AsianAmericanFilm.com is a forum for filmmakers and fans dedicated to a distinct genre that's neither quite Asian nor American. Scanning the film news, analysis and filmmaking resources, visitors quickly see that the site's scope jumps well beyond Wayne Wang's "The Joy Luck Club" to help spread the word on the work of independent Asian American filmmakers like Justin Lin ("Better Luck Tomorrow") and Eric Byler ("Charlotte Sometimes").
"There's painfully awful representations of Asian people in film," says filmmaker Greg Pak, who created the site in 1999 to help build audiences for work by Asian Americans. "Ideally, there won't be a need in 15 to 20 years for AsianAmericanfilm.com, but the industry is still catching up with today's demographics."
The site allows visitors to engage in intelligent discourse that's part film criticism and part cultural study. A commentary by E. Koohan Paik asks, "Is 'Lost in Translation' Racist?" (" We laugh at [the Japanese characters], not with them.") Other discussions focus on Tom Cruise as "The Last Samurai" and how Lucy Liu kicked butt in "Kill Bill: Vol. 1."
In a news section unapologetically subtitled "Shamelessly biased news reports about the latest Asian American film happenings," it's not surprising to see Pak promoting his own work -- currently a film called "Robot Stories" that screens at the Laemmle Fairfax Friday through March 18.
Further rummaging around the site will also unearth "Minute Movies" -- an area that includes a short mockumentary, "How to Do the Asian Squat" -- and "Haiku Fu," an occasional contest that offers visitors a theme and challenges them to review in haiku. A recent winning entry, inspired by "Bend It Like Beckham," reads: "The best child-defies-/Strict-parents movie to date./Please, can it be last?"
-- Christine N. Ziemba