September 6, 2021
by Suzanne Joe Kai
I invited a friend to join me to see SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, the Marvel Studios movie directed by Destin Daniel Cretton on its opening weekend.
Like many Asian Americans I know, we are starved with the lack of faces who look like us in mainstream movies.
We were not disappointed. In fact, the lead actor, Simu Liu, the first Asian to star in a Marvel Studios movie looked, talked, and acted just like an Asian American born and raised in the U.S. In fact, even though Simu sounded and acted just like one of us born in America, he was raised in Canada, and born in Harbin, China. He has succeeded in breaking through all boundaries in reaching North American audiences.
The ensemble cast was also terrific. Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Tsai Chin, Fala Chen, Meng'er Zhang, Ronny Chieng, the whole cast was great - listed here on IMDB.
The box office gross for SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS opened strong.
Associated Press reported forecasts predicting a $50 million box office estimate over the Labor Day weekend taking into account that we are in a Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead it smashed that forecast reporting an estimated $71.4 Million in ticket sales.
I attended a meeting at the Writers Guild of America in Hollywood a few years earlier to hear a researcher from Nielsen present findings on the potential of a "sleeper market" - the Asian American movie-goer...
January 15, 2021 (Updated July 22, 2021 with the official trailer from Paramount!)
By Suzanne Joe Kai
Henry Golding is playing the American superhero leading role of Snake Eyes in a movie based on G.I. Joe characters by Hasbro!
From his breakout role as a romantic lead in "Crazy, Rich Asians" Golding is now starring as an action star in "Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins"
Originally scheduled for release on March 27, 2020, the release date has been pushed a few times and is now scheduled for July 22, 2021 by Paramount Pictures due to Covid-19.
Fans may have a chance to screen this movie in IMAX, RealD 3D, and Dolby Cinema.. It has been reported that there may be a follow on movie in the works, with Henry Golding reprising his lead role as Snake Eyes. Hoping that movie theaters will be open by then!.
Update!: Here is the final trailer released on July 19, 2021 by Paramount Pictures.
July 1, 2021
by Suzanne Joe Kai
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Invites 395 Members for 2021. The push for more diversity continues.
The 2021 class is comprised of 46% women, 39% underrepresented ethnic/racial communities and 53% from 49 countries outside the United States. Here is a download of the list of the invitees from the Academy https://oscars.org/newmembers2021/
Among the invited include Walt Disney CEOBob Chapek a longtime Disney executive who was named CEO of the Walt Disney Company replacing Bob Iger who will remain as executive Chairman until the end of 2021.
Invitees include actors Henry Golding (Still Image on left from Warner Bros "Crazy Rich Asians“), and Steven Yeun,“Minari,” “Burning,” and director Cathy Yan, “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” “Dead Pigs.”
Membership selection decisions are based on professional qualifications, with representation, inclusion and equity remaining a priority as part of its initiative, Academy Aperture 2025.
On September 8, 2020, Oscars.org released this statement:
“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them.
The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson.
“We believe these inclusion...
April 15, 2021
By Ben Fong-Torres
Friends, Strangers Respond to ‘The Year of the Rat’
When I posted my piece about why, as an older Asian American, I’m nervous just walking on the street these days, I expected a mixed reaction. Especially since I told about getting less than friendly stares from some Black people at a restaurant early in the pandemic, in February, 2020. But I was wrong. My article, published on Medium, AsianConnections.com, and my Facebook page, drew more than 100 comments on Facebook alone, from strangers and friends, including classmates from Oakland High, fellow staffers at SF State’s daily paper, where I was a reporter, then editor; fellow Rolling Stone and KSAN employees, broadcasters, and musical pals, including Naomi Eisenberg, singer-fiddler with Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.
(L) Photo Credit: Dianne Fong-Torres
Here’s a sample of the thoughtful, heartfelt, even emotional comments, just ever-so-slightly edited.
Cheryl Serame-Turk: Wow, Ben. Well said. As an Asian American myself, I always thought that my affiliations (glide memorial ensemble, Oakland music community, Silicon Valley tech community) would shield me from most “other” perceptions but this Covid situation is something else altogether.
I now tread carefully which I never have. No matter the age, walking, driving, biking while Asian right now can put you in danger. Never have experienced that in my life. I’m Filipino...
By Ben Fong-Torres
The Year of the Rat
Being an older Chinese American, I am no longer, as Roy Orbison sang, “Running Scared.” I am walking scared, constantly looking around and behind me.
Stop AAPI Hate, the advocacy group, knows of nearly 4,000 cases of violence against Asian Americans since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s time to stop the beatings and shootings, the blaming and finger-pointing.
For me, it’s also time to think back just over a year ago.
It was February, a few days before the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco. 2020. Word of the coronavirus had started to spread, as we awaited the Year of the Rat.
I was in Oakland for script readings at KTVU, which broadcasts the parade, and has had me as a co-anchor since 1997.
At our meetings, which take place around lunch time, we are offered deli sandwiches one day; tepid ravioli and salads the next. It’s enough to drive one to actual restaurants.
That’s how I found myself at a soul food place in Jack London Square.
It wasn’t busy when I entered, around 2 p.m. A couple of parties were there. They were Black, as were the staff. But when one of the customers saw me, I got a most unfriendly glare. It felt like a “What are you doing here?” look.
I tried to shrug it off. But then, as I waited for a waiter, I had a thought. At the meeting earlier at KTVU, we’d addressed the issue of the coronavirus,...