Youth ‘n’ Asia (Just Shoot Me!)

These film and video shorts compiled for the Asian American Showcase highlight young artists, most of them recent film school graduates. The good news here is that it’s impossible to pigeonhole these selections; if anything, each reflects the sensibility of the filmmaker’s region and schooling. Of the longer narrative shorts Perry Lin’s 17 Years to Earth shows most imaginatively and poignantly the predicaments of growing up Asian in America: on the sound track a young woman reads diary entries dating from adolescence through her college years, but the home-movie footage we see tells a different story. She confides how popular she is with the neighborhood kids but on-screen cowers from their cruel mockeries; she insists that she’s not in love with her Asian boyfriend but on-screen shares tender moments with him in bed. The disjunction between reality and delusion is ironic and unsettling; it speaks volumes about wanting to belong yet retaining a sense of self-identity. Ayana Osada’s Love Story is an enigmatic meditation on strangers in a strange land. Three immigrants fulfill one another’s emotional yearnings while stranded in New York City, the film’s black-and-white visuals, luminous and heavy on optical effects, casting an innocent spell reminiscent of early silents. Greg Seton’s Nonfat, a broad comedy about two Korean valets who unwittingly disrupt a Beverly Hills bash, fails to play up the class differences and resorts to a pat ending, yet some of its scenes are nicely choreographed for laughs, making it a decent resume for Hollywood studios. Of the videos, Escapades of the One Particular Mr. Noodle by Toronto video jockey Sook-Yin Lee is a find: Lee knows how to milk self-deprecating humor from her Vancouver Chinatown upbringing. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, March 22, 3:30, 312-443-3737. –Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Nonfat film still.