Slant Film Festival Recap

Photo by Camilo Gonzalez

A little over a week ago I was in Houston for the 10th anniversary of the Slant Film Festival. Good times. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for 10 years. Here is a recap, posted originally on the Slant Film Festival site.

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Q&A after the screening with filmmaker J.P. Chan. Photo by Han Wang. 

Thanks to everyone who made it out to our 10th annual festival. We had a great time hiding out from the Houston heat by watching intriguing movies and performances indoors. We kicked things off on Friday, May 21 with a screening of 7 short films. Filmmaker J.P. Chan was in town from New York and after the screening he answered questions about knives, his day job, and how he bypassed film school and just started making films.

The screening was held at Super Happy Fun Land, which is a laid back, brightly-colored, chaotically-decorated music venue housed in an old warehouse. Inside, there were murals on the walls, couches, rows of seats reclaimed from a movie theater, pianos, and towers of sock monkeys and Raggedy Ann dolls.

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Photo by Han Wang

Photo by Camilo Gonzalez
Photo by Camilo Gonzalez

Saturday, the visiting artists for Slant were treated to brunch and a tour of interesting Houston art by the Aurora Picture Show ladies (who are the nicest, friendliest bunch around!). Aurora’s founder, Andrea Grover, led the tour in her van.

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Aurora Picture Show’s founder, Andrea Grover, in front of David Addicks’ giant sculptures of presidents’ heads. Photo by Han Wang.

That evening we put on The Neo-Benshi Experience, an evening of performances with film. Up first were Neelanjana Banerjee and Robin Sukhadia from San Francisco who performed their own scripts to clips from two films directed by Yash Chopra that starred Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan. (The clips were from the 1981 film Silsila and the 1975 film Deewar.) It was highly entertaining! Robin’s soundtrack to a fight scene in Deewar included a mashup of live tabla with Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”

Photo by Steve Patlan
Robin Sukhadia and Neelanjana Banerjee get their neo-benshi on. Photo by Steve Patlan.

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Photo by Melissa Hung

Next up was singer-songwriter Goh Nakamura. We had asked him and filmmaker Dino Ignacio to collaborate on something new especially for Slant. Dino animated a children’s story he wrote called The Tower of Misunderstanding and Goh performed a live score to it that was magical. Then Goh played some of his own songs from his albums. (Psst, you can download Goh’s second album for free from his website.)

Photo by Steve Patlan
Goh Nakamura plays a set at Slant. Photo by Melissa Hung

After a Q&A with the performers, Slant curator Melissa Hung asked Goh and Robin to collaborate on the spot. The two jammed (on the guitar and tabla, respectively) to an imagined fight scene. It ended, happily, in robot dances.

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Curator Melissa Hung with performers Goh Nakamura, Neelanjana Banerjee, and Robin Sukhadia. Photo by Han Wang.

On Sunday, May 23, Austin-based filmmaker PJ Raval gave a free talk at the Aurora Picture Show Video Library about his experiences in niche markets of indie filmmaking, specifically the Asian American and LGBT films communities. He showed a clip from his documentary Trinidad and spoke about using niches to his advantage, instead of getting boxed in by them, to get grants and leverage support. Because of his success with Trinidad, Raval is now working on a documentary about gay and lesbian retiree communities.

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PJ Raval gives a free talk at the Aurora Picture Show Video Library

Yes, that’s right: there was a visiting artist named J.P. and another one named PJ. That was initially confusing to some people. Others contended that they were maybe the one and the same and couldn’t appear in the same room at the same time. But we have proof otherwise!

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Filmmakers PJ Raval and J.P. Chan with curator Melissa Hung.

After this last event, the visiting artists took in some of Houston’s museums and delicious Vietnamese sandwiches before heading back to their home cities. Another year of Slant wrapped!

For more photos, check out Aurora Picture Show’s Flickr page. Thanks to the Aurora Picture Show for putting on another dynamite year of Slant Film Festival.

Also, many thanks to volunteer Thao Tran and the many donors who made Slant possible this year: Adrienne Aquino, Robert Burtman, Seng Chen, Shing-Hwa Cheung, Fumiko Ladd Chino, Gary Chou, Derek Chung, Sadie Contini, Sarah Cooke, Stewart Davis, Emily Hung, Stephen Hung, Lisa Ko, C. Kinnier Latismosa, Stefanie Liang, Edward Lin, Khanh Nguyen, My Nguyen, erin Khue Ninh, Jack Tung, Han Wang, Robert Zverina, Anonymous, and The Steven K. Pak Memorial Fund.