Gangsters, War Stories, and Women Named Grace Lee

March 15, 2005

On Friday, I saw the much anticipated Grace Lee Project, which I also recommend. The director, Grace Lee, goes in search of other Grace Lees, to find out who Grace Lee is and why so many Korean Americans are named Grace Lee. Grace Lee (in general) appears at first to be the stereotypical Asian American woman – quiet, studious, nice, overachieving, but forgettable. Grace interviews a bunch of other Graces. I enjoyed the journey that the film took us on. It didn't seem to be going in any particular direction, other than the director’s growing appreciation for other Grace Lees, but who cares. It was a fun ride.

Then I saw IQU at Cafe Du Norde. I had seen the band once before, about 7 years ago when I lived in Olympia. I was glad to see they were just as good, maybe even better. And they were awfully cute. It’s been 4 years since they put an album out, and we’ll review the new one, Sun Q, and talk to them too in the next issue of Hyphen.

Saturday, I saw a collection of shorts called Fishbowls and Silent Years named after two of the films. Most of the films shared a quiet, sad quality about them. With the exception of the last film, Fishbowls, the films had very little dialogue. There was a not a bad film in the bunch. Standouts include: Sejong Park's animation Birthday Boy, set during the Korean war, about a little boy pretending to be a solider. Running in Tall Grasses by Howard Duy Vu is also about a little boy during war time, who doesn't understand why his father has been out of the picture. Fishbowls by Kayo Hatta was actually funny, which set it apart tone-wise from the other films in the program, but it adhered to the common theme of that night’s program: isolation.

I also saw Slow Jam King (pictured above) Saturday night. How in the world Steven Mallorca (who wrote, directed, produced, hell he event acted) makes a cohesive story involving a wannabe Filipino American thug, a black father and husband, and a white country singer/perfume salesman is really quite mind boggling. The script was excellent. But it actually took a while for the film to grow on me. I think it needed to be edited some more. Could have been about half an hour shorter.

I had tickets for Chinese Restaurants on Sunday, but didn’t go so that I could work on Hyphen instead. (Damn you, Hyphen!) I’ve heard from several people that it’s really good though. Tonight I’ll be back at the Kabuki theater for another shorts screening…


Melissa Hung

Founding Editor

Melissa Hung is the founding editor of Hyphen. She was the editor in chief for the magazine's first five years and went on to serve in many other leadership roles on the staff and board for more than a decade. She is a writer and freelance journalist. Her essays and reported stories have appeared in NPR, Vogue, Pacific Standard, Longreads, and Catapult, among others. She grew up in Texas, the eldest child of immigrants. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.



more stuff: saw turtles can fly tonight, what i think will be the best movie of this festival for me. it's a devastating narrative film about iraqi kurdish orphans in a refugee camp right before the latest war. it's not showing again, unfortunately, but if you ever get a chance to see it, go. and bring tissues.then i saw keka right afterward, which of course suffered from the comparison, but was still a light, enjoyable flick with a darker underbelly. a filipino narrative film about a frat girlfriend who avenges her boyfriend's murder by serial killing the five rival frat boys who done him in. what's disturbing is that the film took it for granted that frat boys murder each other all the time. also not showing again in the fest, but worth seeing.