I had the pleasure of moderating the Q&A for Miss India America at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival! Miss India America delivers a rarely seen coming-of-age story in which a fiercely ambitious young Indian American girl named Lily Prasad competes for the title of Miss India America. Set in the backdrop of SoCal suburbia, the film channels many rom-com elements reminiscent of many contemporary Hollywood productions while infusing traditionally Indian standards of beauty as well as culturally-specific notions of success. I feel so fortunate to have moderated this Q&A where the director, Ravi Kapoor, Writer and actress Meera Simhan, Actress Anushka Rani, Producers Megha Kadakia and Saurabh Kikani, Editor Varun Viswanath, and Sound Mixer Caleb Mose were in attendance! Check it out!



Thank you Arshad for filming this!
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OMG!!! IT'S HERE!! Sean Baker's Tangerine made behemoth waves at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year with its riotous LA story about a transgender prostitute on a rampage to find her pimp that broke her heart. Not only did this particular story showcase a different side of Los Angeles never seen on screen before but audible gasps seared through the audiences when Baker revealed that the entire film was shot on iPhone 5s! I loved Tangerine so much that I had named it one of the best films I had seen at Sundance and even went so far as to inspire me to shoot my own vlog of the festival all on my iPhone as well. I feel like I have been fiending to see a trailer of the film for so long that the sheer notion of its arrival has me all jacked up on adrenaline!



Sean Baker is truly on another level especially with his own distinct filmmaking style and stories that dares to go where no filmmaker has gone before to bring the humanity and heart in the most unlikeliest places. Tangerine is a ferocious monster that will rip you another asshole all while you're dying from it's uproarious humor! This trailer is everything I wanted and more to show the maddening and bat-shit crazy shit show that's about to go down! Also the fucking music!!! Can we also take a moment of silence and just gaze at this gorgeous poster? I've been swooning over its romantic yet throwback feel to the 80's that has been all gushing left and right especially to the magical tunes of Dev Hynes. I seriously cannot wait to see Tangerine again on the big screen once it hits theaters on July 10th! Better hold on to your panties, it's going to be a wild one!

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Netflix is quickly becoming my go-to when it comes to its roster of sensational and eye-opening documentaries so it's no surprise that they already snagged Oscar-nominated director, Liz Garbus' latest project, What Happened, Miss Simone?. The film premiered the first night at Sundance Film Festival this past year and I heard it was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. I don't know much about Nina Simone besides that fact that she sang Feeling Good and numerous other unforgettable hits. But the doc explores the life and career of the legendary recording artist, looking at her musical genius, inner demons, and spectacular career. 



Having watched numerous music documentaries about artists, it's always fascinating to see the "real" person behind the iconic persona. Classically trained pianist, black power idol, and a legendary artist, Nina Simone lived a life like many musicians do in the limelight as a tortured soul. Using never-before-heard tapes, rare archival footage, and interviews with close friends and family, What Happened, Miss Simone? highlights the brutal honesty behind a woman whose figure and talents influenced a whole generation of music and musicians alike. The documentary will hit Netflix on June 26th and I can't wait! 

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Badass Femmes is a bi-weekly column that I write on Crome Yellow about all the Badass Females in pop culture that has shaped my life.

Looking back at the most iconic high school teen flicks, the one quality that shines the most is the idea of dedication and loyalty. In high school, my best friend and I would pig out on Hot Cheetos, watch Romy and Michele and banter about the day we would attend our high school reunion to show up all the shitty kids that tormented us. We were a iconic duo and she was the Michele to my Romy. As a pair, Romy and Michele were the perfect reflection of our intensely strong bond to each other, a powerful reminder that friendships outlast high school and get us through the most awkward times of our lives.

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Year: 2015
Director: Frédéric Tcheng
WriterFrédéric Tcheng
Cinematographer: Gilles Piquard
Cast: Raf Simons
Country of Origin: France
Rating: NR
Time: 90 mins.



I've yet to have Arshad on my channel so when it came down to deciding who would want to watch Dior and I with me, he immediately came to mind as one of my few friends who is just as passionate about fashion and film as I am!  Frédéric Tcheng's sophomore feature film yet again dives into the world of Fashion and this time to show the behind the scenes of the iconic and colossal fashion brand, Dior. Raf Simons who is known for his minimalist style and for being the former creative director of Jil Sanders, embarks on an ambitious and tremendous task of taking over Dior as their creative director. With just eight measly weeks to create his first collection of dresses and suits, Tcheng takes us on an emotional and personal journey of the inter-workings of one of the biggest fashion brands in the world. 



Daphne Merkin of Elle Magazine said Dior and I was "simply the best movie about fashion I've seen!" And before you think that is an over-statement, just watch the trailer to get a glimpse of what is in store for you. Exceptionally constructed and directed, this story goes beyond the superficial glitz and glam of the fashion world to show an universal and intimate story about Raf Simons, the seamstresses, the models, and even Christian Dior himself that emotionally resonants with everyone. Arshad and I are madly in love with this film not only for its breathtaking visuals but for showcasing a truly inspiring and humanistic story about dreaming and achieving your wildest dreams. 

See the full spectacular runway show. 


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The Cannes Film Festival line-up came out earlier this week and guess who is on the insane roster?! None other than extraordinary talented auteur, Matteo Garrone who has done one of my favorite films which is the naturalistically shot crime story, Gomorrah and the satirical reality show-based film, Reality. Drawing inspirations from the 17th-century fairytale collection The Tale of Tales, compiled by Giambattista Basile, the film is a feast for my salivating eyes that mixes the real and the unreal mystical land of the fables. Starring American and International talent like Salma Hayek, John C Reilly, Vincent Cassel, the film is delectably pleasing with its sinister and odd aesthetics that feels like a fairy tale set in a the dark underworld. It is bound to freak you out or make you all giddy inside!



The Tale of Tales is Garrone's first English-language film and had been selected to competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival with other heavy hitters like Jia Zhang-ke, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Jacques Audiard, and so much more! Even though Garrone is known for his naturalistic style, he has always had a fondness for incorporating fairytale-like aspects to his films as seen in Reality and now, in The Tales of Tales. This film looks absolutely insane in its intricate production design, ominous and grim storytelling, and ethereal characters. The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 13-24, so I guess we should just impatiently wait till what the critics have to say. But I'm sure we all know what the film is going to be like: absolute bonkers!

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If you haven't heard of The Human Centipede by now,  you are the lucky few whose eyes weren't forever burned from the atrocities of these films! Tom Six's The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) is coming at cha bigger and longer than ever before! Bully prison warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) leads a big state prison in the USA which statistically has the highest amount of prison riots, medical costs, and staff turnover in the country. In order to shape up the infrastructure, his loyal right hand man proposes an idea inspired by the 'Human Centipede' movies. To create the ultimate punishment and deterrent for any criminals, they will create a jaw-dropping 500-person prison centipede. That premise seems too ridiculous to be true but you have to see the trailer to believe it! It is quite a FEAST for the eyes! The film comes out May 22, my birthday! What a great birthday present, don't you think?!

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Year: 2015
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chris Morgan & Cary Scott Thompson (Characters)
Cinematographer: Marc Spicer & Stephen F. Windon
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel
Country of Origin: USA/Japan
Rating: PG-13
Time: 137 min.



James Wan takes over Justin Lin as director of the Fast & the Furious franchise and with Furious 7, he does the series some serious justice. There may have been skepticism for Wan as he makes a huge transition from Horror to Action films but he utilized what he learned from Death Sentence and basic rules of storytelling to bring Furious 7 another level of emotional weight that haven't been seen in the previous films. With Wan's taste for theatrics, the emotions, the stunts, and camera movement are bigger and badder than ever before! And with very little CGI, it's incredible see these stunts come alive, really shoved in yo face! 



As you know Paul Walker passed away during the production and I'm so glad that Wan decided to turn Furious 7 into a heart-felt tribute instead of killing him off like how most vicious Hollywood heads would've done. It was done in a very tasteful and poignant way that preserves Walkers legacy in the franchise. I couldn't help but bawl at the very end when Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth's song "See You Again" came on which didn't leave a dry eye in the audience! It kind of sucks to know that they won't leave the Fast franchise  as is considering how much money they made and probably will consider creating a spin-off of sorts. And as much as I'm part of the problem, I am forever dedicated to the series so bring it!

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Badass Femmes is a bi-weekly column that I write on Crome Yellow about all the Badass Females in pop culture that has shaped my life.


Cat-calling, being forced to smile or unwanted advances are just a few of the unavoidable, shitty things that happen to women on a daily basis. Some might argue a few of these as flattering, but in the eyes of a woman, most are the unwanted perks of living in an overwhelmingly sexist environment. In times like these, I ask myself, “What Would Lisbeth Salander Do (WWLSD)? As one of the most influential and powerful female characters in pop culture (at least in my eyes), the Swedish Millennium Series’ Lisbeth defies all conventions in societal beauty, behavior and status quo when it comes to being a woman. When I first watched the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was enamored by her uncompromising attitude towards a world that offered her no favors. Through her sharp temperament and cool demeanor, Lisbeth is a Badass Femme that urges women and men all over the world to never hide who they are to themselves and others, a survivor in every definition of the term.

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I'm baaaaccckkk! The trailer to Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's Sundance hit film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is finally out! This film sold for a record-breaking 12 million dollars in a brutal bidding war that finally ended with Fox Searchlight winning the gold! The film won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance and critics and audiences alike have been talking my ear off about it! And considering that this is one of the few films that I did not get to catch at Sundance, I am expecting a lot from hearing all this hype! The film is about a teenage filmmaker who befriends a classmate with cancer. It sounds pretty much like The Fault in Our Stars that came out last year but seeing the trailer now, there is a dash of Wes Anderson + Noah Baumbach feel to the film. With the hipster whimsy comes a pinch of real-life cynicism that plays into this kind of story that seems to be more complex and layered than your average young adult films. Regardless of anything you see in the trailer, I'm expecting to be blown away! Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes out June 12, 2015!

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I have no idea how I heard about this film but I can't stop thinking about it! Victoria is a German film by actor turned filmmaker, Sebastian Schipper that premiered at this year's Berlinale Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for Cinematography. For the film to receive that award makes sense considering how Victoria was completely shot in a SINGLE TAKE! It's none of that fake Birdman stunts but wholly kinetic and frenetic experience that needs to be seen especially in theaters! Victoria is about a Spanish runaway party girl who meets three friendly men on her night out on the town. Their wild night of partying quickly turns into a criminal adventure. That premise alone is enough to get me to watch but wait till you see the footage below!



The film was shot in one single long take by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen from 4:30 to 7:00, across 22 locations, in the Friedrichstadt neighborhood with the script consisting of merely twelve pages while the rest of the dialogued was improvised. That is truly impressive filmmaking at it's best! It's made it's festival rounds around the world and even debuted in America at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival but I CANNOT WAIT to see when this film is released in LA. I'm a total sucker for cinema verite style filmmaking, especially in the form of long takes! With the story consisting of late night debauchery of crime, drugs, booze and with a female lead, sign me right up! Till it comes out, I'll just be here cracking my knuckles and impatiently waiting.

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UPDATED: 4/20/15

I had the immense privilege in partaking in the programming of the largest and most renowned Asian American Film Festival in the world based right here in Los Angeles! The 31st Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival kicks off on April 23 to the 30th showcasing the best cinema that Asian and Asian Americans have to offer! It feels awesome to see so many talented people come together to support minority filmmakers, actors, content creators, and much more! I had made some suggestions on the LAAPFF website but there are way too many films that need to be seen that I really did not want to restrict myself to just two! Obviously, every one of these films are worthy of viewing but here are a list of films that continue to contribute to the forward-thinking, edgy, and bold voices in the landscape of Asian and Asian American cinema! 

There are so many films to suggest so instead of blabbing on and on about why I love these films, I'll let the trailers do all the talking! Shall we?

Tour de Force Performance ---> MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW




Intimate & Powerful story about the Unlikely ---> TWINSTERS




Good ol' Broming of Age in K-town ---> KTOWN COWBOYS




One Word: Donnie Yen ---> KUNG FU KILLER




Refreshing & Emotionally Bold Sci-fi & Social Commentary ---> ADVANTAGEOUS




Hilarious & Fierce Take about Being #1 ---> MISS INDIA AMERICA



An Important & Harrowing Look at China---> THE CHINESE MAYOR




Super Kawaii & Badass Mystery Story ---> THE WORLD OF KANAKO




No One Does Romance Like Wong-Fu ---> EVERYTHING BEFORE US




XXXTreme Teen Spirit + Girl Power ---> TOP SPIN




Breathtaking Cinematography in Futuristic Vietnam ---> 2030



The One Documentary S. Korea Didn't Want You to See ---> THE TRUTH WILL NOT SINK WITH SEWOL



There are also other films like (Sex) Appeal that I definitely got to see! Just because I didn't list other films doesn't mean I don't recommend them but these are the top films that resonated with me the most. There are so many films that will cater to every audience whether it is the LOL bromedy, Man Up starring Justin Chon and Kevin Wu or a story of a former Yazuka who decides to change his life and help other outcasts in June Bride: Redemption of a Yazuka, or the ever so relevant subject of gentrification that is plaguing numerous places including Chinatown, Vancouver as seen in Everything Will Be

No matter what you decide to see, it is most definite that you will leave very pleased at your selections! So come through to Little Tokyo, Koreatown, or Hollywood to see these! & if you do see me, don't forget to say HIIIIIIIIIII!

P.S. Turns out I'm doing the intro and Q&A for Twinsters, Top Spin, Miss Indian America, and 2030 so come by!!!
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You already know I'm about that LA LYFE! So the tale of one of hip-hop's notorious groups N.W.A. (Niggaz with Attitude), growing up in the mid-1980s on the streets of Compton, California is definitely a story I'm excited to see! Following the monumental rise and fall of N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton tells the meteoric story of how these young men revolutionized music and pop culture forever when they told the brutal truth about the life in the hood that ignited a cultural war. O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell star in this film directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job).



We already got a little taste of what to expect when the Red Band trailer came out last month which had an introduction by none other than Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. The mini doc gave us an sneak peek into how they grew up with even a word or two from my favorite, Kendrick Lamar. Not only does it chronicle their dangerous environment and the injustice that comes with being Black but the trailer touches on the LA riots that entirely changed the ethnic landscape of Los Angeles. Naturally, I am excited to see this because it doesn't seem like they're sugar-coating any of the bullshit that comes with being a Black Male, the dire times in the 80's, the grueling downfalls of fame, and just the unique perspective of the colossal influence and life of the N.W.A.! I'll be camping out in my lawn chair for this one come August 14th!

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Year: 2015
Director: Robert Schewentke
Writer: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback
Cinematographer: Florian Ballhaus
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet, Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Jai Courtney, Mekhi Phifer, Naomi Watts
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: PG-13
Time: 119 min.



Arshad and I are continuing our love of YA franchises with another full review of the  second installment of Divergent which is Insurgent. I had not read any of the books and Arshad is a huge fan of the novels and so it was incredibly surprising that our opinion of Insurgent were exactly the same: not good! Not only do we rip Insurgent another asshole but we dive in even deeper to discuss the core of the film's problems. The whole crew is back along with a few special and notable faces that really elevates the film's status to almost The Hunger Games level but obviously not quite. And what THG excel at, the Divergent series sadly falter under the plain filmmaking 101: develop your characters. As much as I would like to think that I won't continue supporting this franchise, Shailene Woodley's impeccable and ability to cry a single fat tear endlessly impresses me. And for that, I will most likely watch the series till the end. 


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I had named Rick Famuyiwa's Dope as one of my most anticipated films to see at Sundance Film Festival. Needless to say, it was DOPE (obvi)! I had a hell of a great time watching Famuyiwa's personal take on his experience growing up in Inglewood come alive with such vibrance, swag, and hilarity! It follows the story of a modern-day nerd named Malcolm (played by super hot newcomer, Shameik Moore) who's obsessed with 90's hip-hop culture and all the crazy shit he gets himself into. As a LA native, it hit me with all the right kind of feels of 90's throwback,  socal sun-kissed terrain, and poignant reflection of not being "racially-something" enough. 

Unlike most trailers that have been released, Famuyiwa takes a different and refreshing approach to the first trailer of Dope, which embodies what he calls "a throwback to traditional teasers." He wanted the trailer to look like something Malcolm had cut and pasted the trailer himself and the results are so so so fresh! Mixing animation, social media interfaces, and 8-bit video game tib-bits from the film, the trailer shows you just enough of how freaking dope this film is going to be! You've never seen a story like this before that honed in on the African American experience with such nuance,  provocative energy, and explosive style with a millennial sensibility. So get hypy! Dope comes out June 19th!


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Year: 2015
Director: Ari Sandel
Writer: Josh A. Cagan (screenplay), Kody Keplinger (novel)
Cinematographer: David Hennings
Cast: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Ken Jeong, Romany Malco, Allison Janney
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: PG-13
Time: 101 min.


Arshad and I are back to discuss the latest and hottest teen comedy, The Duff starring Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell. Adapted by the wildly popular YA novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger about an intelligent teenager named Bianca (Whitman) who realizes she is the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) of her group when the jock and her neighbor, Wesley, informs her of this fact. At first, I was like why the hell would I want to watch a teen comedy (which is so rare these days) about being labeled as something conventionally "undesirable." But my film critic friend, the fantastic Inkoo Kang shouted on top of the social media mountains that this film is one of the best teen comedies to come out as of late and even going so far as stating that The Duff is this generation's Mean Girls! That is a huge statement Inkoo! But I was not disappointed! Watch what Arshad and I have to say about the film! 



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GUYS. GUYS. GUYS! Talking about you guys, not the guys in the trailer. Although, my ovaries are on fire right now from all smokin' hot guys in the Magic Mike XXL trailer! That was seriously the most amazing minute of my life. They took all the important (& necessary) aspects of the first Magic Mike like Ginuwine's Pony, Channing Tatum's break dancing abilities, and rock hard abs from various smokin'  men for this new film and I could not be happier! The whole crew is back from Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello and some new super thrilling additions like Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, and Amber Heard! This summer just got infinitely hotter and I'm hoping we learn from the (possible) success of Fifty Shades of Grey that there is a huge and obviously, profitable market for women in cinema. Basically, just give us what we want like more dicks on screens and we all win! Magic Mike XXL comes out July 1st! Till then, I'm going to go watch this trailer till my own Channing Tatum comes along. 


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YO! I am back full throttle with my Sundance vlog and this is a real good one! I had the pleasure of going to my first ever Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and it was everything I had expected and more. The combination of the freezing cold, sleepless nights, and lack of warm food really made me feel like I was a wild chicken running around with my head cut off but it was all part of the great experience! I did not go to as many swanky parties but you bet your ass that I got to watch tons of mind-blowing, forward-thinking, and super duper fresh films! I cannot wait for all these films to come out so you can just gorge on the next level of beauty and innovativeness these films have to offer! And in tribute to Sean Baker's Tangerine which was wholly shot on the iPhone 5s (GASP!), I decided to shoot my entire vlog on my iPhone! So LEGGO!

Top 5 Films: (See full post)

Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Dir. Chloé Zhao)
Tangerine (Dir. Sean Baker)
Pervert Park (Dir. Frida & Lasse Barkfors)
The Witch (Dir. Robert Eggers)
The Wolfpack (Dir. Crystal Moselle)

The Nightmare (Dir. Rodney Ascher) A-
Partisan (Dir. Ariel Kleiman) B-
Results (Dir. Andrew Bujalski) C
Welcome to Leith (Dir. Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker) A
Dope (Dir. Rick Famuyiwa) B+
Turbo Kid (Dir. Francois Simard & Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissel) B+
Hot Girls Wanted (Dir. Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus) C
James White (Dir. Josh Mond) A
Seoul Searching (Dir. Benson Lee) B+
Knock Knock (Dir. Eli Roth) B+
In Football We Trust (Dir. Tony Vainuku & Erika Cohn) (See Review
The Chinese Mayor (Dir. Hao Zhou) A
City of Gold (Dir. Laura Gabbert) A



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Ya gurl is back from her first ever Sundance and what a thrilling/cold/intense film festival it was! I managed to watch 18 films in the short period I was there running around through the blaring cold with basically my head cut off to every bus shuttle, screening, and party! Scratch the parties, my trip to Sundance was strictly all about the films and what a glorious selection of films I got to watch! Considering that it is Sundance, the standard (& my expectations) of films are always A++, top notch, cream of the crop kind of films and duh, I was not disappointed! There are plenty of films I did not catch but from the batch that I did, here are the 5 best films at Sundance! 


Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Dir. Chloé Zhao)

Chloé Zhao's directorial debut feature Songs My Brothers Taught Me was the biggest surprise of the festival! The film had only been on my radar because I saw that every film organization from Film Independent to IFP were huge supporters of her and so I thought why not check it out. I had no expectations of what the premise was about but was wholly blown away by the potently poetic and emotionally enveloping low-key portrait of the life on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Without having any pre-conceived notion about Native Americans and the culture, the film gave a sneak peek into their usually reserved lives with sweeping beauty and sincerity. With it's simple narrative, the naturalistic performances and painstakingly intimate bond between a brother and sister brought more emotional feels within me than I had ever expected. 


Tangerine (Dir. Sean Baker)

Sean Baker's Tangerine has been on my hot list ever since I heard it was going to play Sundance and as much as I hyped it up to unparalleled heights, it surpassed everything I expected and beyond! Baker shocked audiences and critics alike when he revealed that the entire film was shot on iPhone 5s and that mind-blowing attribute is just scratching the surface as to why Baker is the visionary filmmaker that he is! Utilizing first-time transgender actresses and on-location shooting on the nitty-gritty streets of Los Angeles, specifically, Sunset Boulevard--he tells one of the most authentic and heartfelt stories about female friendship following two prostitutes, Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) as they ravage the streets of LA in search of Sin-Dee's cheating pimp! Tangerine is a ferocious monster that is told with belly-aching hilarity and irresistibly trashy flair that will gobble you alive and spit you back out! It is bound to be one of the best films of 2015! I guarantee it!


The Wolfpack (Dir. Crystal Moselle)

Hands down, The Wolfpack is the most fascinating documentary to come out of Sundance this year, that'll leave you endlessly intrigued all while being freaked the fuck out. Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch. Through the span of four years, Moselle highlights the Angulo brother's lives with unfettered access into their strange situation of being a prisoner in their own home and their eventual progression into society. Their story is told with mesmerizing intimacy and warmth and yet, the underlining fear of unspoken mysteries looming within their family is surely to haunt you for days. In the end, it is the brothers' spunky and die-hard love for cinema that captures our hearts like shown here, a video of them re-enacting word for word their favorite films


Pervert Park (Dir. Frida & Lasse Barkfors)

Pervert Park is just as brutally tramautizing and tragic as the title sounds. As part of Florida Justice Transitions, a group of sex offenders reside in the run-down trailer park to try to re-integrate into society. In pure observational fashion, Frida and Lasse Barkfors' offers a unbiased look at these sex offenders who confront and reflect on their crimes that have forever brandished themselves as outcasts. These handful of sex offenders share their personal stories of their crimes that range from "simple" mistakes to heinous crimes that all fall under the same umbrella as a sex offender no matter how little or extreme their crime is. Through brazen access, Pervert Park paints the troubling portrait of abuse, injustice, and stigma in America as a sex offender that is equally eye-opening as it is ungodly disturbing.


The Witch (Dir. Robert Eggers)

Robert Eggers' directorial debut film The Witch is a exquisite work of horror unlike anything I have seen in recent years and dare I say, a masterpiece. Seasoned as a production designer, Egger delivers his first film like a veteran auteur with hyper-detailed visual style akin to Kubrick about a colonial family whose superstitions are taken to maddening lengths when one of their family member goes missing. Eggers expertly creates a terrifying new standard of horror with stark historical realism that builds on a family's suffocating anxieties and fears. I almost passed up on this film because I did not want to watch a Salem-esque story about a boring family but good thing I didn't! There's no denying the meticulously daunting world that Egger has built from literally ground up that rides on the screams of human misery. Bonus points: they revived my love for witches again!

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Year: 2015
Director: Tony Vainuku & Erika Cohn
Cast: Harvey Langi, Leva & Vita Bloomfield, Fihi Kaufusi
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: N/A
Time: 125 min.

High school is hard as it is just being a teenager, juggling grades, extracurricular activities and maybe sneaking in some romance in between but the pressures and expectations are held to a stress-inducing standard when you come from an ethnic family who's livelihood depends on your own success. In the spirit of Hoop Dreams, In Football We Trust follows the journey of four Polynesian high school students as they chase their life long and life-changing in hopes of attaining their goals of professional recruitments. Filmed over the span of four years, first time filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn chronicles these NFL hopeful's struggles and pressures to balance cultural and familial expectations in order to find an ticket out from gang violence and poverty. 

Set in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah, the film chronicles four teenage boys going through high school while facing the enormous pressures of carrying the burden of their dreams and their families, presenting a new take on the American immigrant story.  Despite their small population with a brief history in the U.S., Samoans and Tongans are 28 times more likely than any other ethnic group to play football for the NFL. Some refer to this phenomenon as a "calling" or a gift from god, crediting their genetics which are agreeably the epitome of a great football player. As much as their hefty attributes and build serve as their greatest strength in being a first-class candidate for football, their culture and familial obligations become their greatest motivation and downfall. 



Fihi Kaufusi, like many of the residents of Salt Lake are practicing Mormons deal with the common battle of cultural bond and environment influences of religion and relations. Without the support of his immediate family, Fihi struggles to outshine with unrelenting religious convictions and determination that inevitably does him more harm than good. Two brothers Leva and Vita Bloomfield who's family is affiliated with the most notorious gang in Salt Lake City, struggle to outshine their perceived reputation and not succumb to violence when confronted by peers as a teenage boy. Then there is the star, Harvey Langi whose name has already been circulating around the most prestigious football colleges, carries his family's livelihood on his shoulder as he is their golden ticket from poverty. These four teenage boys all share their passionate stories to succeed and discover the hard truths of growing up with an incredible amount of pressure to succeed and abide by societal expectations. 

Like Fihi says in the film that people don't know what Samoans are and think they're just big Mexicans, only further makes this film that much more special as we get such incredible insight and access to a knit-tight community that is rarely seen on screen. Even though I feel as though I am well aware of Asian cultures and communities, the Pacific Islander experience especially in a pre-dominantly Mormon and White town is an entirely unique experience that has yet to be shown. Polynesians are such a small group of minority, it is their will to thrive that propels them to work that much harder. But in moments of adolescence, and just growing up, the greatest challenge for these four NFL hopeful's is the arduous and sobering journey of the high stakes that come with trying to achieve your dreams all while flourishing out of their adolescence. In no time, they are faced with the harsh realities that maybe, Football it is not all it's cracked up to be. 


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Sundance is less than a week and I am proud to announce that I will be attending this year's Sundance Film Festival! I am continuously impressed by Sundance's extensive and expansive selection of films every year! And of course, I am enthralled by just the sheer fact that I will be breathing the same icy air as these wondrous filmmakers, press, and film lovers alike! Going to Sundance has been a life-long dream of mine so I am definitely starting out 2015 right! There are so many great films at this festival but sadly, I was only able to get 10 tickets for right now. So naturally, I had to ensure that those 10 films were all on my ultimate MUST-SEE list and I am proud to say that I was able to get everything I had wanted. So without further ado, here are the top films I got tickets for as well as the other brilliant films I desperately want to see!



Tickets I've Already Gotten:


Tangerine (Dir. Sean Baker)

A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O'Hagan, Alla Tumanyan, James Ransone.

Why
: I am so drunk in love with Sean Baker's filmmaking style and stories that highlights underrepresented  communities with such sincerity and ferocity. And Tangerine especially because the story takes place on the nitty gritty streets of Los Angeles featuring transgender actresses in all their glory! I don't expect anything less than a visceral, intoxicating, and dynamic film experience from Sean. The man basically can do no wrong! His previous films, Take OutPrince of Broadway, and Starlet are all on Netflix so get on it folks!


Advantageous (Dir. Jennifer Phang)

In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim.

Why: Just watch the short film version of Advantageous and you will know why. This premise is so dense, I can't wait to see a full-length feature of them really digging into this world that talks about complex social issues about economies, values, and gender disparity. And it doesn't hurt that there is an Asian woman in the forefront of this film that isn't sexualized or a tiger mom in any way.


Knock Knock (Dir. Eli Roth)

Two beautiful young girls walk into a married man's life and turn a wild fantasy into his worst nightmare. Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana De Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Colleen Camp.

Why: Two Things: Keanu Reeves and two girls. What could possibly go wrong?! Oh man, so many things and I've grown to love Keanu more and more these days after John Wick and Side by Side. So, I'm really hoping shit goes down and Eli Roth is gives us some sexy time with this uber attractive trio. Of course, some gun play wouldn't be so bad either.


Seoul Searching (Dir. Benson Lee)

A comedy set in the ’80s about a group of foreign-born Korean teenagers who meet at a Seoul summer camp to learn what it means to be Korean. The three boys, from the U.S., Mexico, and Germany, then meet three girls who rock their world. Cast: Justin Chon, Jessika Van, In-pyo Cha, Teo Yoo, Esteban Ahn, Byul Kang.

Why: I've been a fan of all of Benson Lee's work since his first documentary about B-Boys called Planet B-Boy so naturally, I was interested in his new work which is a teen comedy, featuring an all Asian cast! In the 80s! In Korea! I've been waiting to see another teen high school comedy since forever and with the merging of Koreans from all over the globe, it is bound to get so culturally diverse in this film! Check out the film's teaser because it looks like a freaking riot! 


Pervert Park (Dir. Frida Barkfors & Lasse Barkfors)

Pervert Park follows the everyday lives of sex offenders in a Florida trailer park as they struggle to reintegrate into society, and try to understand who they are and how to break the cycle of sex crimes being committed.

Why: The title alone the reason why I am so intrigued because as much as I fear for my life of having an incident with a sex offender, they are (obviously) people as well who are battling with their own demons. It'll be a nice and eye-opening documentary to see their perspective of their crimes and situation in-depth than what meets the eye.


The Nightmare (Dir. Rodney Ascher)

A documentary-horror film exploring the phenomenon of sleep paralysis through the eyes of eight people. They (and a surprisingly large number of others) often find themselves trapped between the sleeping and awake realms, unable to move but aware of their surroundings while subject to disturbing sights and sounds.

WhyGetting sleep paralysis is LIT.ER.ALLY. my worst nightmare and I wish it never happens to me like it has to so many other people. So why am I watching a film about something that I am so horrified by? Ascher's previous documentary, Room 237 was superbly made and I am continuously fascinated by his work and subjects. So while just the act of watching this documentary will be pure psychological punishment, I'm doing it for the art! And cause I'm a masochist. Horray?


Dope (Dir. Rick Famuyiwa)

Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself. Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky.

Why: Y'all know me and Los Angeles films! We need more of them! Especially ones that show the unfiltered version of LA and not the glitzy glam of Hollywood. And I always love a good coming-of-age storie with a diverse cast like this one! Who can deny Tony Revolori after The Grand Budapest Hotel! Tbh, this film just looks dope, just as the title implies and with a film with A$AP Rocky, I wouldn't expect anything less! *Cue A$AP Rocky's Wild for the Night*


Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Dir. Chloé Zhao)

This complex portrait of modern-day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister, who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home. Cast: John Reddy, Jashaun St. John, Irene Bedard, Taysha Fuller, Travis Lone Hill, Eléonore Hendricks

Why: I have not seen any of Zhao's previous works but as she is supported by every independent film organization including IFP and Film Independent, I would definitely like to see her work! The premise and image seems like she will tell a unique story about Indians like we've never seen before. And to be honest with you, I don't think I've ever seen a film about Native Americans so it'll be great to see a story that explores their culture, land, and identity. 


City of Gold (Dir. Laura Gabbert)

Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold casts his light upon a vibrant and growing cultural movement in which he plays the dual roles of high-low priest and culinary geographer of his beloved Los Angeles.

Why: Jonathan Gold is my go-to guy when I don't know what to eat and as he is an iconic figure of Los Angeles, I must watch this film! I mean the guy was born in Los Angeles, went to UCLA, and now works for The LA Times! I don't know anyone who is more LA than Gold right here! His eccentric look and positively vivacious writing about food (specifically ethnic food) is what makes him so damn unique as a critic and a figure in the food industry. 


Hot Girls Wanted (Dir. Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus)

Hot Girls Wanted is a first-ever look at the realities inside the world of the amateur porn industry and the steady stream of 18- and 19-year-old girls entering into it.

Why: Why not?! Just the word porn is provocative enough to make me watch this documentary but also considering that it focuses on young women, it would be fascinating to see their perspective of what the porn world is like as a novice. Tackling not only porn but the internet and the theme of the "girl next door" is endlessly alluring as how all these factors have contributed to changing the platform of the adult film industry in many ways since the birth of dial-up.
Films I Want to See:

Fresh Dressed (Director: Sacha Jenkins)


The history of hip-hop fashion from its birth in the South Bronx to its rise as a billion-dollar global industry, “Fresh Dressed” is supported by rich archival materials, in-depth interviews with individuals crucial to the evolution, and the outsiders who study and admire them.


The Hunting Ground (Dir. Kirby Dick) 


From the makers of “The Invisible War” comes a startling expose of rape crimes on U.S. campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and brutal social toll. Weaving together verite footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors as they pursue their education and justice — despite harsh retaliation, harassment, and pushback.


The Mask You Live In (Dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom)


Is there a “boy crisis” in America? Is our male population suffering due to our emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? “The Mask You Live In” explores how our narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.


Finders Keepers (Dir. Bryan Carberry & Clay Tweel)


Recovering addict and amputee John Wood finds himself in a stranger-than-fiction battle to reclaim his mummified leg from Southern entrepreneur Shannon Whisnant, who found it in a grill he bought at an auction and believes it to therefore be his rightful property.

The Wolfpack (Dir. Crystal Moselle)

Six bright teenage brothers have spent their entire lives locked away from society in a Manhattan housing project. All they know of the outside is gleaned from the movies they watch obsessively (and recreate meticulously). Yet as adolescence looms, they dream of escape, ever more urgently, into the beckoning world.

Lila & Eve (Dir. Charles Stone III)

Lila, a grief-stricken mother reeling from her son’s murder, attends a support group where she meets Eve, who urges her to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. They soon embark on a journey of revenge, but also recovery. Cast: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Shea Whigham, Julius Tennon, Ron Caldwell, Aml Ameen.

Mistress America (Dir. Noah Baumbach) 

Tracy, a lonely college freshman in New York, is rescued from her solitude by her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke, an adventurous gal about town who entangles her in alluringly mad schemes. Mistress America is a comedy about dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families, and cat-stealing. Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke.

(Synopsis via Indiewire)
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