Everything we can think of (and some things we'd rather not) about love finds a home in these four honest shorts.
By LiAnn Ishizuka
Love is in the air. And it's deeper than your average lovey-dovey teenage infatuation. Amateur directors present their shorts exploring the generation gap between an older woman and younger man, the infidelity in a marriage on the brink of collapse, the innocence of first crushes, and the complexities of interracial relationships.
Dir. Sofia Shinas, Scr.: Mike Fu
For the middle-aged Minsan (Jude Narita), youthful days are over. According to her father, she will never marry, and the pessimism overcomes her. But as fate would have it, a young aspiring musician (Sebastian Siegel) moves in next door. Minsan offers the new tenant a "home cooked meal" since he is living without gas, and dinner turns into something more. When Minsan awakes from bed, she marks her new beginning by replacing the old vase and dying flowers with new ones. Director Sofia Shinas' thesis film Spring Eternal not only reverses the norm of older men dating younger women, but celebrates it.
Dance of a Modern Marriage
Dir./Scr.: Ellery Ngiam
In the rules of attraction, it gets physical. Distant husband and father Paul (Rodney Oliveiro) tricks his wife Vanessa (Debra Teng) to an orgy party in hopes of reigniting the sexual flame in their marriage. Half-nude scenes aside, Singaporean TV director Ellery Ngiam's Dance of a Modern Marriage comments on the subjective definition of what marriage means to the contemporary, urban generation. Affairs and encounters that make for empty feelings characterize Paul and Vanessa's need to search for what they lost. It is through these encounters that both realize their love is genuine. Ngiam also weaves in melancholy dance performances from a geisha, who like Vanessa and Paul, experiences the multiplicity of partners but is left unsatisfied.
My First Crush
Dir./Scr.: Rocky Jo
Rocky Jo reminds us that you don't have to reach puberty to know what love feels like. Mistaking the short for a music video is easy because Jo's inspiration comes from a pop love song. In My First Crush, cute Hyori (Megan Lee) can't decide which glitter pen to use to finish her comic illustration -- she decides on red, but the comic still looks lonely, so she draws in a boyfriend. When mom calls Hyori for dinner, a handsome family friend (Max Phyo) is at the door and it's love at first sight. The family friend takes Hyori out for shopping and ice cream, fulfilling Hyroi's every fantasy of being on a "date." But at the next family dinner, Hyori is heartbroken to see that the family friend has brought a fiancé. Happiness returns when the fiancé presents Hyori with a new set of red glitter pens. Jo captures the butterflies and heartbreak we feel with every crush and delicately overlaps the romantic music to steer the film in these highs and lows. My First Crush is a 180 degree turn from Jo's action flick Bunny & Cyclo, which played at VC in 2006.
Akira's Hip Hop Shop
Dir./Scr.: Joe Doughrity
Hip-hop, as director Joe Doughrity puts it, unifies cultures. This is especially true in Doughrity's own affinity with Japanese and African American culture in this cross-cultural short Akira's Hip Hop Shop. Heroes star James Kyson Lee is Akira, who sells classic hip hop vinyl in his hole-in-the-wall record store. Akira, originally from Japan, moved to Los Angeles in hopes of doing what he always wanted and escape the monotony of business life back home. Love find its way into Akira's store when the stunning Daphne (Emayatzy E. Corinealdi), an African American culinary student, inquires about work. Akira is love-struck and offers her a job on the spot. Doughrity plays on all sensitivities in the film -- interracial relationships, cultural understanding (and misunderstanding), and the politics of family obligations half a world away. Propelling drama in the love plot, Akira's would-be fiancé, Kumi (Madoka), arrives in Los Angeles expecting to find Akira with open arms only to realize that Akira is in love with Daphne. As much as Lee tries with his fake goatee and diamond earring, his appearance is more of a front than believable Akira character; this cross-cultural attempt to make Akira urban seemed a bit forced. But more importantly was the message Doughrity attempts here: being true to yourself and who you love is all that matters. Akira's Hip Hop Shop is set to be expanded into a feature film.