Class of 97: Asian American New Wave Panel at AAIFF

Evidently the Class of 97 Panel: The Asian American New Wave panel happened because of an article penned by Peter X Feng called "The State of Asian American Cinema." It was published in Cineaste Magazine CINEASTE, 24(4), 1999, pp. 20-24). It's not readable online unfortunately, but it was republished in the catalog for this film festival (AAIFF 2017). I hardly remember the article today, but I'd like to give Feng a much belated thanks for writing it and being a big part of why this panel happened. Wherever you may be, I wish you were there with us on Saturday. Thanks to John Woo as well who’s been part of the fest for a while and who was instrumental in bringing us together.

The talk itself was a look back about the times, our projects, where it went, and a few stories. It was a great way to catch up with my old colleagues and our projects brought us together once more - now 20 years later and in NYC. I never thought I’d be on the other side of a panel like this. We might look and feel different, but thankfully we’re just about the same with a few new life hurdles and changes. We were sans Justin Lin, the co-director of Shopping for Fangs and now a huge Hollywood director. We hardly heard his name this weekend and I assume he was too busy to attend. We’d all wish him the best.

That still begs the question: is the last time Sunsets will show? Will the 25 or 30 year mark bring us together?

Chris Chan Lee recently produced a film called Jasmine and edits video, Quentin Lee still makes films and has his hands in too many projects, Rea Tajiri is tenured at Temple University and still makes docs and art, John Carson Woo is from Asian CineVision, Michael Aki is my cousin who seems to a love hate relationship with the filmmaking scene, but loves cinema and is embroiled in projects. That’s leave me, Eric Nakamura, bullshitter at-large with nothing extra to report. Also great thanks to Judy Lei, Haisong Li, and the staff at Asian CineVision and the Asia Society.

We did tackle a project in 98 or 99 called Obits. It was an omnibus including all of us with some serious and some goofy projects. Gladly, you can’t see this. Yet if there were another project… which was brought up during our later evening hangout, I’d gladly take part.

So what was the impact of our films in 1997? Did more films get made? Did we inspire some to tell “our” stories? We can’t know, but at this point the kids could be inspired by three generations of filmmakers after us.

In between the panel and diner, we went to eat in Little Italy like tourists. The food was quite great. 

That's Jeff Adachi, who's a SF Public Defender.