HBO Asian American short film series tackles nuanced cultural issues

Article Source: NBC News
Original Post Date: September 25, 2020

"Lonely Blue Night" is a portrait of a Chinese family in which the consequences of a mother's decision to leave her daughter in the care of an American homestay family are slowly unearthed when they reunite for a family/business dinner on one lonely blue night.
“Lonely Blue Night” is a portrait of a Chinese family in which the consequences of a mother’s decision to leave her daughter in the care of an American homestay family are slowly unearthed when they reunite for a family/business dinner on one lonely blue night. HBO APA Visionaries 2020

HBO’s Asian Pacific American Visionaries winners will premiere their work on Sept. 25 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET as part of the virtual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The three short films will be available to stream on HBO’s website.

The winning pictures from APA creators — “Si” by Thomas Percy Kim, Tiffany So’s “Fine China” and “Lonely Blue Night” from Johnson Cheng — exemplify this year’s competition theme of breaking barriers and focusing on the challenges and victories specific to their communities.

In “Lonely Blue Night,” a 15-minute short narrated in Mandarin, a Chinese mother learns the consequences of leaving her child in the care of an American homestay family. After a send-off dinner with both families, the mother and daughter reconnect through a karaoke session.

“Si” follows a Korean American adoptee who navigates his Korean, Asian American identities in his predominantly white baseball team. Through nuanced conversations with his teammates on the field, the teenage boy grapples with anti-Asian microaggressions, while feeling conflicted by his own efforts to fit in with his peers.

In So’s musical short, “Fine China,” Lily finds herself in a never-ending dinner, where music and performance are used to amplify the lack of verbal communication at home. Over the course of the meal, the Chinese American family’s miscommunication erodes their relationship, forcing Lily to express her feelings through movement.

Established in 2016, HBO APA Visionaries is a short film competition sponsored by HBO to provide emerging filmmakers of Asian and/or Pacific Islander descent the opportunity to showcase their work. The honorees are selected among hundreds of submissions, judged by a panel of APA filmmakers, industry leaders and HBO executives.