The Day My Mom Fell

What I remember most vividly is my mother’s bloody face staring blankly at me, hands and knees on the concrete steps.  Her forehead had a large gash across it–the blood streamed down her cheeks like tears.  I must have been staring blankly back at her too; I wasn’t going to fully process what had happened until years later.

She turned her face away from me as I stood, stiff as a board.  My aunt, who rushed over at the loud thump of her falling came out to the steps to help:

“Sis, sis, are you okay? Sis, sis, look at me.”

My mom turned her face towards my aunt, but away from me again; unable to speak.

“You don’t want Atsuko to see you like this?”

My mom shook her head.

My uncle called 911 and within the hour, an ambulance had come to take my mother away to stitch her up and to check for further injuries on her head.

—————–

I don’t remember anything past that from that night.  I was 14 and fully conscious.  I was enrolled in summer school at the time and must have gone into class the next day, but like a zombie as my mother was that night she fell, I just went through the actions of my day to day activities.

I was taking Geometry in preparation for high school and boy, did I fail that class.  I didn’t even notice the regression; I just couldn’t understand why I kept failing my tests and having a hard time concentrating.  I hated studying.  I hated that my grandma was wasting money on these expensive classes that I kept failing.  I felt so much guilt.

It wasn’t years later after I had graduated from high school that my grandmother talked to me about that night.  She said to me,

“Your uncle was really surprised that the next morning, you got up and took the bus to go to UCLA to your class all by yourself.  You know, after such a rough night.”

I never saw it as anything heroic; I was used to my mom having grand seizures where she’d fall– sometimes in public while shopping, or sometimes in the bathroom, where she’d lock herself in if she felt one coming.  One time, my uncle had to put a toothbrush in her mouth so she wouldn’t bite her tongue off.  I’d seen all kinds of scary episodes of my mom falling, but for some reason, that particular one had impacted me the most.

Now that nearly another decade has passed, I realize that the reason I had froze and become a zombie after that particular fall was because it was the first time my mom was conscious enough to notice me after her seizure: She was conscious and didn’t want me to worry.  Her turning her face away from me, in an effort to protect me from seeing her in pain; her bleeding love… It’s all something that I had to take this long to process; to understand, and to be so grateful about.

I love you, mom.  So much.  In this world that has brought you much pain, I write, create, and perform…for you.

Clayton Farris is a Pick Up Artist in Kristina Wong’s latest play, ‘Cat Lady’

Comedian/Actress/Writer Kristina Wong has taken her latest play to San Francisco.  ‘Cat Lady’ not only explores loneliness and depression amongst Asian women, but of Pick Up Artists too.  Yes, she gives homage to the tools, like Mystery and his methods of picking up women.

When asked about her choice to incorporate Pick Up Artists with the idea of lonely cat ladies, she answered that while on tour with her previous play “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” she would often go home feeling alone after a standing ovation.  She theorized that Pick Up Artists go out every night in a kind of “performance” too, sometimes taking a girl home for a one night stand, then essentially going back to living a lonely life.

Not only do I support this because of the Asian female comedy content, but my friend Clayton Shane Farris is in this play as one of the pick up artists!  If you’re in the San Francisco area and have some time this weekend, definitely go check it out!

It’ll be showcased at the ODC Theater Friday (tonight) through Sunday night:

8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun. $17-$20. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., S.F.www.odcdance.org.

Here is some press form the San Francisco Chronicle about the play:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2011%2F11%2F02%2FNSH21LMP6E.DTL

 

 

LiTTLEROCK’s week long presence across the Chateau Marmont

Last Friday, we opened up at the Laemmle Sunset 5 with no idea of how the screening will be received back in Los Angeles.  With numerous emails and facebook event invites, all of our friends and acquaintances were notified of this theatrical release and I must say, we were really happy with the turnout.

Theater 3 where LiTTLEROCK was playing holds 128 people.  All 128 seats were filled up.  People were being turned away at the door for not having bought tickets online.  It was insane.

One of the recurring themes in the film is the fact that Cory (Zacharia) a local in the town of Littlerock, dreams of being an actor in Hollywood but can never make it out there. We didn’t know if that would be the same course that our film would take, but Littlerock being the film’s main setting, only 70 miles away from Hollywood, actually made it to Hollywood.  And across from the Marmont.

It’s still a constant struggle to get the film out there and to get people to leave their house, find parking, buy tickets, and sit through an hour and a half of a film about two Japanese tourists… so to everyone who came out, a million thanks.  Your support means so much to us… and makes the journey that we took from production to post-production to whatever it is we’re going through now much more worth it.

It’s still playing at the Laemmle Sunset 5 until the 8th of this month, then it plays at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco from the 9th-15th.  Nor Cal friends, I hope to see you up there!  Director Mike Ott and I will be at the screening on the 9th and the 10th.

Snakes and Birds on a Plane

I heard this on the radio while I was driving this morning and I almost crashed from laughing so hard.

A man was arrested last week at the Miami International Airport for having taped seven exotic snakes and three tortoises onto the inside of his pants while trying to walk through security.  He stuffed them into women’s hoisery then used tape to secure them.   When interviewed, officers gave credit to the “millimeter wave advanced imaging technology machine” for pointing out the suspicious items in his pants…  not the moving bulge that they could probably see with their naked eye.

All the while this was happening in Miami, a woman was caught at the security at LAX for having two endangered birds wrapped into socks then taped onto her body.  Seriously, that’s not only animal torture, but just a really uncomfortable 12 hour ride (she was going to China).

Source:  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20099329-504083.html

Screening of Kimjongilia disrupted in Seoul!

An outdoor screening of Kimjongilia (2010) was disrupted numerous times last Monday by 4,000 liberal opposition protestors outside of Seoul City Hall.

The screening was put together by South Korean university students trying to encourage citizens to save prisoners out of the North Korean prison camps.  Some prisoners in particular that the students were protesting for the North Korean government to bring back is Shin Sook-ja and her daughters, who had been imprisoned there after moving there (to receive “free medical care,” which they were told as lies).

Kimjongilia is a documentary that tells the story of 12 North Korean defectors before and after they had escaped from from Kim Jong-Il’s dictatorship.  I got the pleasure of meeting N.c. Heikin, the lovely director of the film in New York earlier this month.  I had been wanting to meet her ever since I found out about the film, which traveled the film festival circuit from 2009 to 2010 (World Premiere was at Sundance).

The protestors at the screening tried to stop the screening by throwing water bottles at the outdoor screen and at the people who were supporting the event.  By the third attempt to screen Kimjongilia, one of the protestors cut the electricity supplying power to the projector.  They are still investigating the exact reason behind why the protestors decided to interrupt the screening, (which had been planned months ahead) but an article in the Joongang Daily News states that the brawl that occurred that night is living proof of the contrasting views of North Korea that still exists in South Korea today.

When told about the protest that occurred, Heikin responded on Facebook, “This is really incredible. I hope no one was hurt. I am amazed that so many more people would support KJI then condemn him. Unbelievable.”

Though chaos broke out, I give much praise and love to the 7 passionate souls who fought to expose the truth and harsh conditions that prisoners live through in North Korea and to N.c. Heikin for moving the hearts of people living thousands of miles away.  If anything, this ruckus has encouraged to open more dialogue about the film and the issues of the prison camps, right?

Sources:

http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2940613

http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/08/22/2011082200118.html?outlink=facebook

“Drive safe friends / make lots of good films…”

were the last words I heard from Graham Leggat.

I’m truly sad to say that Graham passed away two nights ago at the age of 51 after battling cancer for 18 months.  He was the executive director at the San Francisco Film Society and a dear friend.  I don’t get along with and like everybody I meet, but Graham’s genuine passion for life, a sense of community, and people were so transparent that I found myself falling under the spell of Leggat… which turned into a short but unforgettable friendship.  He has supported Mike, me, and the whole LiTTLEROCK crew so much with our journey the past year.

We miss him so much…

and we will do just what his last statement said to do: keep making films while embracing every day as a precious gift.

There will be a memorial service held for him in San Francisco at the end of September, and his farewell letter to the public when he announced his departure from the Film Society can be read at sffs.org.

Condolences can be sent to: inmemoryofgraham@sffs.org or c/o Jessica Anthony, SFFS, 39 Mesa Street, Suite 110, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129.

Cat Lovers, New York Singers/Dancers, and San Francisco Indie Film Supporters:

Some announcements I’d like to make:

1.  My friend Anais Hinojosa is looking for a home for her cat.  Her landlady just gave warning of eviction if the cat is not gone within a week.  If anybody is interested of or knows anybody who can care for a cat, let me know at atsuko.okatsuka@gmail.com.  If you know of a cat pound that doesn’t exterminate, that information would be greatly appreciated as well.

2. Calling San Francisco!

Mye Hoang’s (Artistic Director at San Diego Asian Film Foundation) boyfriend, filmmaker Dave Boyle is looking for extras to be in his new film (sequel to Surrogate Valentine) tomorrow at the Roxie Theater from 11 am- 5 pm.  If you’re in the area and have time during those hours, they could really use the help!  Just show up at the theater.  There are some parts that they’ll be assigning to people as well if interested.

3.  Calling New York!

My talented friend Ayana Hampton has brought her musical/theater/dance show (THE MORNING AFTER SHOW) to New York, which will be showcased from September 11-18 and she still needs dancers/singers (male and female).  If you’re interested in performing and being seen at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, (where the show will premiere) contact Ayana at ayanalive@gmail.com.

Information about tickets can be found here: http://www.nuyorican.org/calendar.php

Thanks all!

Atsy