Written by Tristan Olav Torgersen
Photos by Tristan Olav Torgersen and M. V. Schroeder
Last Monday, 5/7/18, Schroeder and I embarked on a journey. Anywhere else, the hour and twenty minute journey probably would have taken us fifty or sixty miles from our starting destination. In Los Angeles, you could be on the road for that long and make it a meager ten miles or so. Such is life.
It was all worth it though, as we’d been told about the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival downtown at the Regal L.A. Live Theater next to the Staples Center. An actress we interviewed last year knew one of the actresses in a new movie playing at the festival, so we headed downtown!
Without spoiling the film, I will give you a brief synopsis. Michelle Ang portrays a young woman named Dede. Her addiction to prescription pain meds pulls her mother Anna, from her job in Hong Kong to join her in LA. Anna is played by Elizabeth Sung who has been in numerous blockbuster hits. She brings a maturity and power on set as the single-mother-turned-reluctant-caretaker, and it is easy to see how traditional family values clash with modern struggles and failings.
Across the street lives Laura, played by Jennifer Soo, and her father Peter, played by Jim Lau. Again, I won’t spoil too much of the film, but the story weaved between these four character is heartfelt, real, and often poignant.
For Izzy is unique in many ways. It should be noted first and foremost, the film was shot in 17 days. Yes, you read that right. 17 days. That’s faster than most people’s New Year’s Resolutions to go to the gym last. And yet, the film was well done and plays well within its space. Shooting between Los Angeles and San Francisco must have helped get the shooting time so short, but it doesn’t feel confined.
One of the most impactful and visually stunning parts of the film come when animation is on-screen. When Laura explains the world from her perspective, we get to see an animated picture as brilliant and pure as her character represents. We have Natalya Serebrennikova to thank for the animation visuals. You may recognize her style from the hit documentary He Named Me Malala.
There was a nice Q&A following the screening, and all was accompanied by applause. The For Izzy Twitter and Facebook accounts even announced that the film won the Grand Jury Award for North American Feature at the LAAPFF.
For Izzy handles heavy issues and themes including prescription drug addiction, recovery, LGBTQIA lifestyles and traditional cultures, family dynamics, responsibility, love, vulnerability, and acceptance. Alex Chu really went all-in with For Izzy and didn’t hold back in making a realistic story.
One of the other things we noticed was that the main cast was all Asian and Asian-American, but that was not restrictive in any way. In fact, to categorize it only as an Asian-American Film would be pigeonholing it. The story is of two Asian families, but their struggles, conflicts, and lives are relatable to anyone who watches the film. The film was as American as it was Asian-American, and I credit Alex Chu and the talented cast in making a film that can be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone who watches it.
So now what? Be sure to follow their social media and find a showing near you!