Son of Animal Style at SDAFF Recap

My curated program of skate shorts had its third and final showing at the San Diego Asian Film Festival on Saturday afternoon, and it still hasn’t gotten old. Having skateboarding-related or -inspired videos made by friends alongside indie flicks like Daylight Savings and old-school kung-fu classics like Five Fingers of Death is not only cool but important. It puts a niche genre into a larger context, and hopefully exposes skate video junkies to other forms of moving pictures while turning on film festival folks to the energy and aesthetics of skateboarding. (Above, left to right: Me, Wing Ko, Tad Suzuki, Eric Matthies, Ben Clark, Willy Santos.)

I introduced this particular screening by addressing the underlying connections between the pieces. Of course, there are a lot of crossover credits between “The Working Man,” “Perfect Time,” and The Brotherhood: Chicago, but I didn’t purposely place Alva vets Jesse Neuhaus and Stevie Dread alongside past team members Mario Rubalcaba (“Wide Angle Sounds”) and Jef Hartsel (cameo in “Sampler”). It just happened that way. And who knew that Ray Barbee (“Traveling Sounds”) was on the team for just a second? It’s this overlapping of cities, scenes, and friends that made the recent loss of Reggie Destin especially painful. The veteran contributor to the nationwide skate scene introduced himself to me at the Chicago screening, and he was hit while skating by drunk driver shortly before the Honolulu showing. On the heels of his funeral services, we dedicated San Diego to him, recalling the ability that one individual can have to affect so many circles of skaters across the country. (Above, me with Wing Ko and Ray Barbee, Willy Santos and Tad Suzuki.)

The screening itself was a lot of fun, with many contributors finally being able to attend since it was driving distance from L.A. and Orange County. Featured skaters Ray Barbee (above, center) and Willy Santos (above, center right, “Jo Koy vs. Willy Satos”) appeared, and filmmakers Eric Matthies, Ben Clark, and Langdon Taguiped made the trip. So did soundtrack scorers Carlos De La Garza and Chin Yi, editor Eric Pritchard, and many others. Too many to list. Huge thanks and props to Brian Hu and Lee Ann Kim for allowing us to share this marginalized genre alongside so many rad films. The projection could have been better but the PMA was present in full force, as was a great crowd.

Later that evening, Wendy and I attended the SDAFF gala. Not a cheap ticket, but as a juror as well as a curator I was invited as a guest. It was a tightly, highly entertaining, and quite formal affair with a red carpet and nonstop entertainment. Right away, Wendy and I spotted the National Film Society guys interview George Takei when we were looking up our seating. And I had never attended a  live auction before, but I was mesmerizing by it. I want to hire the fast talker if we ever have a garage sale. Daylight Savings co-stars Goh Nakamura and Yea-Ming Chen played a short set, too.

For me, one of the best things about attending film festivals is seeing like-minded friends such as Goh, who are into indie, imported and cool movies and culture in general. And meeting new ones like Dreamdate’s Yea-Ming. Business guru Gary Chou (below, top left) barely made it out from New York with Hurricane Sandy going on. Meanwhile, National Film Society’s Patrick Epino (below, top right) and actress/singer Jacqueline Kim (below, bottom left) are L.A. folks that I always bump into at film-fest type things. As for film fest kahuna Anderson Le (below, bottom middle), he travels so much that you have to go to the festivals to ever see him.

Go skate! Support film festivals! Have fun, be active about culture, and please take a second to say hi. The thirteenth annual SDAFF continues through Friday with chances to see Flying Swords of Dragon Gate on Tuesday and Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection on Wednesday. Rad!