Entertainment Spotlight

Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’

Posted by Ben Fong-Torres - on Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’
By Ben Fong-Torres It’s short shrift time. I have a life that’s ripe (and slightly wrinkled) for blogs and tweeting; for facebooking and updating. I’m just no good at it. My last column here on AsianConnections was about the memorial in late July for my sister Shirley. My last posting on the authors’ site, Redroom, was about a radio promo tour I did (20 stops, all on the phone in my home office) for my Eagles book. On my own home page, the last thing was about hanging with...

Arts & Entertainment

29th Asian American International Film Festival

Posted by Lia Chang on Monday, 10 July 2006

Ham Tran's JOURNEY FROM THE FALL opens the 29th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) on July 13th at the Asia Society.

Ham Tran's JOURNEY FROM THE FALL opens the 29th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) on July 13th at the Asia Society (725 Park Avenue at 70th St. www.asiasociety.org). Dedicated to the millions of Vietnamese boat people and survivors of the communist reeducation camps, Tran's impressive feature film debut is the first American film to depict the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese perspective.

The AAIFF - the nation's longest-running festival devoted to works by filmmakers of Asian descent - is an annual global showcase of feature narratives, documentaries, short films, and special programs. The 2006 festival marks both a glimpse into the future of Asian American filmmaking, highlighting the works of a new generation of emerging talents, and a look back at the historic place of Asian cinema in New York City. Included among the 19 features and 74 shorts at this year's festival are challenging films by a number of first- or second-time filmmakers who have pushed Asian American filmmaking to a new place by engaging with its past.

Running July 13-21 and August 3-6, this year's festival takes place at the Asia Society and the Quad Cinema (34 W. 13th St.) Select films will be shown at Stony Brook University's Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook, Long Island.

Festival offerings include Richard Wong's debut feature COLMA: THE MUSICAL , the first Asian American musical made since 1961's Flower Drum Song . Controversial issues of racism, immigration, and globalization are tackled in Sandhya Suri's I FOR INDIA (a 2006 Sundance Film Festival selection); RIGODON , a tale of three Filipino immigrants living in a post-9/11 New York City; director Robert Winn's GRASSROOTS RISING , a documentary on the Asian Pacific Island working class in contemporary Los Angeles; and NALINI BY DAY, NANCY BY NIGHT , a...

Forbidden City Painting Makes U.S. Museum Debut

Posted by AC Team on Friday, 07 July 2006

An 18th Century Forbidden City Painting Makes Its U.S. Museum Debut after being privately held for 100 years.

SALEM, Mass.An exquisite 18thcentury Chinese painting receives its American museum debut September 23 when the Peabody Essex opens The Emperor Looks West, an installation of imperial art from the Qianlong era. The painting, measuring 20 inches high and 19 feet long, in the traditional hand scroll format, was created for the Qianlong emperor, who ruled China for 60 years. "Victory Banquet at the West Garden is remarkable for its vivid color and extraordinary detail, and gives a glimpse of a once closed part of Chinese societythe Forbidden Cityhome of Chinese emperors for 500 years. The scroll painting, on loan to the Peabody Essex Museum, is being exhibited publicly after a century of private ownership in France. (The scroll once belonged to the family of former French President, Paul Doumer.) The exhibition includes more than 20 other objectsfrom a dazzling European-style clock and a Mughal-style jade bowl to ceramics, enamels and cloisonnreflecting the range of international influences that helped shape imperial art during Qianlongs rule. The Emperor Looks West opens Sept. 23, 2006, and runs through April 30, 2007.

While Chinese culture once captured the imagination of Western art enthusiasts, creating the rage of Chinoiserie, this exhibition shows that the attraction went both ways, says Nancy Berliner, curator of Chinese art. The rulers of 18th century China were equally intrigued with styles coming from Chinas west, including Central Asia and Europe, and they commissioned exceptionally fine works of art reflecting their fascination with those foreign styles.

The scroll, painted in ink, mineral-based color, and gold on silk, by court painters Zhang Tingyan and Zhou Kun, depicts Qianlong as the focus of a ceremony marking a military victory in a region in western China. We see that the emperor has arrived by water; there is an...

Kenny Endo featured in Spirit of Taiko

Posted by Lia Chang on Tuesday, 09 May 2006

Three generations of taiko drummers featured in gayle yamada's the "Spirit of Taiko" airing on PBS in May.

Taiko drumming began 2,000 years ago in Japan where it became part of religious ceremonies, festivals, and everyday village life. In America, contemporary taiko took root in the late 1960s when Japanese immigrant Seiichi Tanaka founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo and Reverend Masao Kodani founded Kinnara Taiko in Los Angeles.

Spirit of Taiko by director gayle yamada, Steve Dung, Dianne Fukami, and Daniel Morii Schwinn, premieres this May on PBS as part of the Center for Asian American Media's lineup of films for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. (Check local listings.) The one-hour documentary reveals the fascinating origins of this ancient art form in the United States and shows how the succeeding generations in America have put their own imprint on contemporary taiko.

Known as the grandfather of American taiko. Seiichi Tanaka emphasizes discipline, spirituality, hard work, and respect in his approach. Today, his renowned San Francisco Taiko Dojo performs throughout the world. Kinnara Taiko began when a group of Japanese American Buddhists in Los Angeles decided to play taiko for fun after temple ceremonies were over. They began without teachers and without any particular style, but their drumming emphasized religious spirituality and inclusion. Students of both schools eventually founded their own taiko dojos in other parts of the country, many of whom are interviewed in the documentary.

In Spirit of Taiko , we also meet a former student of Tanakas, Kenny Endo, who also spent ten years in Japan studying taiko and Japanese classical music and founded the Taiko Center of the Pacific in Hawaii. Endo represents the second generation of American taiko artists. He also learned from Kinnara Taiko in Los Angeles. We meet Masato Baba, part of Americas third generation of taiko drummers and a student of Kenny Endo. Babas parents...

New Asian Cuisine

Posted by Lia Chang on Tuesday, 09 May 2006

Nobu Matsuhisa, Ming Tsai and Martin Yan are among the celebrity chefs featured in New Asian Cuisine; Fabulous Recipes from Celebrity Chefs , a new cookbook created by Savory Productions and published by the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association.

Travel on a virtual globe-spanning trip to the restaurants of the world's finest Asian chefs through the pages of New Asian Cuisine; Fabulous Recipes from Celebrity Chefs .

American food enthusiasts will recognize names such as Nobu Matsuhisa, Ming Tsai, Wolfgang Puck and Asian Connections very own Martin Yan, but unless you live in Mumbai, you may not know Sanjeev Kapoor, the Indian TV counterpart to Emeril Lagasse as well as Hsiu-Pao Tseng (Taiwan), Carol Selva Rajah (Sydney), Paul Rankin (Ireland), Pauline Loh (Singapore), Wai-Keung Kwong (Hong Kong), An Jung-Hyun (Korea), Didier Corlou (Vietnam), Mari Fujii (Japan), Susur Lee (Canada), members of the Asian Chefs Association among others.

With recipes adapted for the home cook, you can virtually visit all the countries represented by these renowned chefs and taste their culinary creations. Chapters include small plates & salads, soups, fish & seafood, meat & poultry, rice & noodles, vegetables, desserts and Asian cocktails.

Created by Savory Productions and published by the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, New Asian Cuisine offers innovative approaches and a fresh perspective to preparing Asian cuisine by following the guidelines of the Asian Food Pyramid, an Asian version of the new USDA Western-centered Food Pyramid.

Created with the assistance of Professor Michael Pardus, Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) at The Culinary Institute of America, the Asian Food Pyramid was developed to promote healthy eating.

Translating the food groups into food choices available in ethnic Asian markets, the Asian Food Pyramid features a diet built on nutrient-rich plant-based foods combined with...

Inside the Balancing Acts of Chinese Acrobat Man Tan Fong

Posted by Lia Chang on Friday, 05 May 2006

Balancing Acts Tells the Remarkable Story of Chinese Acrobat Man Tan Fong

Balancing Acts . a new documentary by director Donna Schatz, chronicles the astonishing life of Man Tan Fong who left his home in 1929 as a teenager in China to train in Hong Kong as an acrobat. After a year of grueling training, he began performing with a Chinese acrobat troupe throughout Europe and eventually formed his own group, the Oriental Brothers. While performing in Copenhagen, Fong met Magda Schweitzer, a Hungarian Orthodox Jewish acrobat, who was performing on the same bill. They fell in love and were married at the start of World War II.

Through archival footage, photos, and interviews, Balancing Acts showcases Man Tan Fongs career and the story of how his wife and two sons were able to survive Nazi-occupied Hungary during WWII. His Chinese citizenship protected them because it gave Magda a Chinese passport, which hid her Jewish identity. Balancing Acts by director Donna Schatz is a story about the sacrifice, love, and perseverance of Man Tan Fong, now in his 90s, and Magda Schweizter, who passed away in 2003.

Balancing Acts premieres on PBS this May as part of the Center for Asian American Media's lineup of films for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. (Check local listings.)

The Center for Asian American Media (formerly known as the National Asian American Telecommunications Association) has a new director. A fond farewell to Eddie Wong and a hearty welcome to Stephen Gong. Gong, 53, joins the Center after working for 18 years at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, most recently as the Deputy Director. He has a degree in English from UC Berkeley and attended graduate school in cinema studies at the University of Southern California. www.asianamericanmedia.org.