In a nearly three-decade career distinguished by an impressive portfolio of non-fiction features and shorts, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jessica Yu has rarely attempted narrative films. No doubt, the thinking goes, her incisively-essayed portraits of real people living on the margins of society/community/reality have provided a wealth of stories that greatly mitigate the need for Jessica to ever have to extend into the narrative format. Yet, on those rare occasions that she has dipped her toes into narrative filmmaking, she has struck gold. PING PONG PLAYA (2007), a splashy feature produced in collaboration with Cherry Sky Films and co-written and starring Jimmy Tsai (riffing off of an online persona created for a fictitious sporting apparel company), allowed Jessica to display a wry left-of-center sense of humor anyone outside of her circle of friends would never know she had. Populated with a who’s who of Asian American acting talents (Jim Lau, Roger Fan, Elizabeth Sung, Smith Cho) in a total send-up of San Gabriel Valley sports culture, PING PONG PLAYA both lampooned and honored the concept of family and community. It also hinted at a potential career at feature narrative filmmaking for Jessica Yu. Because of her broadly exemplary career as non-fiction filmmaker, television director, and most recently a published novelist, we may have to wait a l-o-n-g time for Jessica to tackle feature narratives again. — Abraham Ferrer
Director: Jessica Yu
Writers: Jessica Yu, Jimmy Tsai
Cast: Jimmy Tsai, Jim Lau, Roger Fan, Smith Cho, Elizabeth Sung
For those without access to a simple toilet, poop can be poison. Businessman-turned-sanitation-superhero Jack Sim fights this oft-neglected crisis affecting 2.6 billion people in this short documentary commissioned by GE Focus Forward.
THE KINDA SUTRA asks the big questions: Where do babies come from? And how are they made? Mixing animation and interviews, this hybrid short invites a variety of people to explain their earliest understanding of sex, conception and “how it all works”.
In SOUR DEATH BALLS, a group of kids and adults attempt to eat the world’s sourest candy.