New American Filmmakers
2010 Hawaii International Film Festival
Hossein Keshavarz, Director
An alumnus of Columbia’s MFA in Film program, Hossein Keshavarz is an Iranian-born filmmaker who currently resides in Brooklyn. He previously served as an associate producer on his sister’s debut feature, Circumstance, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Though Keshavarz moved to America when he was very young, beginning at age 18, he spent his summers in Iran. He was inspired by the energy of Tehran’s vibrant youth culture, and its contradiction to the country’s totalitarian theocracy, to make the NAF selection film Dog Sweat.
Invoking the subversive urgency of cinéma vérité, filmmaker Hossein Keshavarz interweaves the lives of seven young people in contemporary Iran. Misunderstood by their families and oppressed by conservative Islamic society, they act out their personal desires behind closed doors. A feminist finds herself in an affair with a married man; new lovers search for a place to be physically intimate; a gay man is pressured to leave his partner for an arranged marriage; a female pop singer risks exposure; and a grief-stricken son lashes out at fundamentalists.
Keshavarz’s film debut is certain to trigger conversation about the contradictions brewing within contemporary Iran, where two-thirds of the population are under 30. This covert society, forced to operate without government sanctions, is bravely brought into the sunlight by Dog Sweat, which displays a side of Iranian life virtually unseen by the outside world. Shot clandestinely in Tehran — a risky endeavor for the cast and crew — this provocative film provides the new generation of Iranians a fervent voice of rebellion. –Johnathan Wysocki, Los Angeles Film Festival
In-Ah Lee, Producer
Born and educated in Hamburg, Germany, In-Ah Lee received her start in the film and television industry directing and producing long-form interviews and documentary features for Spiegel TV. As her career advanced, she eventually became a production executive at Reverse Angle Productions, which is owned by the influential German filmmaker Wim Wenders. She has produced several features directed by Wenders, including Don’t Come Knocking and The Land of Pi, and the NAF selection film Au Revoir Taipei.
Au Revoir Taipei
After his girlfriend leaves for Paris, lovelorn Kai (Jack Yao) spends his waking hours studying French in a local bookstore where he meets Susie (Amber Kuo), a worker who takes an interest in him. When an opportunity to travel to Paris to surprise his girlfriend arises, Kai, Susie, and his best friend Gao become entangled in a whirlwind night around Taipei filled with intrigue and adventure. It is both an ode to the sights and sounds of the city famous for its night markets and vibrant culture as well as a brilliantly crafted romantic comedy in which we learn that sometimes the thing we have been searching for all along is right in front of us.
Coupled with a jazzy score, Au Revoir Taipei’s delightful visual style has been capturing the hearts of audiences and critics worldwide including winning the NETPAC award for best Asian film at the Berlin International Film Festival. –Bryant Murakami, Hawaii International Film Festival
Lisa Lu, Actress
Lisa Lu is Chinese-American actor who has worked in the film and television industry for almost 60 years. She began her acting career as a teenager, performing in Kunqu (a form of traditional Chinese opera), before immigrating to America. In 1958 she had her first role as Miss Mandarin in the short-lived American Western series Yancy Derringer. Since then, she has worked consistently, amassing 81 credits as an actor, and winning three Golden Horse awards (Taiwan’s equivalent to the Academy Award). Some of her most notable roles include performances in The Last Emperor, The Joy Luck Club, and 2012. She is the lead in the NAF selection film Apart Together.
After 50 years of separation, Lui Yanshang returns to Shanghai to look for Qiao Yu'e, the love of his life. During a meeting he has arranged via letter, he quickly realizes that Qiao Yu'e, who has started a family with an officer in the People’s Liberation Army, is still in love with him. It’s not hard for Liu to persuade his former partner to go back with him to Taiwan. He hopes that by promising to leave his entire savings to her husband and their children, he will be able to secure the family’s agreement. But his proposal gives rise to a huge outcry in the family. The situation between the two lovers seems impossible to overcome — until an unexpected incident occurs.
Miao Wang, Director
Born in Beijing, Miao Wang immigrated to the United States in 1990. After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 1999, she moved to New York City to pursue her passion for the visual arts. While completing an MFA at Parsons the New School of Design, she began work on her first documentary, Yellow Ox Mountain. The film screened at more than 15 film festivals worldwide and received the Best Short Film Award at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas. Wang’s first feature-length documentary, Beijing Taxi, premiered at SXSW and is a NAF selection.
Beijing Taxi vividly portrays modern-day China through a humanistic lens, documenting a profound transformation in an era of Olympic transitions. Through stunning imagery of Beijing and a contemporary score rich in atmosphere, the intimate lives of three Beijingers connect a morphing cityscape and a lyrical journey through fragments of a society riding a bumpy road to modernization. –Argot Pictures
New American Filmmaker Interviews
The 2015 NAF selections included films from various genres and regions of the world, including a documentary filmed in North Korea, a 1980s-style teen comedy, and an action thriller set in the jungles of Colombia.
Watch video interviews as the NAF delegates discuss feminism, activism, and the 80s!
Zoë Bell >