Sunday, March 28, 2010

UPDATE: Lyrical Empire screening date!

Sunday, MAY 2
1:30 PM
Laemmle SUNSET 5
8000 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, 90046


TRT: 102 min.
Let's fly. This versatile collection of gems shed light on artists, business folk and everyday people who rise far above cultural and societal barriers. Coast through different parts of the world and learn about what exactly makes these individuals heroes on this place
called earth.
*Rochelle Lozada

(United States, 2009) Dir.: Mikiko Sasaki
Michiko Nakamura, 28, is one of a few businesswomen in Morioka City, a suburb located 300 miles North of Tokyo. She owns Realtor ALIVE, and her business has been slowly but steadily growing. With no female role model in her town, Michiko finds her way to survive in the business by learning how the 'man's world' works. She is given an opportunity to become the first female mentor to teach a series of workshops at a local business conference, where she is challenged to assimilate into the male-dominated Japanese business world, where sexism is still the norm.
Video, 21 min., color, documentary, in Japanese w/ E.S.


(United States, 2009) Dir.: Chuck Byun
1st. Lt. Dan Choi, an Iraq combat veteran and Arabic linguist, came out of the closet on national television in March 2009. He was discharged a month later. Since then, he has become a prominent activist in the fight to overturn the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. This short film documents a day in the life of a man who has been described as the face of a movement.
Video, 7 min., color, documentary


(United States, 2009) Dir.: Emi Takeda
A meditation on the possibility of compatibility between a Brazilian woman and her Japanese grandfather.
Video, 15 min., color, documentary


(United States, 2009) Dir.: Tracy Rector
In March 2009, Pacific Northwest artist and activist Louie Gong began merging Native Coast Salish art with pop culture icon Vans, to create custom skate shoes representing the complexities of multiracial cultural identity, something he refers to as, walking in two worlds.
Video, 14 min., color, documentary

(United States, 2010) Dir.: Mark Villegas
Take a glimpse into the lives of hip hop artists from Metro Manila, in a country where hip hop culture is under constant scrutiny from a skeptical public. What will it take for these artists to prove their skills? Will hip hop become big in the Philippines or will it be forever discarded as 'jologs,' underclass, and uncultured? These hardworking hip hop heads show you the passion and style they bring to the game where lyrical boundaries blur and innovation is prized.
Video, 20 min., color, documentary


(Cambodia, 2010) Dir.: Cynthia Wade
Despite being only fifteen years old, Vinh Voeurn has accepted his destiny - to be sick for the rest of life with incurable arsenic poisoning. He longs to fall in love with a girl with long, smooth hair. He fantasizes about becoming a karaoke star, winning the affections of adoring fans. But his body is terribly scarred by illness and there is a good chance the arsenic will soon take his life
like the girl who once lived across the road. Vinh spends his days in his remote Cambodian village tending the cows and escaping into song with his family's car battery powered karaoke machine. He worries he will never marry and live the life he wants for himself. A chance to be in a karaoke video about the dangers of arsenic allows Vinh to wonder if he truly knows his destiny.
Video, 25 min., color, documentary


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Manny in the Lone Star: is this the last fight?

This Saturday is the big (not really) bout between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey at Texas Stadium. A big disappointment because I'm sure we were all hoping for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. Perhaps some of you witnessed occasions of racially-tinged smack-talk when the Pacquiao-Mayweather match was in negotiations. And even though you may be the most critical person when it comes to assumptions of racial categorization, the Asian body of Pacquiao and the Black body of Mayweather still lingered in your mind as to the impact of physicality in this historic match. If you are in denial, you probably heard it from others.

In the Times Magazine yesterday, the question was posed whether the Pacquiao-Clottey and Mayweather-Mosley fights were simply precursors to a bigger Pacquiao-Mayweather bout. "Pacquiao and Mayweather: One More Until the Big One?" the author asks. The author writes:

"Pacquiao's camp says the boxer refused the blood testing because he is superstitious and doesn't want to give blood so close to fight time. He was blood-tested a couple of days before his fight with Erik Morales, and lost. "It made me weak," says Pacquiao, who is suing Mayweather for sullying his reputation. There is speculation in some boxing gyms that Mayweather knew about Pacquiao's aversion to pre-fight blood testing and used it as a tactic to duck him."

What's with all the slander and courtroom drama? Enough of the soap opera. But then again, the more drama, the more dollas. I say this "bad" publicity makes for great boxing, at least within the marketplace of entertainment.

So for now, we send good vibes to Manny this Saturday. Clottey, who is from Ghana, may help dampen the racially-tinged flames that inform the skepticism of the physical capacities of either Manny or Mayweather. If Manny wins against Clottey, perhaps Clottey will be seen as a "buffer" to the racial skepticism and prepare the way for a bigger and more measured Pacquiao-Mayweather match. It sucks that we have to always see boxers in terms of race, but that's the way it has always been in boxing (and all of sports) history...especially when boxing focuses so much on the fighter's height, weight, arm-length, muscular boxing, the male body is a spectacle. Even Clottey's was described as having a "muscled body of a boa constrictor" by the Times writer. (On second thought, that metaphor doesn't make sense because snakes don't have defined muscle-groups like mammals, do they? Or does Clottey have a tube-like, snake-like physique?)

I was interviewed by Inquirer reporter Benjamin Pimentel about the race-talk happening when the Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations were under way a few months ago, especially when Manny's mom utterance of a variation of the "N-word," which is layered with translation problems. Here is a snippet below. I think the article demonstrates the precariousness of Filipino and Black concord, but also mentions the possibilities of community-building between the two groups.


Pacquiao versus Mayweather in black & brown

by Benjamin Pimentel

CALIFORNIA, United States—It’s unclear if the showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will ever happen. But there are signs that what could be boxing’s biggest bout in recent history could highlight tensions around an important issue: race. A preview came in the form of controversy over Dionisia Pacquiao’s remarks after Manny’s victory over Miguel Cotto.

Mommy Dionisia clearly did not mean any harm when, in thanking her son’s fans, she referred to “mga Amerikano at mga Negro,” which according to columnist Recah Trinidad and other reports, somehow got translated as “Americans and niggers.”

The translator got it wrong, obviously, although it’s not clear if it was intentional, or was an honest error.

Clearly, the stakes would be high in a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout. It would pit a well-known, undefeated African American fighter against arguably the greatest Asian boxer in history, who is also now being ranked among the best in the world...

Mark Villegas, a Filipino American academic and filmmaker based in southern California, who is working on a documentary on the Filipino and Filipino American hip-hop scene, sees the potential for trouble...


Friday, March 5, 2010

March 6 Anniversaries

Protesting the dismal representation of blacks on UC Irvine campus

I haven't had time to write too much lately. With all these protests (and here) and other actions (see earlier post) happening with the University of California system and the state of education in general, and almost dying on the 405 (overheated engine), life's been interesting!

Francis M. living a happy battle

But otherwise, March 6 marks an important day. Not only is today the anniversary of Francis M.'s passing, it marks the time that I met the good folks in Metro Manila through the magic of the interwebs. In a strange, sad, but fortunate way, Francis M.'s death and the traffic in the blogosphere related to it linked me with a whole scene in the Philippines. From building with B-Roc at Soulfiesta, to dialoging with other artists on myspace, finding SoulsonicTV, having the privilege to honor Francis M. at Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture with MastaPlann (after bootcamp Francis M. lessons), DLing Back to the New School (knocked me off my ass), linking up with Jerome B. Smooth in Manila (via A.J. Calomay, thanks homey), interviewing artists from Las Pinas to Mandaluyong (to Northridge!), breakin with heads at The Empire Club, linking more Fil Ams with these same heads (good lookin out Leo!), oh the list goes on!

Graphic by Millc

All this has culminated to the creation of my short documentary on independent hip hop artists in the Philippines entitled Lyrical Empire: Hip Hop in Metro Manila, which I'm happy to announce is premiering at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in May (exact dates TBA). I truly hope that Fil Ams support this production, as this is mainly for us. Represent!

So in honor of March 6, peep Soulfiesta's reflection on this anniversary, and let's continue educating ourselves about the King of Pinoy Rap and his legacy...

"Radio is killin true OPM when
they wouldn't give Francis M promotion then
and just cause he's dead, over that weekend
they started playing his songs in all stations
a cold statement, but the truth must dent
you gotta pay your rent, and there's money in death
your ratings rose, hiphops making the news
its the type of hype that some will abuse
cause while we were mourning, while we was hurting
somebody wanted to shoot a video for him
I mean, great! you did a song for him before he died
how do you really think he feels inside
sure you spoke, sure you text and kept you inspired
but let the family grieve his death for awhile
before you get your shine on, tv, radio grind on
we burying our king, good reason we turn our mics off
continue reading...