Saturday, May 12, 2012
Model Minority Myth Officially Shattered!
Then there are movies that punch you in the gut. In a good way. Movies that bare the truth of the human experience in a way that wakes us up, challenges our beliefs, and transforms the fundamental way we see the world.
Model Minority is one of those movies. Holy cow, this film left its mark on my soul, it was so incredible. I won't soon forget it.
It screened last night at LAAPFF. I bought tickets to support writer/director Lily Mariye, best known as a TV actor - she played nurse Lily Jarvik on ER for 15 seasons. We met judging a pitch competition together last year.
A little background - here's the model minority myth in a nutshell - Asian-Americans are stereotyped as highly educated, financially successful, and hard-working. And although that is true for some, it's not true for all.
Buried behind this myth are hard truths about the Asian-American experience - untreated mental illness, high unemployment rates, startlingly frequent domestic violence, etc. - countless statistics and stories that are unseen and ignored. Just take a look at this infogram from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) --
Model Minority, Lily's feature writing & directing debut, tells one of these unseen stories. Kayla (Nichole Bloom) is an underprivileged Japanese American 16 year old who endangers her promising future as an aspiring artist when she becomes involved with a drug dealer. We watch in horror and sympathy as she faces peer pressure, drug dealers, and bad parenting, making all the wrong choices along the way.
It's wonderfully painful to watch, mostly because Nichole Bloom's performance is aching with truth and authenticity. Opportunities are squandered, help is denied, and life seems to travel along an inevitable path for Kayla and her sister. It's really sad. And really compelling.
I couldn't wait to meet Nichole after the film and tell her how amazing she was. Any agent in town would be stupid not to sign her immediately. Here me and my friend Sharline with Nichole --
A huge congratulations to Lily for such an incredible achievement! Her first feature - stunning. Like I said, I won't soon forget it.
Model Minority is screening at LAAPFF again on Tuesday, May 15 at 9:15 pm. Don't miss it!