Why do "Chinese people hate Christians?" Is it possible to rejuvenate a musical career at age 94? Can a few angry Asian immigrants change the cycle of exploitation?
Opening on April 28, Visual Communications' 21st Asian Pacific Film Festival continues to provide a provocative program of foreign and domestic films. This year, three documentaries explore contemporary Asian American culture in Los Angeles.
On May 1, 5 p.m. at the Directors Guild of America, Curtis Choy's 99-minute "What's Wrong with Frank Chin?" dares to ask what makes the infamous Los Angeles-based writer, director, playwright, teacher and civil rights activist so angry? Chin is known for making brazen generalizations, like declaring Chinese people hate Christians because of the Opium Wars. As a firebrand of righteousness, he jump-stated theater groups, two Asian American literary anthologies and the Japanese American reparations movement, yet his dominating personality, often strident dramatics and his long-standing sniping at Maxine Hong Kingston have also divided the Asian American community. Choy's documentary suffers from some poor productions values and the involvement of writers that Chin has openly criticized. Still, Chin is important enough that even this flawed documentary is a must-see for those wishing to understand Asian American literature and history.
S. Leo Chiang and Mercedes Coats' documentary, "To You Sweetheart, Aloha," explores an unusual relationship between music and love on May 1, 2 p.m. at DGA. The Hawai'ian-born master of the ukulele Bill Tapia was once a well-known figure in his home state. Yet in his 94th year, living in the Los Angeles area and having recently lost both his wife and his only child, a daughter, Tapia is brought out of his depression by 26-year-old Alyssa Archambault, who becomes his muse and his manager. Yet this relationship comes under scrutiny by this family. We don't really know that much about Archambault since the film mostly focuses on his family's feelings, but this portrait aptly catches the problems of old age and the renaissance of a man's musical career.