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.
Animal Style wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Tad Suzuki and Thy Mai. It was after I sent their first film short to my friend Tim Hugh, who runs FAAIM’s Asian American Showcase in Chicago, that he suggested I curate an entire skate video program. And now their noir-inspired “The Working Man” and hyper-colored “Perfect Time” will kick off the bill on April 14.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting and interviewing a lot of top-shelf skaters for the pages of Giant Robot: Don Nguyen, Daewon Song, Kenny Anderson, Eric Koston, Shogo Kubo, Steve Caballero, Willy Santos, Peggy Oki, Richard Mulder, Kien Lieu, Chad Tim Tim, Jamie Reyes, Daniel Castillo, Pat Channita, Jimmy Cao, Lincoln Ueda… (I know there are more and if I forgot you, I’m sorry.) Truthfully, the topic was probably lost on many readers but hopefully the culture wasn’t. Streetwear, street art, and even punk rock–so much of that stems from skateboarding and no one should forget that.