One of the best things about working on Giant Robot magazine during its 16-year run was providing a showcase for rad work by talented friends. This weekend I get to do it in a different setting–a film festival. With the encouragement of FAAIM director Tim Hugh, I put together Animal Style. The first part collects indie skate videos by Asian Americans, while the second section cherry picks pieces from Asia itself.
I was introduced to Nigel Ong when the Animal Style program was practically finished, and was only able to squeeze in one of his latest shorts. But he really deserves his own film festival. That’s I.T. (2006) not only documents one of Hong Kong’s much-loved and missed spots, but pretty much maps out the territory’s entire scene–not to mention visiting rippers including Kien Lieu, Koston, Janowsky… Yet Nigel is no scenester; his follow-up work, Skate First (2009), showed Chinese groms how to rip and his latest work, Skateboarding Is Love (2010), is 100 percent local without the locals-only vibe.
Sometime last year, an artful and amazing indie skate short was rejected by the International Skateboard Film Festival. My friends who made it were philosophical, but I was pissed. What was the point of calling for–and charging for–entries to such an event if it was just going to screen industry-backed skate vids (which receive big-budget premieres anyway)?
So I was motivated to hit up my friend Tim, who programs the Asian American Showcase for FAAIM in Chicago. He liked the piece a lot, and suggested that I assemble an entire program of skate videos. I thought about it and realized that I had other friends with works that had not been seen, realized, or shown in the U.S. This was a good opportunity to help get their work out.
After months of correspondence/hounding via email, the lineup has been finalized and the screenings will take place on Saturday, April 14 at the Gene Siskel Center. Tim asked me to summarize the films for festival purposes, and I thought I’d share them with you, too. What do you think? Any chance we’ll meet in Chicago? Got a screen where you’d like to show it? Let me know!