Tuesday, June 28, 2005

SIFF diary, part 2

Saving Face

Saving Face is about a young Chinese/American surgeon, Wil (Michelle Krusiec) whose mother (Joan Chen) moves in after being exiled from her Chinese family and friends at a time when Wil falls in love with a ballerina (Lynn Chen). Saving Face is among the films showing at SIFF that has distribution and it opened in LA and New York on Friday.

Go see this film if you get a chance. It is delightful first film by director Alice Wu. She was in attendance and it turns out that she wrote the screenplay while taking a UW screenwriting course here in Seattle. After finishing the screenplay, she decided that it needed to be made into a film and that she must direct it so she moved to New York and gave herself five years to get the film made. She learned about editing and filmmaking and ended up getting help from Wil Smith to finance the film. It was fascinating listening to her speak and I was floored and the guts it must have taken to jet off to New York to make a movie with no real connections and that she got it made and it is good.

Story wise, Saving Face isn't particularly original. It consists of a love story and more than a little family drama and I saw most of the plot twists coming from a mile away. And it does give you the expected happy ending where everyone finds happiness, love, etc. But while working in a lot of romantic comedy cliches, it does cover plenty of new ground as I haven't seen very many films that appear to accurately describe the experience of being a Chinese American and gay. The older Chinese characters speak in Mandarin while their children spoke English, giving the film a feeling of authenticity while talking about generational differences and cultural identity mixed with issues of being gay, coming out and falling in love.

I was totally charmed by Saving Face. Now it might have had a bit to do with the atmosphere, a totally sold out show full of enthusiastic lesbians and asian families. But I smiled throughout this film and had a great time. Lovely, lovely film.

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