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.

Visual Communications' "V for Vuvuzela!" Short Film Series


You know, I've been an intern a few times in my life. I did things like fetch water for snooty publishing executives and once had to drive around town distributing promotional postcards for the movie Seasbiscuit (please, don't ask...).

One thing I sure as hell didn't get to do was curate a series of short films in the movie capital of the world. Such is the case for the lovely interns at Visual Communications who have selected a series of short films -- entitled "V for Vuvuzela!" -- to be screened at the David Henry Hwang Theatre in Los Angeles' Little Toyko as part of their Intern Screening Program.

Hyphen at "What Can You Do With Asian American Studies?"


Ah, yes. That eternal question: What can I do with an Asian American Studies degree?

As an Asian American Studies masters student, I ask myself that every day as I sustain myself on 90 cent Chinese buns and try to slog through chapters on intersectionality and heterogeneity. 'Tis a glamorous life.

But a bunch of cool folks at Claremont Graduate University -- specifically the CGU Transdisciplinary Studies Group on Asian American Studies -- decided to put together a free, one-day conference for students in the Asian American Studies field who want to know where they can take their knowledge when they hit the professional or academic path. It ain't a business degree, but that doesn't mean there aren't options for the Asian American Studies afterlife, particularly in academia, community/non-profit, and media.

2009 Movie Rewind

The year's most notable and notorious in Asian American film

WHETHER WE were at the multiplex watching Sulu, Spock and Kirk aboard the Enterprise or at one of several Asian American film festivals across the country, Asian American filmgoers had a pretty busy year. The best part? We didn’t have to endure another Rush Hour installment -- truly a blessing.

Here’s our wrap-up of Asian American films and roles that stood out, for better or for worse, in ’09.

Best Challenge to Film Maxims

Get to Know a Hyphen Blogger: Cynthia Brothers


This week, we're highlighting blogger Cynthia Brothers. You know Cynthia as our intrepid events blogger, the one who gives us the scoop on all the happening Asian American events happening across the nation and gets us to contemplate actually putting on a clean shirt and leaving the house to be social.

'Whatever It Takes' Premieres on PBS


PBS's Independent Lens series will be premiering Christopher Wong's 2009 documentary Whatever It Takes tomorrow, March 30 (Check the link for your local listings).

The filmmakers were kind enough to send Hyphen a screener of the film (which I sadly missed at 2009's SFIAAFF), and I definitely recommend catching it while it airs from tomorrow into early April.

3rd Annual ID Film Festival Call for Submissions


Are you a filmmaker that identifies as hapa/mixed or Asian/Pacific Islander? Do you want to submit your work to a festival that is not going to charge you an entry fee?

The latter was a silly question. If you're an indie filmmaker, we already know you're broke!

The Japanese American National Museum is accepting film and video submissions for their third annual ID Film Festival, set to take place October 7-10, 2010 at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum theater in downtown Los Angeles.

The SFIAAFF Diary of an Awkward Film Editor


The San Francisco Intrnational Asian American Film Festival kicked off this past Thursday, and as Hyphen's film editor, I was lucky enough to get on the press list (read: free admission!) to some screenings and events.

The awkward adolescent that lives inside me decided to document SFIAAFF opening weekend in my diary as I navigate clumsily through a refined cinematic event, filled with movers and shakers in the Asian American film community. I neither move nor shake and I believe my SFIAAFF 2010 recap accurately reflects that.

Get To Know A Hyphen Blogger: Catherine Shu

Here at Hyphen we're lucky enough to have a roster of bloggers who contribute their smarty-pants writing and help us maintain a strong online presence. As part of continuing efforts to develop the blog, we'll be highlighting our bloggers to give you a sense of who they are as people and as writers.

Many of them write on their own blogs such as our newest Hyphenite, Catherine Shu, who has been blogging at her own site Shu Flies since 2007. Her thoughtful writing on the Taiwanese American experience in Taiwan won her a 2009 Taiwan Best Blog award by her fellow English-language blog peers. She moved to Taipei in August 2007 to study Mandarin and now works as a features reporter at the Taipei Times, an English-language newspaper. Catherine will be blogging here a few times a month, covering culture, race, fashion and diaspora in addition to her work on Shu Flies. Get to know her and one of her previous posts below.

2010 SFIAAFF Reviews: 'The People I've Slept With' and 'Make Yourself At Home'

We at Hyphen look forward to the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival every year. Partly because it's a stylish, intelligent event celebrating Asian American artists and their supporters, but mostly because it means we get to screen some films early from home, in our sweatpants, and afterwards unleash our inner elitish film critic on the festival's offerings.

Visual Communications API Screenwriting Contest

Hey there, budding Asian Pacific Islander American screenwriters: dry those eyes, buck up, and dust off that short screenplay that's been sitting in your apartment. The good folks at Visual Communications are partnering up with the Writers Guild of America, West for the 2010 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Short Screenplay Competition, to promote API writers or writers who craft stories about the API community.

Keeping It in the Family

Most Dedicated Daughter:

O-Ren lshii - Kill Bill: Vol. 1

Posed as pedophile bait in order to avenge her parents' murders. What have you done for Mom and Dad lately?

Moodiest Cousin:

Han - Better Luck Tomorrow

Showed affection for cousin Virgil with four-letter expletives and a vicious beat-down with a belt. You don't always need to hug it out.

Most Twisted Sister:

Darcy/Charlotte Charlotte Sometimes

'The Oak Park Story' to premiere at SFIAAFF

The lovely folks at CAAM have released their line-up for the 28th annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, which means Bay Area folks should be prepping for 10 days of unadulterated Asian American viewing pleasure to tide them over until...well, probably July when
The Last Airbender
comes out. I kid.

If big budget productions based on cartoons ain't your bag and socially-conscious films are more your speed, you're in luck.

Making its world premiere at this year's SFIAAFF is The Oak Park Story, a documentary short that captures the lives of a predominantly Southeast Asian and Latino community in an East Bay slum.

Movie News: Post-Katrina Films, Up-and-Coming Indies, and the Kung Fu/Karate Conundrum

Let me tell you: Scouring the Hollywood trade websites for hints of Asian American presence is arduous and sometimes fruitless. But when you actually find Asian Americans to report on, it makes one feel gooey inside, no matter how obscure the news item.

So what's been going on in the movie biz?

Post-Katrina Film

PBS has picked up S. Leo Chiang's A Village Called Versailles for its Independent Lens series, set to premiere in May in conjunction with a series of community screenings across the country. The documentary chronicles the proactive rebuilding of Versailles, a predominantly Vietnamese American community in New Orleans, by its residents who battle with local government from building a toxic landfill near their newly restored homes. Visit the film's PBS page to find out when and where the film will screen in your 'hood. Also, check out Momo's review from 2008 as well as her observations on the lack of Asian American presence in Spike Lee's award-winning Katrina doc When the Levees Broke.

'White on Rice' and 'Children of Invention' Joint Theatrical Release

Thumbnail image for white_on_rice[1].jpg

This is a bit early, but if you've been waiting to see Asian American festival favorites White on Rice and/or Children of Invention on the big screen this spring, you're in luck. Both films are available on DVD, but getting these films into a theater proper makes more of a statement in terms of recognizing new Asian American cinema within the industry and allowing moviegoers to it. 

The films will be part of a double bill, debuting at the BIG Cinemas Manhattan in New York City on March 12, 2010 as part of a partnership between Variance Films and Big Cinemas .

Children of Invention will also simultaneously run at the Brattle Theater in Boston and at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles.

Learn more about the films here:

John Yoo Awkward on 'The Daily Show'

There have been some great moments in awkwardness in The Daily Show interview seats: Jim Cramer getting reamed by Jon Stewart, Mike Huckabee being reamed by Jon Stewart, Rod Blagojevich being reamed by Jon Stewart...

Last night, Jon tries to wrap his head around post-9/11 justifications for torture under the Bush Administration with the one and only John Yoo, aka author of the "Torture Memos."


Forget the Hollywood system, Asian American indie filmmakers are taking their movies to the masses via the Internet and sites like YouTube.

SO YOU'RE AN independent filmmaker. You've sunk your meager savings into your labor of love, you have no industry connections and your parents are wondering when you'll get a real job. What do you do with your finished project, not to mention your artistic dream?

Support the Campaign for Ethnic Studies

To our Bay Area readers: hope you'll be able to support the Campaign For Ethnic Studies' efforts to bring culturally- and community-relevant education to the diverse students of the San Francisco Unified School District. Show up to the SFUSD school board meeting Tuesday, January 12 at 5:00 pm.

Keep reading for pertinent info from the Campaign for Ethnic Studies:

'The Taqwacores' leads Asian representation at Sundance



Ah, Sundance. How I long to have the disposable income to fly to Park City, hit the slopes, strut around in my North Face jacket, and flash my festival pass to see which indie films studios will be bidding for in order to maintain some shred of artistic credibility.

But maybe I'm not too bummed out about not going this year, as there aren't too many Asian faces in front of or behind camera at the Sundance Film Festival, kicking off January 21.

Alexander Sebastien Lee's 'The Real Shaolin' on DVD

Alexander Sebastien Lee's engrossing debut documentary The Real Shaolin removes the glossy Hollywood veneer from the ancient martial art of kung fu and highlights the lives of four students living and training at the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province, China.

The film follows 9-year-old Yuan Peng, an orphan who's left in the care of monks; Orion, an American teenager who comes to China for serious training; Zhu, the son of poor farmers who wants to use his Sanda skills (a Kung Fu sport similar to kickboxing) as a means to a career; and Eric, a Frenchman eager to learn the secrets of Kung Fu but is growing impatient at the wait.

Mash-up of 'Up' and 'Gran Torino' Trailers = Pure Genius

Since we know you're online all the time, you've probably had this epic viral video come your way sometime in the past week. A USC film school grad Daniel, a.k.a. Danfish42 on his YouTube channel, has taken the audio from Clint Eastwod's Gran Torino trailer and matched it with scenes from Pixar's summer hit Up. Curmudgeonly old white man? Check. Young Asian boy that teaches him to love again? Double check!

Songs in the Key of Racism

Over at PopMatters, writer Michael Landweber asks the Interwebs and its masses: "Is 'Glee' a Little Bit Racist?"

I'm a little confused as to why he targets one show, when essentially he's talking about a larger systemic problem of underrepresentation of people of color and LGBTQ and differently-abled folks. I mean, we could have this debate about every single TV show currently on the air. Theoretically, we could blast every medical drama that has featured an Asian doctor. "What, you're calling all of us smart?!"

Don't get me wrong. I agree with Landweber in that I would love to see more Tina, Mercedes, Santana, Matt, and especially Mike "Other Asian" Chang. However, he's suggesting that once they have equal billing, that shazam, everything's fine. That racism is simply a matter of under-representation. And I'm not sure if he's aware, but racism is a little more complex than that. In fact, it's insulting to people who actually suffer from a racist system to complain about why your guilty pleasure of a show is making you feel kind of icky inside.

Documentary 'The Recess Ends' Gets Folks Talking About the Recession

Since the recession hit, much attention has been focused on banks, politicians, economists, and the myriad of theories on what sunk us and what will lift us out. In their documentary The Recess Ends, filmmaking brothers Austin and Brian Chu look at the recession through a revolutionary lens: a human one.

Third I South Asian Film Festival


On Thursday, November 5, the Third I South Asian Film Festival officially kicks off bringing four days of South Asian films and filmmakers from around the globe to San Francisco. Hyphen will be reviewing some of the films screening this year (starting with today's review of Avie Luthra's Mad, Sad & Bad below) throughout the week as well as posting an interview with Tariq Tapa, director of Zero Bridge.

'The Things We Carry' at SDAFF


Now, if there's one thing I haven't seen a cinematic representation of, it'd have to be a crackhead Korean mama. In fact, I can't recall seeing a modern day Asian American character as a drug addict (not opium addicted or trafficking drugs) in recent memory. In Ian McCrudden's The Things We Carry, Korean American actress Alyssa Lobit (also a co-writer with sister Athena Lobit) stars as Emeline Roberts, a daughter long estranged from her drug-addicted Korean mother Sunny (Alexis Rhee) and who, along with her sister Eve (Catherine Kresge), struggles to find peace with her death.

Chris Rock's 'Good Hair,' So-Called Bad Hair, and the Korean American Connection


On October 23, Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair will bring to the mainstream a world where what is natural is relaxed, permed, and given a weave in order to fit the socially constructed "good" model of beauty and the booming haircare industry that profits from it all.

Asianspotting: The New Fall TV Season

Though Friday is usually associated with movie nights, I thought I'd do an Asian American TV round-up instead. You can still make it to the theater to catch James Kyson Lee and Lynn Chen in White on Rice. Or if you're desperate, you can go see Jamie Chung get slashed in Sorority Row. Or if you're really desperate, you can see Megan Fox as a demon in Karyn (remember how good Girlfight was?) Kusama's Jennifer's Body.

But otherwise, I thought I'd get you up to speed on what's playing on the boob tube. Believe it or not, network TV execs like to employ Asian Americans from time to time! Maybe "like" is a strong word. But this fall we see some Asian representation in the returning shows and hopeful pilots pleading for our viewership and hoping to avoid the axe.