six years ago, ann marie flem-ing threatened me with this: "In the next generation, I am going to be who you see everywhere. And everything is gonna change."How long is a generation, exactly? Because maybe everything's changed already.
In 94, Fleming was sorting through the identity thicket. As a Chinese-Euro-Australian filmmaker born in Japan and raised out on the mess coast, she had her work cut out.
This weekend, when she receives a retrospective as part of the Fourth Reel Asian Film Festival, Fleming's bye-racial freestyling will be what you see everywhere.
The arrival stories and assimilation dramas are fading from the Asian-Canadian and Asian-American scenes. In their place, uncertainty. Or further uncertainty.
Reel Asian opens tonight with Post Concussion (Thursday, November 23, 8 pm, Royal), Daniel Yoon's madcap comedy about a man's life spiralling out of control when he suffers a head injury.
In Korea last month, Yoon confessed to a serious case of the inbetweenies. Post Concussion played in the Korean cinema section of the Pusan film festival, despite the fact that it's set in Berkeley, shot in English and has more to say about California flake society than the dilemmas of the hyphen, much less Korea itself.
Yoon wrote, directed, produced and edited the film, and he stars in it, too. Usually that's a recipe for disaster, but Post Concussion charms. Yoon's own deadpan delivery grounds the film and balances the scattershot gags.
It's not an especially Asian film, whatever that means. But it's very Asian-American.
Reel Asian rolls all around the Pacific Rim, picking up a collection of experimental shorts in Taiwan (Saturday, November 25, 4 pm, Innis Town Hall), a handful of migrant movies in Australia (Friday, November 24, 6:30 pm, Royal) and an oddball feature in good old, reliable HK. Kwok Wai-lun's And So And So (Friday, November 24, 10:15 pm, Royal) offers 10 episodes from the patchwork kingdom of Hong Kong. These are portraits of cellphone kids, desperate immigrants and comfortable outsiders.
In one of this festival's many smart programming moves, And So And So underlines the roiling hybridity within Asia itself.
Hong Kong is anything but a secure home port. As Fleming said, everything is gonna change.
Fleming's spotlight (Sunday, November 26, 4:15 pm, Innis) selects shorts from 1987 to the present. At her best -- You Take Care Now and New Shoes: An Interview In Exactly Five Minutes -- Fleming shows the wit, compression and pointed rage that have influenced a small genre of Canadian women's short films.
Fleming's afternoon is curated by Helen Lee, who screens her own Subrosa as part of a standout closing-night package (Sunday, November 26, 7 pm, Royal).
Siphoned from the back story of a feature film script, Subrosa's plot has one of Lee's deep-reflective heroines landing in Seoul to look for the mother who long ago gave her up for adoption. But this film -- transferred from digital video -- succeeds on its powerful emotion and immersive mood. As a portrait of dislocation, it moves beyond place names to something spiritual.
It shares a few things with Richard Fung's Sea In The Blood (same screening time). For years, Fung has drawn wide-ranging, intimate video memoirs -- My Mother's Place, The Way To My Father's Village -- from the stories of his Chinese Trinidadian family. Sea In The Blood may be his best work yet.
The title refers to thalassemia, an inherited form of anemia that struck Fung's brother and sister. In a gorgeous collage of old photographs, home movies and new video footage, he tells the story of his sister Nan, who died of the condition, to whom he first came out and and against whom he committed an unwitting, but permanent, betrayal.
This is a wise, heartbreaking confession. Not to be missedREEL ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL November 23-26, Royal Cinema and Innis Town Hall. $8, opening night $10, five-coupon book $25. 703-9333, www.reelasian.com