September 11, 2008
By Barry Caine
I ONCE RECEIVED a voice mail from a woman criticizing me for reviewing a film from "a male point of view." Mull that a moment.
Also, men averaged more reviews than women, 14 vs. nine.
We have the Y, we do what we can.
The woman left no call-back number, but as an homage to her, I'm creating this female-centric column -- from a male point of view.
Pioneer women: "The Curse of Quon Gwon," written and directed in 1916 by Oakland filmmaker Marion Wong, then 21, is considered the first Chinese-American movie.
Wong, who started the first Chinese-American film company the year before and kept it going until 1921, cast her sister-in-law Violet as a Mary Pickford-ish heroine. She also gave her mother a role.
Inspired by her family's 1911-12 trip to China, the film flopped. With a so-it-goes philosophy, Wong gave copies to family members. One sat in Violet's basement until 1968, when she asked her grandson, Gregory Yee Mark, then 20, to do something with it.
And so began a process that led to the silent's being re-edited from 35mm to 16mm and transferred to DVD -- with assists from filmmaker Arthur Dong and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
You can check out the result at 5:15 p.m. Sunday when "The Curse of Quon Gwon" screens at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, 37417 Niles Blvd., Fremont. It will follow a 4 p.m. discussion by Mark, now a Sacramento State professor of Asian American Studies, and Mai Lon Gittlesohn, Mark's aunt.
A question-and-answer period will follow the screening. Contact 510-494-1411 or www.nilesfilmmuseum.org.
And by the way: It's free.
Co-starring your house: A man won, but a woman made it happen. (That seems to happen a lot, doesn't it?) Eric Steiner, who lives in Oakland's Grand Lake neighborhood, won a mini-competition for the right to have a PSA for the "No on 8" campaign -- aka the proposition that would ban gay marriage -- shot in his abode.
It happened last Sunday. Location scouts were looking for two spots. Ami Zins, director of the Oakland Film Office, sent e-mails to six home owners who have pictures of their houses posted on filmoakland.com.
When the location manager said what the filming was for, everyone contacted said "Yes," Zins says. "Some even offered their homes for free because they supported the cause." The company, Tom Donald Films of San Francisco, shot a second anti-8 PSA over the weekend at the Oakland Morcom Amphitheater of Roses, aka the Oakland Rose Garden.
If you want "your home, restaurant, barbershop" available for a film, Zins says, contact the film office through its Web site. No matter what happens, you'll have a conversation piece.
'Iron'-clad freebie: If you missed some of summer's hottest releases, you get a second chance to see them on the big screen, outdoors, and FOR FREE.
The Solano 2 Drive-In in Concord and the Capitol 6 Drive-in in San Jose are hosting what they call "Customer Appreciation Night" on Thursday, Sept. 18.
The Solano 2, at 1611 Solano Way, just off Highway 4, will show "Iron Man" and "Kung Fu Panda." The Capitol 6 will screen those films plus "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
If you haven't been to a drive-in for a while, or ever, you're in for a treat. The audio plays through your car's stereo instead of those staticky boxes you had to hang from your car window.
Also, according to a release from West Wind Drive-Ins, the company that owns the renovated drive-ins, new projectors produce a screen image seven times brighter than before.
MilkBar and Noodle: It's year No. 4 for the MilkBar International Live Film Festival, which runs today through Sunday at the Noodle Factory Performing Arts Center, 1255 26th St., #207 (at Union), Oakland. MilkBar and Noodle offer experimental films and collaborations "that push the boundaries" of participants from different arts around the world. Highlights include the U.S. debuts of films from the St. Petersburg Open Cinema Festival and the Finnish Love and Anarchy Festival (winner of the festival best-name award, edging the Burbank Smog and Nitpicking Fest).
Send film info, tips and comments to Barry Caine at [email protected]
Originally published by Barry Caine, Oakland Tribune.
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