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New Oscar submissions announced, Grey's and Grudge 2 high in ratings, and Asian Americans snag nominations at the Gotham Awards. All this and more in the latest edition of News Bites.
More Oscar Foreign Language Entries
Nepal has entered Basain to represent the country for the 79th Annual Academy Awards, which airs in March. Basain (Migration) is based on a novel by Lil Bahadur Chhetri, and explores social problems associated with migration while focusing on the story of a villager who has to leave due to debt issues. Ranju Lamichhane plays the leading role. The film is helmed by director Subash Gajurel, whose previous film credits include 2001's Maya Baiguni.
APA's run-through of entries from India, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand.
Other films include:
Bangladesh, Forever Flows, dir: Abu Sayeed
Indonesia, Love for Share, dir: Nia Dinata
The Academy will sift through the five official nominations for Best Foreign Language film, which will be announced January 23, 2007. The Oscars are scheduled to be presented February 25, 2007.
What is this show they call Grey's Anatomy?
And why is it taking over everyone's lives? Suddenly it's cool to give grown professional males nicknames like "McDreamy" and "McSteamy" -- and truthfully, I'm not sure how I feel about that. However, that just speaks to the influence that this show has had amongst hard-core fans. This one-hour hospital dramedy, which features critics darling Sandra Oh as the rarely-seen-on-TV Asian Jew, has been consistently topping the ratings since its move to Thursdays. Up 33% from last season, Grey's now averages 24 million viewers a week. For a network show that consistently features diverse multi-cultural characters on a weekly basis, one has to respect creator Shonda Rhimes' vision and hope their success continues.
Official site: http://abc.go.com/primetime/greysanatomy/index
Whiting Prize Awards Go to Li and Kim
The Whiting Writer's Award is presented each year to ten emerging writers, who receive a $40,000 prize. This year, Yiyun Li was one of the recipients for ficton, and Suji Kwock Kim earned the honor for her work in poetry. Both are graduates of the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Yiyun Li was born in China but currently lives in Oakland, CA. Her work includes last year's story collection A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Suji Kwock Kim is a Korean American poet who won the 2002 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets for her first collection of poetry, Notes from the Divided Country. Her poems will soon be set to music by the Mayako Kubo and the Tokyo Philharmaonic Chorus, with Berlin and Tokyo performances scheduled to be performed the next year.
Gotham Awards Announced with Nice Surprises
In addition to Half Nelson's deserved nominations, there are other new films and faces that were honored by IFP (Independent Feature Project) this year. For Babel, Rinko Kikuchi was selected for her intensely heartfelt performance as a deaf-mute teenager in Japan -- both for Breakthrough Actor and for being part of the Best Ensemble Cast. So Yong Kim earned two nods for her film In Between Days, one for Breakthrough Director and one for the Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You category. The film will be competing with Richard Wong's Colma: The Musical for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You. Also earning a nomination for Breakthrough Director was Ramin Bahrani for Noruz Film's Man Push Cart. And last but not least, Sook-Yin Lee and company were chosen as a nominee for Best Ensemble Cast, for their work on John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus.
Weinstein ImaginAsian Collaboration
ImaginAsian Entertainment has struck a deal with The Weinstein Company's Genius Products to distribute Asian and Asian American films in the United States. TWC's experience in the niche film market (expanded again recently with its similar deal with Asian action giant Tartan USA) bolsters ImaginAsian's chances of success, although only time will tell if TWC's increasing monopolization of the local Asian film market will result in longer release hiatuses, as when American audiences had to wait years for the Weinstein's Miramax to release Zhang Yimou's Hero because the company was afraid a more timely release would draw tickets away from Miramax's own Kill Bill films. On the slate are Park Cheol-su's erotic drama Green Chair, Ham Tran's Journey from the Fall, and ImaginAsian's own Comedy Zen and Uncle Morty's Dub Shack programs. More acquistions are expected to be announced after the Pusan and American Film Markets. ImaginAsian previously collaborated with Palm Pictures for the theatrical distribution of Michael Kang's The Motel. --Brian Hu
APA commentary on The MotelAPA ImaginAsian coverage: Interview with Michael Hong and host Pooja Kumar
IFC acquired the North American rights to Eric Byler's Americanese, a film based on Shawn Wong's novel American Knees, starring Chris Tashima, Allison Sie, and Joan Chen. The film centers around Raymond Ding and Aurora Crane, lovers who broke up but are still entangled in each other's consciousness while they try to move on. It explores Asian American identity, as Raymond is an older Chinese American man and Aurora is a younger hapa female that is more accustomed to dating white men. Americanese recently won the Audience Award and an ensemble acting prize at the SouthWest Festival in Austin. IFC's First Take label is planning a 2007 release for the film.
Bai Ling is a Diverse Spirit
The Multicultural Motion Picture Association (MMPA) is presenting Bai Ling with the Spirit Award at the 2006 Diversity Awards gala. This year's theme is "Creativity and Talent that Shine." And boy is she shiny. Other winners this year include Maria Bello and Michael Pena for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. My Name is Earl, Bones, and Criminal Minds were singled out in the Television categories. The MMPA is committed to celebrating a diversity of perspectives and stories in cinema. The late Pat Morita was one of their Board members. Previous Asian and Asian American honorees and presenters include Rosalind Chao, Mako, Chow Yun Fat, Joan Chen, Margaret Cho, Ming-Na Wen, Dustin Nguyen, and Vivian Wu.
The Grudge 2 Makes it Number One
Despite mediocre reviews, The Grudge 2 managed to drag in $20.83 million in its opening weekend. Directed by Takashi Shimizu, who made the first Grudge as well as the two original Japanese Ju-On films, The Grudge 2 stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (reprising her role despite insinuations that her character had perished), Amber Tamblyn, and Edison Chen (of Infernal Affairs fame). The subsequent weekend, the film had fallen to number six. But that won't stop the deadly curse from continuing: Shimuzu is in talks to helm a fifth installment the Ju-on series, Ju-On: The Grudge 3.
Sean Lennon Touring New York
The son of John and Yoko has released his first solo album in eight years, entitled Friendly Fire. His sophomore CD opened 152 on the billboard charts, which was similar to his 1998 solo debut, Into the Sun, where he opened at 153. According to an interview he gave with Billboard, the songs were inspired by his breakup with actress Bijou Phillips and the fact that she cheated on him with his best friend. Girlfriends cheating on you with your best friend -- rarely a good thing. Ironically, the album features background vocals from Phillips. Also contibuting to Lennon's album is Harper Simon, Paul Simon's son, who acted as the main guitarist. Lennon launches a 14-date tour in New York City from Oct 29th to Dec 22nd.
Date Posted: 10/25/2006