to be released this Labor Day weekend (Operation Finale, Kin), film critics are predicting that "Crazy Rich Asians" will most likely top the box office for a third weekend in a row.

 

World Premiere of "Diwa" at 21st Dances with Films

The award winning short, “Diwa” will make a world premiere at the 21st Dances with Films screening on Saturday, June 9th at 5pm, at the historic TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood. Dances with Films is an annual Academy Awards qualifying festival.

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Filipina actress and filmmaker Aina Dumlao stars in the award winning short film, Diwa which centers around a young undocumented immigrant by the same name. Diwa comes to America in search of a better life and to help her family in the Philippines, the most popular way, sending money back home.

As is most often the case, life isn’t always greener on the other side and Diwa faces the harsh reality of living in America as an immigrant who becomes exploited by her employer and then falls victim to a broken immigration system.

Aina Dumlao as Diwa

Aina Dumlao as Diwa

Aina Dumlao and her business partner (Undercurrent Films) and husband, Bru Muller both share directing, writing and producing credits for this beautifully told film. Dumlao was initially inspired to write Diwa by her uncle who spent over 3 decades as an overseas worker and barely saw his own family. When his wife passes away from cancer, he is out at sea, working to pay for their mounting medical bills. Aina hopes that Diwa” will “give voice to the hopes, dreams and struggles of the millions of undocumented immigrants who come to America, desperate to carve out better lives for themselves and their loved ones.”

Aina Dumlao is compelling as Diwa. In the first three minutes of the film, without any dialogue, she transports you into Diwa’s heavily burdened life which is full of frustration, internal and external struggles and exhaustion. The cinematography beautifully captures the spirit of the film and the music was absolutely moving.

"Diwa" also stars Leslie Thurston, Maria Pallas, Seli M. Rose, Shaw Jones, Jeremy Andorfer-Lopez and Eddie Martinez.

You can show your support by attending the screening. For more information, you can head to www.mynameisdiwa.com

Check out my personal thoughts on the film here

Here's a look at the trailer:

Identity LA 2018 - ISA, Mike Shinoda, Jay Park, Cassey Ho, Jon M. Chu

For the past 3 years ISA (International Secret Agents) has hosted Identity LA to celebrate and commemorate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (formerly known as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month) and this year was another success for the team.

Presented by Los Angeles Councilmember David Ryu, the city of Los Angeles, Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation and ISA (founded by Wong Fu Productions and Far East Movement), the event showcased vendors from the AAPI community showcasing their unique products, a vast array of food trucks curated by Roy Choi which included The Boba Truck, BB Kyu, Belly Bombz, Chinese Laundry, Pho King Awesome, and Seoul Sausage as well as serving a platform for local artists to showcase their work.

The performances at Identity LA 2018 was definitely the high point of the festival which featured Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander artists. Filipina rapper Ruby Ibarra shined with her expressive and sharp-witted lyrics that touched upon her ethnicity and female empowerment. She wowed the crowd with her high energy performance and her effortless skills in rapping seamlessly from English to Filipino dialects. Ibarra also took the time to stress the significance of the festival stating, “I think it’s definitely important for us to have spaces like this, that allow a platform for artists such as myself to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.” 

Other notable performances included Hotel Garuda, North Carolina rapper G Yamazawa, The Kinjaz, DJ Zo, and The Flavr Blue. Multi-platinum Korean American rapper, singer, and dancer Jay Park got the crowd dancing and singing along to his hits, and also invited Korean singer-songwriter Hoody to share the stage with him.  Hoody, who is signed under Park’s record label, AOMG showed off her sexy and sultry vocal skills during her own solo set right before Jay Park hit the stage.

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One of the highlights of Identity LA was headliner Mike Shinoda’s performance. Shinoda, who performed earlier in the day at KROQ’s Weenie Roast, sang familiar Linkin Park tunes and took a moment to give a touching tribute to his former band mate and close friend Chester Bennington. Shinoda also surprised the crowd by bringing along a couple of guests to share the stage with him, including fellow band member Joe Hahn for their song “Castle Rock” and Japanese singer Taka of ONE OK ROCK to sing Shinoda’s Fort Minor hit single, “Where’d You Go”.

Identity LA 2018 also took the time to recognize AAPIs who have made huge contributions in the community. This year’s honorees were the Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement ,a non-profit organization whose mission is to “cultivate healthy, long-lasting and vibrant Asian and Pacific Islander communities through grassroots organizing.” Activist, artist and the creator of “The Pussyhat Project” Kristah Suh received the Activism award. The Digital Pioneer award was presented to fitness entrepreneur Cassey Ho, founder and creator of oGorgeous and Blogilates. Grammy winner and member of "The Stereotypes" Jonathan Yip was honored with the Musical Pioneer award and Director Jon M. Chu was presented with the Arts & Entertainment honor. Chu’s film directing credits include Now You See Me 2, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, and the upcoming and highly anticipated film, Crazy Rich Asians. During his acceptance speech, Jon M. Chu did not hesitate to invite the audience to show their support and watch Crazy Rich Asians when it hits theaters in August.

Identity LA 2018 was a free and public event sponsored by Comcast | NBC Universal and Private Internet Access.

See below for a recap of this year’s Identity LA and a special performance of “In the End” by Mike Shinoda and fans at the end of the video.

"Searching" Trailer starring John Cho

The trailer for the John Cho starring film, "Searching" has just been released.

The movie which also stars Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, and Michelle La follows Cho’s character, David Kim, whose 16 year old daughter goes missing. After 37 hours with not a single lead, David decides to takes matters in his own hands and searches the one place no one has searched and where everyone’s secrets are kept today; his daughter’s laptop.  

During the film’s Sundance screening, “Searching” received the Audience Award and was also picked up by Sony Pictures.

The film is expected to be released on August 3rd, 2018.  

NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL'S PACIFIC RIM SHOWCASE WILL SPOTLIGHT MOVIES FROM SOUTH KOREA, CHINA, JAPAN, THE PHILIPPINES, AND AUSTRALIA

 

The 19th Newport Beach Film Festival is taking place now until May 3rd with over 300 films being screened from 50 countries. The theme for this year’s event is See Who Made the Cut. 

One of the highlights for this year’s event is the Pacific Rim Showcase section of the festival which includes a spotlight of films from South Korea, China, Japan, the Philippines and Australia.  The Pacific Rim Showcase takes place on Monday April 30th throughout various theaters in Orange County. 

Here is a list of the films:

South Korea Spotlight - “A Day”

A skilled doctor witnesses a tragic car accident. While trying to help, he finds that his daughter is one of the dying victims. As the worst day of his life begins to repeat itself, he realizes he may have a chance at saving his daughter with the risk of someone else dying. He attempts to save them both but will have time working against him.

Starring Myung-min Kim, Yo-han Byun and Chea-myung You

Directed by Cho Sun-ho, Written by Cho Sun-ho, Lee Sang-hak

Korean with English subtitles

The Philippines Spotlight - “Ulam: Main Dish”

This documentary follows the rise of the Filipino food movement and includes interviews with chefs who are crossing over to the center of the American table. The film confronts issues inherent in representing both Filipino and American identity, and challenges from both the Filipino community and the world at large. Featuring appearances by Alvin Cailan (Eggslut), Jon Eric Concordia and Christine Araquel-Concordia (The Park’s Finest), Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad (Maharlika, Jeepney), Romy Dorotan & Amy Besa (Purple Yam), Charles Olalia (Ricebar) Chase and Chad Valencia (LASA) and Andre Guerrero (The Oinkster, Maximiliano).

Q&A with Director Alexandra Cuerdo and Producer Rey Cuerdo

China Spotlight “End of Summer”

A timid fifth grader, an orthodox middle-aged teacher and a grumpy old man experience their first awakening to true self during the 1998 World Cup in China.

Cast includes Pao-Ming Ku, Songwen Zhang, Qing Dong, Zishan Rong, Zhou Tan

Directed by Quan Zhou, written by Maya Huang & Quan Zhou

 

Japan Spotlight - “3 Ft. Ball and Souls” (Sanjakudama)

Four troubled strangers who meet online decide to commit suicide together in person. However, a Ground Hog Day type event forces these strangers to open up and confide in each other in order to resolve some of their various issues.

Stars Honoka Murakami, Minehiro Kinomoto, Shinobu Tsuji, Kanji Tsuda

Directed/Produced/Written by Yoshio Kato

Japanese with English Subtitles

Australia Spotlight - “The Pretend One”

A young woman’s childhood imaginary friend, Hugo, is in love with her.  However, Hugo realizes that his existence is threatened when a real person becomes the woman’s love interest.

Q&A with filmmakers and actors after the screening

Directed by Tony Prescott, Screenwriter Tony Prescott, James Raue

Stars Geraldine Hakewill, Michael Whalley, Benedict Wall

The Pacific Rim Showcase takes place on Monday April 30th throughout various theaters in Orange County.  For more information and to purchase tickets to the festival, visit www.newportbeachfilmfest.com

JON CHU'S "CRAZY RICH ASIANS" TRAILER RELEASE

Trailers for the highly anticipated film, Crazy Rich Asians have just been released.

Based on the Kevin Kwan novel by the same name, Crazy Rich Asians follows 2 NYU professors; the dashing and exceptionally wealthy Nick Young and his economics professor girlfriend Rachel Chu.  Nick however, has kept his family fortune and background a secret to his friends in New York, including his girlfriend.  It isn’t until the two travel to Singapore for Nick’s best friends’ wedding, “the biggest wedding of the year” that Rachel realizes Nick’s family is one of the top ten wealthiest in Asia. Their relationship is put to the test when lies, deceit, family drama and a deep and mysterious past all come to light. 

Actors Henry Golding who plays Nick Young and Constance Wu, who plays Rachel Wu lead the Asian Cast. Other stars in the film include legendary actress and action star Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), comedian Ken Jeong (ABC’s Dr. Ken, Hangover Triology, NBC’s Community), Harry Shum Jr. ( Fox’s Glee), British actress and model Gemma Chan (AMC’s Humans, Transformers: The Last Knight) and Nico Santos (NBC’s Superstore).

According to Warner Bros, Crazy Rich Asians is the first Hollywood studio backed film that is directed by an Asian American and stars an all-Asian cast in 25 years, since The Joy Luck Club. The Jon Chu directed movie is expected to hit theaters August 17th.