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Where EAST meets the Northwest

HULA HEROES. DisOrient 2008, Oregon’s only Asian-American film festival, opens April 24 and continues through April 27 at Bijou Art Cinemas in Eugene, Oregon. Pictured is a scene from Lisette Marie Flanary’s Nā Kamalei: The Men of Hula, which is featured Friday, April 25 at 6:45pm. The event also includes Akira’s Hip Hop Shop, a hula performance by the University of Oregon Hawai’i Club, and special guest Bob Watada. (Photo courtesy of Lehua Films)

From The Asian Reporter, V18, #17 (April 22, 2008), page 1 & 15.

Oregon’s only Asian-American film festival looks to shine in its third year

By Toni Tabora-Roberts

In case you hadn’t heard, Eugene, Oregon has proven to be a much-needed hub of Asian-American film stewardship in the state and in the Pacific Northwest. Now in its third year, the DisOrient Film Festival, the only Asian-American film festival in Oregon, has grown into a wonderful example of a sophisticated, yet grassroots, community-oriented event. The festival takes place April 24 through 27.

This year the festival continues to garner some of the best new Asian-American films and is gaining national recognition. Building on some of last year’s exciting screenings (including Justin Lin’s Finishing the Game, Julia Kwan’s Eve & the Firehorse, and Colma: The Musical by Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza), DisOrient will again showcase a wide range of emerging and veteran Asian-American talent.

Festival highlights

Opening the festival is Michael Kang’s sophomore feature West 32nd (a follow up to his critically acclaimed debut, The Motel). The film is set in the Manhattan Koreatown underworld and stars John Cho (Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, Better Luck Tomorrow) and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica). Kang is scheduled to attend.

Academy Award-winner Jessica Yu, best known for her documentary work (In the Realms of the Unreal, The Living Museum), closes the festival with her debut fictional feature Ping Pong Playa. The comedy follows the travails of a ping-pong obsessed family and their quest to retain the family’s honor.

Other narrative features to check out include Baby by Juwan Chung, The Trouble with Romance by Gene Rhee, and Tie a Yellow Ribbon by Joy Dietrich. Roger Fan (Finishing the Game, Better Luck Tomorrow) stars in both Ping Pong Playa and The Trouble with Romance, and is scheduled to attend the screenings. Baby is a gritty look at East Los Angeles Chinese gang life, and The Trouble with Romance explores relationships through the lens of three rooms in a hotel during one single evening. Dietrich’s debut feature, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, takes a compassionate look at identity, depression, and suicide among Asian-American girls.

Highlights in the documentary realm include Nā Kamalei: The Men of Hula by Lisette Marie Flanary and The Killing of a Chinese Cookie by Derek Shimoda. The award-winning Men of Hula introduces hula master Robert Cazimero and his unique all-male hula school during the celebration of its 30th anniversary of reviving the art of men dancing the hula. Chinese Cookie is about — well, fortune cookies, of course, including the history and cultural implications of the ubiquitous cookie.

The festival also includes a variety of shorts programs, workshops, and an award ceremony. DisOrient, a program of the Chinese American Benevolent Association, opens Thursday, April 24 and concludes Sunday, April 27 at Bijou Art Cinemas in Eugene. For more information about the festival, including a full schedule and film descriptions, visit <>.