Wednesday, May 28, 2014

King Hu Films at the San Diego MOPA, June 2014

On June 5-7, 2014 three films by the innovative, acclaimed kung fu film director King Hu (胡金銓, 1932-1997) were screened at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts. A link to the event can be found here, and a biographical account of director King Hu, written by film scholar Stephen Teo, can be found here on the Senses of Cinema website.

King Hu's films are now restored with new subtitles and were presented on these dates:

Thursday, June 5th: Dragon Inn 龍門客棧(1967)
Friday, June 6th: A Touch of Zen 俠女 (1971)
Saturday, June 7th: The Valiant Ones 忠烈圖 (1975)

King Hu screenshot from Dragon Inn (1967).

I attended the event on June 5th as part of a panel that took audience questions during a Q and A session after the screening of Dragon Inn (1967).

I had an opportunity to interview the star of the film, Shi Juan, in 2008 while completing my dissertation research in Taiwan on 1960s and 1970s Taiwan cinema, so it was a pleasure participating in the event and listening to feedback from the audience. It was fun to see the images on the big screen for the first time, solidifying for me why the film was such a hit in its day.

  Post-screening Q&A panel alongside Dr. Brian Hu & martial arts expert Dr. Craig Reid

Friday, May 9, 2014

San Diego Surf Film Festival, 2014

The San Diego Surf Film Festival (May 7-10) mixes three of my favorite things into one event--this coastal city, surfing, and film. As I found out while attending last year, it's pretty much impossible for magic not to happen with these ingredients. A lot of incredible work by the festival organizers--see an interview of Pierce Kavanagh by Bobby Oliver here--and film contributors makes this an annual event not to be missed.

On Thursday (May 8th) the film that stood out to me the most was The Cradle of Storms (dir. Bryce Lowe-White & Ben Weiland, USA), a short which documents a two-week journey to the Aleutian Islands and unexpectedly good surf. I have always wondered what it must have been like to see surf films in the 1970s with stoked audiences cheering when Gerry Lopez came shooting out of a barrel--it must be something like the hoots that erupt spontaneously during a packed out SDSFF set.

Post-screening Q and A with directors at SDSFF 2014.

On Friday and Saturday (May 9 & 10) there were cheers for brothers traveling through Patagonia, surfing in Norway and the Atlantic Coast of Europe, the gay surfing community, inspiring stories of inner-city children loving life in the waves, surfing in Japan, crazy waves and slabs in UK and Ireland, and my son's favorite film on Saturday: surfing life in New Hampshire ... among others.

The surf film industry is a strange creature: corporations pump out film after film--you see them playing in clothing stores in malls like television commercials. But the industry never knows when it is or isn't posturing. Unlike Hollywood, it seems incapable of creating illusions that can, even in spite of themselves, strike a universal chord. So it becomes a joke to see their self-conscious image-things, trying so hard to be earnest, never knowing when they get IT right even when production values and surfing talent are through the roof.

But here there can be moments when a creative connection between audience, film-maker, and film-object just seems to work.

Soul of a Carnation, Heart of Surf trailer subtitles from heliovalentim on Vimeo.


... some reviews of last year's SDSFF 2013 here: posts 1, 2, 3, & 4.