Sylvie Kim

contributing editor & blogger

Sylvie Kim is a contributing editor at Hyphen. She previously served as Hyphen's blog coeditor with erin Khue Ninh, film editor, and blog columnist.

She writes about gender, race, class and privilege in pop culture and media (fun fun fun!) at and at SF Weekly's The Exhibitionist blog. Her work has also appeared on Racialicious and Salon.

'The Goods,' Lee, Yi, and Yimou Too


With a to-date gross of only $8.5 million, it looks like today's protest (led by The Japanese American Citizens League, Imada Wong Communications Group, and Media Action Network for Asian American) of Paramount Pictures' comedy The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard won't do much for the film's box office haul. See? Pearl Harbor jokes and hi-larious hate crime reenactments aren't the cinematic jackpots they used to be.

Don't Sleep on AAIFF Shorts Programs

Cynthia's already given you the details on the 32nd annual Asian American International Film Festival which kicked off this Thursday and if you're in the NYC area, we highly recommend getting yourself some tickets. Especially considering that your other cinematic alternative this weekend is paying ten bucks to see Katharine Heigl and Gerard Butler try to out-cliche each other in The Ugly Truth.

Lee Isaac Chung's 'Munyurangabo' on DVD


Currently making the rounds and garnering rave reviews at film festivals is Lee Isaac Chung's Munyurangabo, a tale following the eponymous hero's mission to avenge his father's death with the help of his friend Sangwa. Munyurangabo (or 'Ngabo for short) is Tutsi and Sangwa is Hutu, facts that don't complicate their friendship until their families cross paths and the reminders of years of genocide begin to bubble up.

'Funny People' Marketing Causes Laughs, Confusion

Judd Apatow is taking an interesting -- and to some, confusing -- approach to marketing his upcoming film Funny People, starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. Apatow and Co. have created a fake television series starring one of Funny People's characters, a hack actor named Mark Taylor Jackson played by Jason Schwartzman (I Heart Huckabee's, Rushmore). The series Yo Teach! is a send-up of every corny sitcom to ever appear on "TGIF" or Saturday morning programming, sitcoms we watched despite the bad writing, terrible acting, and clichés galore.

Family Dramedy 'Dim Sum Funeral' Opens in L.A.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for dimsumfuneral.jpg

Playing for a one-week exclusive engagement in the Los Angeles area is Anna Chi's Dim Sum Funeral, a film that tracks the lives of estranged Chinese American siblings who return home for their mother's traditional Chinese funeral. Inevitably they each tackle their issues with Mommy, whom they've affectionately dubbed "Dragon Lady."

Summer Movie Asian-spotting

Summer movie season is upon us and if you're like me, you're probably wondering what the Asian American Cinematic Presence Forecast is looking like in the upcoming months. X-Men Origins: Wolverine gave us a hit of Daniel Henney, and pretty much everyone in possession of more than ten dollars went to see John Cho in Star Trek. Will the rest of the season let us represent? Here's my round-up of Asian/Americans behind and in front of the camera this summer

Asian American mystery 'Ghosts of the Heartland' opens in NYC

On May 22, New York City's Quad Cinema will begin screening Allen Blumberg's Ghosts of the Heartland, the tale of Chinese American reporter Roland Lu who returns to his hometown of Millville to blow the lid off of a racist, corrupt mayor's evil deeds during the McCarthy era. Leading the cast are Phil Moon from The Big Lebowski (he peed on The Dude's rug), and Roseanne Ma from HBO's Deadwood and Pan Asian Repertory Company (The Joy Luck Club, Rashomon).

SFIAAFF Kick-off and Japanese American film

It's already March which means you're all feverishly filling out NCAA brackets, prepping your livers for St. Patrick's Day, and of course, gearing up for the 27th Annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. SFIAAFF kicks off this Thursday, March 9 with its opening night screening of South Korea's My Dear Enemy at the Castro Theatre and a gala reception at the Asian Art Museum.

To whet your cinematic appetites, Hyphen will be posting reviews of some of the Asian American films screening at the festival, starting with a look at this year's Japanese American films below. Keep checking in to our blog all week for reviews of Korean, Chinese, Filipino, hapa, and South Asian American films. But don't just take our opinions as gospel. Treat yourself to a festival movie ticket or two and get exposed to some fine Asian/American cinema that you can't see everyday.

'Slumdog' Wins Best Picture Oscar (and a Whole Lot More)

As predicted, Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire won best picture at the 81st Annual Academy Awards. The Mumbai love story also won for best director, best adapted screenplay, best cinematography, best film editing, best original score, and best original song. If you didn't have the nearly four hours to spare to watch the ceremony, check out the complete list of winners.

Charlyne Yi Wins Sundance Screenwriting Award

The 2009 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up today and among its award recipients is Charlyne Yi, winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for the half-reality, half-fiction love tale Paper Heart.

The film, co-written with director Nicholas Jasenovec, follows 23-year-old Yi as she interviews a diverse group of couples and seeks advice on how to deal with her own love skepticism. The fictional element of the film kicks in when she meets and falls for actor Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad) --  rumored to be her real-life beau.

Zombies, Slashers, and White Gals at Third-i

As Neela announced, the Third-i International South Asian Film Festival starts this Thursday, November 13.

I got to screen two of the films early: horror road trip flick "Hell's Ground" from Pakistani director Omar Ali Khan and self-reflexive documentary "The Glow of White Women" by South African filmmaker Yunus Vally.

Mr. Obama is now Mr. President-Elect

Thumbnail image for 412px-BarackObama2005portrait.jpgIn case you've been living in a hole, the most historic U.S. presidential election and win went down last night. It's so historic, it made Rev. Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, and Sarah Palin weep on national television.

All jokes aside, I think few people can really articulate how powerful this moment is and what it means for a country beleaguered with economic, foreign policy, and morale woes such as ours. I am not one of those people, so I won't even try. I'll just encourage everyone to savor the afterglow, but not forget the propositions and measures we also voted for (and against) yesterday.

Currently, news outlets are reporting a lead for Proposition 8 which would ban same-sex marriages in the state of California. While a lot of Americans are feeling that the nation is making progress after the Obama win last night, this morning many Californians are dreading the possibility of a civil rights regression.

Votes are still being tallied, and my obsessive refreshing of news sites is giving me anxiety as I await the official results. I would hate to see this monumental election year marred by the passing of a discriminatory law.

"Shogun Macbeth" to hit Off-Broadway

From Broadway World, Pan Asian Repertory Theater kicks off their 32nd season next month with "Shogun MacBeth," which takes the Shakespearean classic (and its original verse) and transports it to 12th century Japan.

I can envision the "East Meets West" review headlines as we speak.

This concept does sound very interesting though, and I think it's a great way for AA actors to demonstrate their classical acting chops outside of traditional Shakespearean productions. And I always appreciate unique adaptations of Shakespeare because even as an English degree-holder, I fully admit that the plays in their original form don't exactly get my cauldron bubbling.

Jennifer Tang on Woody Allen and Race

Jennifer Tang wrote this really interesting piece on PopMatters about Woody Allen's "Asian problem."

For those of you who were mysteriously cut off from all forms of
media in the early '90s, heralded American filmmaker Allen created a bit
of controversy when he announced that he, at age 56, was in a
relationship with 22-year old Soon-Yi Previn.

Oh, and she happened to be the adopted Korean daughter of his
ex-lover Mia Farrow. It's that classic "old man-meets-woman his own
age-and then sleeps with woman's adopted Korean daughter" story.

Deerhoof's New Album 'Offend Maggie'

San Francisco-based indie rock band Deerhoof just released their new album "Offend Maggie" from the Kill Rock Stars label. Lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki sings in both English and Japanese and, according to this Entertainment Weekly review, "nearly every tune sports a hummable melody — many of them sublime — which makes this album one of the more accessible entries in Deerhoof's willfully strange catalog. It's music that'll set your head spinning without making it ache."

Check out the band's official website for tour dates and the "Ask Deerhoof" feature.

The video above is for their song "Chandelier Searchlight."

Jon & Kate Plus 8 in Good Housekeeping

If you do not think this cover is adorable, I believe you have no heart.
Via Just Jared, Jon and Kate Gosselin and their hapa brood are gracing the cover of this month's Good Housekeeping. The Gosselins are the subject of TLC's hit show "Jon & Kate Plus 8" which chronicles their lives as they raise a set of sextuplets and a pair of twins.

Time Magazine profiles MC Jin

Check out this quick Time magazine piece on Chinese American rapper MC Jin and the career move that took him to Hong Kong.

Jin is famous for his "106 and Park" freestyle battle winning streak, subsequent initiation into the Ruff Ryders crew, and the disappointing sales of his debut album "The Rest is History". The rapper's Cantonese language follow-up "ABC" — which chronicles his American-born Chinese experience — was released recently in Hong Kong.

MTV's Top Pop Group is Cheesy, but Empowering?

When MTV has a hit, they milk it for all it's worth. After two highly successful seasons of "America's Best Dance Crew," the cable channel has just launched a singing competition in the same vein: groups perform for a panel of young, urban judges (including Taboo from Black Eyed Peas and Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child) and America votes for MTV's Top Pop Group. It's "American Idol" but with singers in multiples of 3 or more. And yes, Mario Lopez is still there.

Harajuku Lovers Perfume Bottles Look Mighty Asian

BellaSugar just did a review of the new Harajuku Lovers Perfume line by Gwen Stefani. Before they go on to say that the perfume smells like arse and slightly burns the skin, they point out that the bottles—which are shaped into different zanily dressed Japanese Harajuku girls—are cute, despite Gwen's troublesome Asian fetish.


An Asian American 'Top Model'?

The inexplicable TV juggernaut and guilty pleasure (of which I am very guilty) known as "America's Next Top Model" will premiere its eleventh cycle on September 3rd with an actual Asian American gal in the running. The last AA contestant to appear on the show, Korean American Gina Choe, appeared 5 cycles ago back in 2006. She is best known as the chick that freaked out because she had to carry a hissing cockroach down the runway. Scroll to 5:04 on the video to refresh your memory:

Anniversary of the 'Macaca Incident'

From Raising Kaine via Wonkette, actor Kal Penn will host a DC-area event tonight to discuss the two-year anniversary of the "Macaca Incident". The incident involved Republican senator George Allen of Virginia calling Indian American S.R. Sidarth (a volunteer for Democratic opponent James Webb) a "macaca", which is a literally the name of a monkey found in Asia.

Calling all Funny Asian Americans

Aspiring comedians of color have until August 15 to submit headshots and resumes to CBS's fourth Multicultural Sketch Comedy Showcase, produced in association with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), American Indians in Film and Television, East West Players, Nosotros, SAG, and the Robey Theatre Company. The showcase will be directed by Rick Najera who has previously worked on "Mad TV" and "In Living Color."

Martin Bashir Likes his Journalists Asian and Babelicious

According to Gawker, Pakistani British journalist Martin Bashir, a correspondent for ABC's "Nightline" and "20/20" and the man infamous for his interviews with Princess Diana and Michael Jackson, regaled the audience at the Asian American Journalists Association's July 25 gala with this little nugget of wisdom from his keynote speech:

"'I'm happy to be in the midst of so many Asian babes,' he said onstage, with his 20/20 colleague Juju Chang nearby. 'In fact, I'm happy that the podium covers me from the waist down.' He then noted that a speech should be 'like a dress on a beautiful woman -- long enough to cover the important parts and short enough to keep your interest -- like my colleague Juju's.' ("See what I have to put up with?" she responded.)"