The best thing about editing Giant Robot magazine was being able to share the rad things that friends do. And make new friends that do rad things. That’s how I feel about my first sizable “solo” project, assembling (and sometimes even participating in) excellent shorts that friends have created and then complementing them with works by new friends. So while the Animal Style (Chicago) and Son of Animal Style (Honolulu, San Diego) skate video programs have given my crew an outlet for their hard work, they have provided me with fodder to keep engaged, keep pushing culture.
And is there a better place to do it than the Hawaii International Film Festival? No other fest balances East and West, high and low, or big budget and indie like HIFF. And while it makes sense for the latest iteration of the Animal Style program to show alongside the long-awaited Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, it’s even cooler that it is on the same roster as Cloud Atlas, Tai Chi 0, and The King of Pigs. It puts skateboard movies in the same conversation as “real” cinema. And with guys like Spike Jonze, Mike Mills, Jason Lee, and even Sam Lee coming from the world of skateboarding, why not?
I’ve attended a lot of film festivals over the years. And through Giant Robot magazine, I’ve had the pleasure of introducing features by friends (Harry Kim and David Choe’s Dirty Hands) as well as conducting Q&As afterward (Stephen Chow for CJ7). But Animal Style for FAAIM’s Asian American Showcase was the first program that I’ve ever curated. Yes, it totally ruled. Thanks to connections with the mighty Uprise skate shop, the sold-out slot drew old-school and new-jack skaters from all over Chicago to see Wing Ko’s documentary about the first generation of Second City skaters, which took two decades to complete. Wing shot much of the early footage while attending film school in his hometown before moving to L.A. and working on key skate videos for Girl, the legendary Rodney vs. Daewon series, and the underrated ON Video magazine and then moving on to academic subjects. The Brotherhood: Chicago is Wing’s return not only to skateboarding but his roots, and the three subjects–Jesse Neuhaus, Stevie Dread, Eric Murphy–were in attendance. To help my good friend’s project premiere in the Windy City was very special to me, and warm feelings were everywhere. After a shit-talking-and-loving Q&A, the lobby was packed with Chicago’s hardest-core rippers who didn’t want the afternoon to end.
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!