Guide to Final Day of Calgary International Film Festival 2011

Sunday, 2 October, 2011

Sun, Oct 2nd

12:00pm Becoming Santa (Eau Claire) Watch my video interview with ”Becoming Santa”‘s Santa/producer Jack Sanderson & director/producer Jeff Myers

2:30pm, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

4:30pm Almanya – Welcome to Germany (Eau Claire)

7:00pm The Salt of Life (Eau Claire)


One Big Hapa Family review & Jeff Chiba Stearns CIFF Film Talk

Monday, 11 October, 2010

One Big Hapa Family posterOne Big Hapa Family - Jeff & Grandpa

I interviewed Jeff Chiba Stearns in advance of the world premiere screening his first feature-length documentary One Big Hapa Family at the 2010 Calgary International Film Festival.

In Jeff’s live action and animated documentary One Big Hapa Family, he insightfully and in a fun way explores “why almost 100% of all Japanese-Canadians are marrying interracially, the highest out of any other ethnicity in Canada, and how their mixed children perceive their unique multiracial identities.” Jeff explored the subject with insightful interviews and observations.

One Big Hapa Family - Koga Reunion 2009

Jeff has also blended animation nicely into his documentary so the film can also reach the younger audiences and students easier. If you have a chance, I highly recommend you check out the film. Look out for the film as it will be coming to your local OMNI TV channel in 2011.

The following animated frames are examples of Jeff skillfully using animation to tell the story in a more fun and informative manner. Sushi may now be loved by many North Americans, but the first frame illustrates the younger Jeff having the unfortunate experience of his home-made sushi being unloved and rejected by his fellow classmates. The worst thing was even his teacher didn’t even break the ice by trying one piece!

One Big Hapa Family - Sushi

One Big Hapa Family - Ben

One Big Hapa Family - Chalk Hapas

Here is a movie trailer,

Here is a clip of Jeff talking about One Big Hapa Family at a post screening film chat.

Photo of Jeff at world premiere of One Big Hapa Family.

Jeff Chiba Stearns, One Big Hapa Family, 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film FestivalJeff Chiba Stearns, One Big Hapa Family, 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film Festival

Jeff giving a film talk and Q&A at Calgary Japanese Community Association.

Calgary Japanese Community AssociationJeff Chiba Stearns, "One Big Hapa Family" film talk at Calgary Japanese Community Association


2010 CIFF Picks: Me, Too (Yo, Tambien)

Saturday, 2 October, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Me, Too (Yo, Tambien) (CIFF screening info: Globe, Saturday, Oct 2, 2:45pm) (film website).

This is a drama/romantic comedy with a twist. Here is the CIFF film synopsis (with emphasis added),

ME, TOO is the story of Daniel (Pablo Pineda), the first European with Down syndrome to graduate university. Raised in a highly academic home environment, the 34-year-old Daniel is constantly caught between two worlds, without quite fitting in on either side. He is more intellectual than the average person with Down syndrome, but not “normal” enough to fit in with much of “normal” society. Because of his loneliness, his relationships are the most important part of his life. When Daniel starts a new job, he soon forms a close friendship with one of his co-workers, Laura (Lola Dueñas). The friendship advances quickly into something more all consuming, and soon Daniel falls in love.

The intimate journey of Daniel, Laura and their friends and family captures the intense emotions each of them experiences. ME, TOO is a fascinating and emotional first feature film written and directed by the team of Álvaro Pastor and Antonio Naharro.”


2010 CIFF Picks: Sweetgrass

Sunday, 26 September, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Sweetgrass (CIFF screening info: Globe, Sunday, Sept 26, 4:45pm) (film website).

I am going to sit back and enjoy the beauty of this documentary film, a film that the husband and wife filmmaking team spent 10 years in making.

Here is the film’s synopsis from CIFF (emphasis added),

An unsentimental elegy to the American West, SWEETGRASS follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s Absaroka Beartooth Mountains for summer pasture. This astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed. The colourful characters and beautiful mountain scenery will at once feel familiar to Albertans who are acquainted with “Big Sky Country” and the lives of “real” cowboys—individuals who are distinctly a breed apart from the ones usually seen on the big screen at a multiplex. The husband and wife team of Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor spent 10 years filming the 150-mile trek into the mountains; of the nine films composed from hundreds of hours of footage shot, SWEETGRASS is the only one intended for theatrical exhibition.

Here is the film’s trailer.


2010 CIFF Picks: Leave Them Laughing

Sunday, 26 September, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Leave Them Laughing (CIFF screening info: Eau Claire, Sunday, Sept 26, 12:30pm) (film website). Here is the film’s synopsis from CIFF (emphasis added),

“When comedians get huge laughs from an audience, it’s referred to as having “killed it;” when a comedian tanks, they “die” on stage. When Canadian comedian Carla Zilbersmith is diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease), she kills it while dying. Academy Award-winning Canadian filmmaker John Zaritsky (JUST ANOTHER MISSING KID) aims his lens directly into the abyss of death again, as he did in THE SUICIDE TOURIST, only this time it isn’t about the right to die—it’s about dying right. Films from her final tours abroad are intercut with interviews, confessionals and skits that form a portrait of a brave woman prepared to drink deep from the cup of life, savour every moment and, when the curtain falls, leave them laughing.”

Here is the film’s trailer. Warning: Coarse Language & Mature Subject Matter

*** Spoiler alert. *** Please skip the following if you want to watch the film without knowing how things turn out.

As part of the research I’ve done, I went to check out Carla’s blog and I was sad to find that she has passed on. Her final blog video is a funny must see and her her son Mac’s eulogy is loving and very touching.

A good documentary will touch us and sometimes change how we see the world and live our lives. I look forward to watching this film even though I expect the audio quality of the film might not be the best at places.


Jeff Chiba Stearns – shares his “Yellow Sticky Notes” animation magic at 2010 CIFF

Saturday, 25 September, 2010

Jeff Chiba Stearns rough animation demo – 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film FestivalJeff Chiba Stearns rough animation demo – 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film Festival

In the following interview/demo, Jeff Chiba Stearns, filmmaker of “One Big Hapa Family“, shows us how he use the “Yellow Sticky Notes” (viewed over 1.4 million times) style of animation to draw and create his magic. Also check out my video interview with Jeff.

P.S. I really appreciate Jeff openly sharing his creative work-in-progress here. It reminds me of my 2008 interview with painter Christine Cheung where she chatted with me about her abstract painting and let me interviewed her and filmed her painting.


Jeff Chiba Stearns interview – One Big Hapa Family – 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film Festival

Saturday, 25 September, 2010

One Big Hapa Family posterJeff Chiba Stearns interview - One Big Hapa Family - 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film Festival

I had a great time interviewing Jeff Chiba Stearns, filmmaker of “One Big Hapa Family“, last night and I am looking forward to watching his feature-length documentary One Big Hapa Family on Sunday, Sept 26, 2:45pm.

In the interview Jeff and I chatted about what inspired him to make the documentary, why he thinks may explain the stats of 95% of Japanese-Canadian marries inter=racially or Japanese of non-Japanese decent (South Asian is 13%), why can we learn from this difference. Jeff and I also talk about the animation techniques he used, what inspired him to draw some of the scenes in his over 1.4 million views “Yellow Sticky Notes“, his recommended animation book “The Illusion of Life“, and other animation/filmmaking ideas. Enjoy.

One Big Hapa Family - Jeff & GrandpaOne Big Hapa Family - Sushi

One Big Hapa Family - Chalk HapasOne Big Hapa Family - Koga Reunion 2009


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