By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
It may be officially springtime, but the vestiges of winter and its awards season still linger. Read on to see how Asians have been winning in the media this past month.
Recognizing the best of Asian cinema: the Asian Film Awards
We’re all aware of the Academy Awards. But the Asian Film Awards (AFA), though are little less visible here in America, is equally as important in recognizing Asian film professionals and their accomplishments found in films from Asia. Inaugurated in 2007 and routinely held in Hong Kong, the AFA honors outstanding film professionals in Asian cinema. This year’s AFA, which took place earlier in March, marked the award show’s seventh year.
Among the AFA’s many categories, there were a few notables. The Chinese melodrama film “Mystery” took top honors in the Best Film category. Japanese director Kitano Takeshi won Best Director for his work on the Japanese film “Outrage Beyond.” Filipino actor Eddie Garcia took home a win for Best Actor for his performance in the Filipino film “Bwakaw.” Nora Aunor, who is Filipina, snagged Best Actress for her work in the Filipino drama, “Thy Womb.”
The AFA also honored Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh with an Excellence in Asian Cinema award for her longtime contribution to Asian cinema. Yeoh is known for starring in a range of award-winning films. She played the female warrior Yu Shu Lien in the Chinese drama epic, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and, more recently, she played the Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi in the biopic “The Lady.”
It’s awesome to see an entire awards show devoted to the achievements of those working in Asian cinema.
Upcoming comedy films for Asian Americans
A trailer for the final installment of the “The Hangover” franchise — a soon-to-be completed trilogy detailing the alcoholic-fueled, comedic antics of a group of male friends — was recently released. Titled, “The Hangover III,” the trailer showcases the inimitable actor-comedian Ken Jeong reprising his role as a hilarious yet deranged effeminate gangster. Jeong, who is Korean American, is also currently starring on the NBC sitcom “Community.”
Speaking of “The Hangover,” the team behind the raunchy comedy franchise recently launched another film in theaters with a similar premise, “21 and Over.” The comedy, which stars Korean American actor Justin Chon, follows a straight-A college student who celebrates his 21st birthday by indulging in a night of alcoholic mayhem and debauchery. Of course, it’s the night before an important medical school interview. Naturally, antics ensue.
“21 and Over” is exciting news for Chon, as it is the first film where he has received top billing. And, perhaps more importantly, the film continues to shatter the existing stereotype of exclusively bookish and one-dimensional Asian characters that the American media usually portrays. Chon gives American audiences a flawed yet fully-fleshed Asian American character — and I mean this in the most literal sense, as you get to see his naked behind a few times in the film. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Asians winning at life! (Or competitive reality shows)
If you’ve been keeping up with the competitive cooking reality show “Top Chef,” you know that Korean American chef Kristen Kish won the show’s most recent season. This past season may be memorable to Seattleites, as the majority of the episodes took place in the kitchens of well-known restaurants in the Emerald City.
Kish, who is a Korean adoptee, plans to spend part of her $125,000 winnings on a trip to Korea in order to discover and connect with her roots. Congrats to Kish for not only winning the title, but for being the second female Top Chef in the show’s past 10 seasons, as well as being the first Asian American female to hold the title. A shout out also goes out to Sheldon Simeon, a Hawaiian-based Filipino chef, who made it as one of the show’s top three finalists.
“Top Chef” isn’t the only recent reality show with ties to Seattle. The latest season of “The Bachelor,” a match-making reality show that follows one bachelor’s quest to find true love among a sea of 25 hopeful ladies, saw bachelor Sean Lowe paired off with bachelorette Catherine Giudici. They are now engaged.
Giudici, who is half Filipina, grew up in Seattle and, up until her participation in “The Bachelor,” worked as a visual designer at Amazon. Though marriages from “The Bachelor” historically don’t survive long-term, here’s hoping that a fellow Seattleite will break the curse. (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.