Sunday, June 30, 2019

Nate Hood's 400 words on Jinpa (2019) NYAFF 2019

Pema Tseden’s Jinpa is less movie than mood made manifest. There’s a story and there are characters, but these are mere set dressing for a hypnotic meditation on death and destiny that reads like a Zen riddle designed not to be solved but to shock the reader into spiritual awareness through the contemplation of a paradox. To even consider it as a single coherent piece would probably miss the point entirely, as Tseden smashed together two different literary sources—Tsering Norbu’s The Slayer and his own short story I Ran Over a Sheep—with little regard for how they might actually complement each other. Instead Tseden allows us to make sense of the film’s internal logic ourselves, much as we might parse over a dream upon waking.

The film centers on a Tibetan trucker named Jinpa who—in a meta-textual flourish—is played by an actor also named Jinpa in real-life. While driving on an isolated road on the barren, windswept Kekexili Plateau, the stoic Jinpa accidentally runs over and kills a sheep. A pious Buddhist, Jinpa collects the body to take it to a monastery for a priest to help guide its soul to the afterlife. But on the way, he picks up a bedraggled hitchhiker (Genden Phuntsok) carrying a silver dagger who tells him that he’s heading for a nearby town to kill the man who murdered his father years ago. The hitchhiker’s name? Jinpa.

There’s a surrealist logic permeating the film extending beyond the coincidence of them having the same name; there’s a sense that they’re stuck in an endless world perpetually repeating itself. Take one scene where the trucker travels to a bar to collect information on the hitchhiker after dropping him off and deciding he needs to stop him from killing his father’s murderer. While talking with the barmaid, a group of locals tell stories in the background. Later, during a flashback of the hitchhiker entering the same bar, the same locals are telling the same stories word-for-word. Is this even a flashback, or is hitchhiker Jinpa another aspect of trucker Jinpa and the two are really the same? Probably not, as trucker Jinpa finds people who’ve met hitchhiker Jinpa. At least, we think we do. Who or what can be real in a landscape outside time and reason itself? Certainly not concrete answers to questions no unenlightened mind can ask.

Rating: 8/10

The Gun (2019) NYAFF 2019

Mannered and deliberate tale of a college student who picks up a gun from a murder scene and suddenly feels empowered- until the constant thinking about the gun begins to warp him.

Moody black and white film is a very much a film with a great deal on it's mind. Made to look and feel like a film noir it is a kind of throw back to the 40's with a voice over and our hero being followed by the police who suspect he may know more about the murder than he is saying.  At the same time the film wants to say something about how weapons or perceived power warps our minds.

For me the film was an okay time killer and little more. While looking good and being well told, the film unfortunately doesn't do anything unexpected. Once the film sets everything up you can pretty much guess where this is going to go, even to the ending which goes from black and white to color in  a slow bleed like blood running from a body.

While not a bad film it isn't anything special. I suspect part of the problem is that the filmmakers think that the notion of a gun warping someone in and of itself is something special when in fact it is no different than any other similar tale where money or an object changes someone.

Nate Hood's 400 words on Hard -Core (2019) NYAFF 2019

One of the first scenes in Nobuhiro Yamashita’s “dark comedy” Hard-Core sees its main character, a shiftless loser named Ukon (Takayuki Yamada), go to a bar and unsuccessfully flirt with a pretty woman. When she rebuffs his advances, he respectfully backs away. Soon afterwards, a group of drunken frat-boys comes barreling in, harass the same woman, and eventually get her to sing karaoke with them. As she warms up to their inebriated nonsense, she plants a chaste kiss on one of their cheeks. Incensed, Ukon attacks the frat-boy, screaming that they should leave her alone. The subtext being, of course, that if he couldn’t get lucky, it was unfair that they—men so obviously beneath him—should. And yes, he’s supposed to be a sad-sack early on the film, but the stink of Incel entitlement never quite leave Ukon or the film itself.

Stumbling from confused set piece to ill-advised character twists, Hard-Core is an ideologically heinous film that can’t even manage to be funny or biting. It revolves around Ukon and his struggles to make it in life in the shadow of his successful stock broker younger brother Sakon (Takeru Satoh). To wit, he makes a paltry living working for an ultanationalist political group digging in a cave for a legendary caché of gold from the nineteenth century. His only friend is a mentally handicapped loser named Ushiyama (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa) who is so awkward not even prostitutes will sleep with him. (This subplot of Ushiyama’s pathetic attempts to lose his virginity tip the film’s malevolent misogyny off to those who don’t pick up on the narrative’s incel leanings.) After a time, they discover an abandoned robot straight from a 50s Republic serial they name Roboo and adopt him as one of their own. Not that a talking, feeling, hyper-intelligent robot matters that much in the grand scheme of the film; he’s an incidental side character for most of the run-time, leading us to wonder why in the hell they would introduce such a fantastical element to the story if they rarely use him. Instead, this is the story of Ukon’s personal growth, something which not-so-coincidentally happens as soon as he finds a conventionally attractive woman to sleep with.

Hard-Core is an unfunny, overlong, unfocused film that can’t even keep up a cohesive narrative.

Avoid it at all costs.

Rating: 2/10
HARD-CORE plays later in July at Fantasia Fest in Montreal

NYAFF 2019 Capsule reviews COMPLICITY and A RESISTANCE

Heavy drama revolves around a Chinese national in Japan illegally. Buying a cellphone and identity on the black market he gets a job in a rural village at a soba shop. Falling into the rhythms of the shop and possibly in love, he must navigate a life that isn't fully his own and one where there is danger of deportation.

Well made and well acted film is long but solid drama. While decidedly not my cup of tea, it is much too brooding for my taste, this film will delight those who like art house dramas.

True story of Yu Gwan-sun who was caught illegally protesting the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1919. She is thrown in prison for three years and struggles to survive in a 10 by 10 foot cell with dozens of other women. However she refuses to bend and gives hope to the women around her.

By the numbers historical drama is good telling of what the Japanese were up to when they controlled Korea. While not bad there is a kind of distance, and sense of "we have a point" in the telling that made it impossible for me to fully engage and to feel anything toward the people on screen

In Brief: Han Dan (2109) NYAFF 2019

Set around the a Firecracker Festival in honor of the god Han Dan the tells the story of two men whose lives intertwine before and after tragedy strikes when a woman comes between them.

A solidly produced film Han Dan rises above many other similar films thanks to it’s setting a the firecracker festival where men  seek atonement by having firecrackers thrown and fired at them. While soap opera-esque in a way, and a bit too long at 125 minutes, the film still holds our attention thanks to real characters who generate enough interest that we genuinely want to see what happens to them.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Reposting Yuen Woo-Ping: The Unseen Films Interview for the NYAFF 2019

Yuen Wing-Poo Photo from IMDB
When MASTER Z : IP MAN LEGACY opened in theaters across the US in April I was given a chance to interview via e-mail the film's director, the legendary Yuen Woo-Ping. Woo-Ping is responsible for changing how action is portrayed in the movies. His work in DRUNKEN MASTER, THE MATRIX films, The KILL BILL films, the IRON MONKEY  films, KUNG FU HUSTLE,  and dozens of others set and reset the bar of what is the cutting edge in action. He is such a legend that this year the New York Asian Film Festival is giving him their Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The chance to interview him was a once in the life time sort of thing and of course I jumped at the chance. While it may have been a once in life time chance, bI realized that in order to do the interview properly I was going to have to ask for help. While I would have no problem asking about MASTER Z I felt out of my league discussing his extensive body of work, so I did what any rational person would do and turned to the members of the Unseen Film and asked for thoughts and questions. Mr C, Nate Hood Hubert Vigilla and Jared King responded with the questions that ended up making up the bulk of the interview. (Actually Jared went even further and asked his friends what they thought would be the best questions.) Without the help of the experts this would have been two questions instead of  twenty. (Thank you gentleman. Having friends like you is what makes Unseen Films a family. I appreciate your help to no end) 

I want to thank Yuen Woo-Ping for taking the time to respond. It was an honor. I also want to thank the people at Falco Ink for setting this up.

UNSEEN FILMS:  With MASTER Z being a sequel you have to set up just how good Cheung Tin Chi is for anyone who hasn't seen the earlier films and you do that by having him effortlessly take on an entire gang of men. Later on we can gauge how good someone is by how many people he is fighting. How do you decide how to show how good the various characters are in your films?

YUEN WOO-PING: Each hero has to be special in some way. Whether it’s a character extraordinary ability or an ordinary person faced with extraordinary challenges. Tin Chi is a bit of both. He possesses talent in wing chun but has sworn to stay away from wing chun and the trouble it brings. He wants an ordinary life for him and his son. But trouble eventually finds him no matter how hard he tries to stay away.

UNSEEN FILMS How did you cast the film? MASTER Z is so perfectly cast, how did you choose who would be in the film? How did Dave Baustista end up in the film? Frequently when a Western actor is brought in for a film like this they seem out of place but he seems to fit in perfectly.

YUEN WOO- PING: I wanted someone unique in each role to bring sometime different than the most obvious casting. For example Michelle Yeoh’s role was originally written for a man. But that story of a gangster trying to turn good has been told many times using a male character. It’s more interesting as a woman, especially an elegant woman who doesn’t look the gangster part. But put a Sabre in her hand she turns into a different woman. With Dave Bautista one of my producers suggested him for the part of Owen Davidson. I wanted someone physically intimidating but who can really act and bring the character to life. Dave fit the bill.

UNSEEN FILMS:  How does casting affect or influence a film or sequence? Do you wait to see who is going to be in a film before designing a sequence or do you alter it once casting is done?

YUEN WOO- PING: Casting is everything in drama or action. Every actor has a different read on a scene and different physical ability. With action it looks best if the actor can perform as much of a sequence as possible so it helps to tailor the sequence to their strengths. Whether it’s Muay Thai for Tony Jaa or wrestling for Dave Bautista, performers need to be comfortable in the character for them to shine.

UNSEEN FILMS: Where did the idea for the neon sign sequence in MASTER Z come from? How difficult was it to shoot?

YUEN WOO- PING: It was something I thought up during development. That Hong Kong street was the main exterior location and they spent quite a lot time (and money) creating these vintage neon signs. So after we shot the rest of the movie, I designed a fight sequence on those signs so we could destroy them! The trouble came when we were about to shoot the sequence and a typhoon was about to make landfall. If it hit us our set, it would surely destroy our signs before we could and at that point we couldn’t afford to rebuild. We went back and forth on a contingency sequence. But in the end we took the chance and stuck to the sign fight. The heavens watched over us and we had perfect whether. We even finished the sequence 3 days early!

UNSEEN FILMS: Could you talk about how you link action to story telling and how that affects the choices when you are designing a scene?

YUEN WOO- PING: The goal is that story and action need to inform one another — story should motivate action and action should tell story. It’s not always about fighting for literal survival. Sometimes I use action to further character moments for example the drinking glass sparring between Tin Chi and Kean or the rooftop fight with Max and Fu, those scenes are to develop the story through an interesting fight.

UNSEEN FILMS: How important is plot to your films? Do you have to have a story that works from start to finish or are you more interested in using the plot to hang the action sequences from it?

YUEN WOO- PING: I try not to over complicate the plot to distract from film because audiences see my films for entertaining action sequences. On this film we had different versions of the script where the drug smuggling plot was much more complicated. I felt that plot dragged on and got rid of it. We just got to the point quickly.

UNSEEN FILMS: How Important is rhythm when you Choreograph a fight? Do you view the sequences as pieces of music?

YUEN WOO- PING: I do see fights as a kind of dance but how that rhythm works with music I left for the editor and composer to figure out. Fights are so logistically complicated that it’s difficult to set that to existing music so music has to accommodate to the sequence.

UNSEEN FILMS: What shot or sequence required the most takes and most work in all the films you've made?

YUEN WOO- PING: It’s probably the bamboo sequence from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. That was a sequence that was really unlike anything I had attempted before that. We were really at height in a real bamboo forest and the logistics were daunting. The first couple days of filming that sequence we got nothing useable. I think at that point it may everyone secretly thought this might be impossible. But we kept at it and the sequence came out beautifully.

UNSEEN FILMS: How do you deal with multiple duties on a film such as directing, choreographing and acting at the same time?

YUEN WOO- PING: Well I haven’t acted for a while so I haven’t had to worry about. Choreographing in China we call action directing. I guess you can call directing drama directing. So to me it’s natural for that to be one job. However when I’m directing a film the time commitment is much greater. For action directing I’m usually just around for the shoot but on this film because I was also directing I spent nearly two years from idea to finished film.

UNSEEN FILMS: What was it like to work with your father? Did it help having him playing say a role in a film where he could help with choreograph and direct a film? What is it like to have a working relationship with your brothers and has it evolved in regard to the new Hong Kong Cinema?

YUEN WOO- PING: It was a great pleasure to work with my father and my brothers. My father was the first martial arts choreographer so he created that position and brought me into the film industry. It was a great honor to direct my first films with him as an actor. Looking back, many of my films are about father son stories and I don’t think that is an accident.

UNSEEN FILMS: Has something been lost now that action sequences have become driven not so much by the action but by editing and special effects?

YUEN WOO- PING: In general I think having too many options and possibilities often hurts the vision of sequences. I got my start in an industry with neither much opportunity to edit or VFX. To save film we developed the “Hong Kong zoom” where we’d zoom in and out in a single take, editing in camera. And VFX didn’t exist at all back them. And we were able to make incredible films under those circumstances. The filmmaker tells the story, everything are tools to help in that process. So even now, I design my fights to an edit, it’s not shot from a bunch of angles and figured out in post. And as much as possible I try to avoid vfx to give a sense of reality to the sequence.

UNSEEN FILMS: You were instrumental in ushering in the modern-day action genre in Hong Kong would you ever return to that genre?

YUEN WOO- PING: It’s actually something I’ve been discussing recently. There are a couple modern kung fu stories I’m developing. We’ll see where they go.

UNSEEN FILMS:  What do you think of the new generation of Hong Kong Action directors?

YUEN WOO- PING: I think the young filmmakers do great work. What I’m worried about is the lack of interest in that line of work. It used to be that young people were excited by kung fu and would practice as a hobby. Then some of those people would find their way in the industry and become filmmakers. But years of hard work for a hobby isn’t appealing to the younger generation and I worry how that will affect our industry.

UNSEEN FILMS: What do you think about the future of Hong Kong Cinema?

YUEN WOO- PING: Hong Kong cinema has all but moved to mainland China because the filmmakers have gone to where the market is. A lot of storytelling is driven by the market, films are more about spectacle and VFX and the budgets balloon in pursuit of a big box office. But having good ideas doesn’t always mean spending big dollars. I hope to see more of those kind of projects.

UNSEEN FILMS: Do you have any thoughts on the seeming increasing use of action spectacles in Mainland films as a means of propaganda?

YUEN WOO- PING:  I don’t think propaganda is the right word. I think films like Wolf Warrior and Operation Red Sea are certainly patriotic, but I don’t think they are trying to convert audience into an opinion they don’t already hold, it’s not that easy to sway people nowadays. I think audiences anywhere around the world want to believe the place they live in a good place to live, a place that stands up for values. If you look st Michael Bay films they are showcases for the American military people Americans and Chinese love his films because they’re enormously entertaining.

UNSEEN FILMS: What non-action films inspire you? Even though you are so attached to action cinema would you ever make a film that wasn't action packed?

YUEN WOO- PING: I've always liked comedy and in fact most people forget that most of my early work were action comedies. Films are meant to entertain and if a non action script speaks to me, I’d love to direct it.

UNSEEN FILMS: Are you going to be involved with Kung Fu Hustle 2?

YUEN WOO- PING: There have been rumors there will be a sequel but Stephen Chow hasn’t called yet!

UNSEEN FILMS: Are you ever totally happy with any film or sequence you direct?

YUEN WOO- PING: When I watch films I’ve worked on I try to see it as an audience member rather than a crew member. Filmmaking is about taming the daily challenges that prevent you from achieving your goals. Weather, time, budget. Sometimes you have to make compromises. Sometimes they’re for the better and sometimes not. But you can’t focus on the negatives or else you’ll be too scared to work again.

UNSEEN FILMS:Will there be a MASTER Z sequel and or series?

YUEN WOO- PING: I could see many ways of continuing the story but there has been no definite plans yet!

Yuen Woo-Ping receives the Star Asia Life Time Acheiveent Award at Monday night's  screening of his MASTER Z-IP MAN LEGACY (Tickets can be had here).

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2018) NYAFF 2019

At the end of IP MAN 3 Cheung Tin-chi (Max Zhang) headed off after being beaten by Donnie Yen. MASTER Z picks up with Tin-Chi living quietly with his son. He runs a store but had made some extra money as an enforcer for a local kingpin (but nothing to do with women, children or good men). Not long from walking away from being the enforcer he runs afoul of Kit and his gang. Part of a large crime family headed by his sister (Michelle Yeoh) kit wants to take over the city via any means necessary, but his sister is looking to go legit. In the initial clash between Kit and Tin-Chi Kit loses. He responds by burning down Tin-Chi‘s house and store. This results in an escalating battle that Kit’s sister fails to stop.

I’m going to be honest the plot of MASTER Z isn’t the best. It exists largely as a framework for the action scenes to be hung on and to allow the actors to chew scenery. There are plot holes aplenty and it’s so perfunctory that you can pretty much come in at any point and know exactly who is who and what is what. It’s never ever bad, but it’s not brain surgery. I just wish there was a little more thought to it because there isn’t a lot of suspense as to what is going to happen.

Then again no one is going into the film for the plot. What we want is an action ballet and good god does this film deliver.

An series of escalating skirmishes MASTER Z has some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in a long time. More old school long than modern the action delights from start to finish. Jin Zhang kicks ass and takes names as he solidly puts him into the pantheon of great on screen fighters. There is a grace and ease to his motion that is a joy to watch, especially when he has such formidable competition.

And competition is the name of the game. From streets or rooms full of bad guys Tin-Chi is forced to fight for his life. In one soon to be classic sequence the battle is above the street and Tin-Chi and his enemies leap from neon sign to neon sign. And when it isn’t hordes of baddies he has to fight the likes of the great Michelle Yeoh, Tony Jaa (who dogs him all film) or Dave Bautista who not only kills it in the battles but also proves he’s a way better actor than you would think from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I want to see him in a straight drama.

On pure entertainment level I love this film. This a film I want to hunker down with in a theater with a big tub of popcorn and some friends on a rainy Sunday afternoon because it is just so damn fun.

Highly recommended.

MASTER Z will also be screening in July as part of Fantasia Fest in Montreal 

Fantasia is two weeks off- go buy tickets

With two weeks until Fantasia starts in Montreal I just wanted to remind that tickets are on sale (go here) and that you should be planning your trip to Canada to partake in the cinematic goodness.

We are looking forward to the festival with Lorcan Finnegan VIVARIUM at the top of our list and almost everything else a close second. I and the rest of the Unseen Films staff have been huge fans of his since we first ran across him several years ago.

While it is impossible to discuss a festival specifically until we actually wade into the films  I do want to tell you that before we even step off the  cliff  there will be a ton of coverage from both myself, and Mr Joe Bendel who is going to be on the ground this year. I will be reposting reviews of around 20 films that have played at other festivals (BLISS, COME TO DADDY, DEPRAVED, HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD, WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE to name just a few) or have played here in the states before their Canadian premiere at Fantasia. Additionally we will have coverage of another 15 films also playing at the New York Asian and Japan Cuts festivals which will be paralleling the festival (For example look for reviews of HARD-CORE, MASTER Z, and THE FABLE as part of our NYAFF coverage this weekend).

We are going to have you covered with more reviews than you is humanly possible so keep reading -but more importantly:GO BUY TICKETS.

Blinded by all the cinematic goodness that is Fantasia


Opening Night film of the 2019 New York Asian Film Festival concerns the changes that resulted with the coming of Commodore Perry's Black Ships to Japan.  One of the samurai, sensing the change in the winds decides to prepare his men for modern life by staging a Marathon. The race is mistaken for revolt and things get dicey, and one man who realizes there is no danger has to stop those looking to end the run for their own political ends.

Okay drama looks great but never quite sings the way it should. Blame it on an unevenness of tone which prevents us from full engaging. While not even remotely historically accurate, and largely being humorous, the film wanders all over the place tonally as some things,such as the Americans are played for big laughs, while other moments are much more serious. I remained outside of everything because I didn't know what I was supposed to feel.

While never bad, it wasn't anything special.

An interesting misfire.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Hard-Core (2019) NYAFF 2019

Ukon and Ushiyama are working for ultra nationalists looking to find the Shogun's lost gold so it can be used to bring back the glory of Japan. As the pair tries to get buy and maybe find some female company, they discover a retro style robot that they adopt. With the Help of Ukon's brother they unlock the robot's potential and cause all sorts of trouble for themselves.

Off beat but incredibly low key and dry science fiction comedy is either going to thrill you with it's off kilter and very rambling take on things or it is going to bore you. Consider the fact that Ukon, our hero, barely cracks a smile for most of the film. Worse the film takes its time going anywhere and when it does its not really what you expected. Trust me on this- I got about 20 minutes into the film when I had to stop the film to look to see what film I was watching. It didn't seem to be the film I thought it was. It was, and soon after the 20 minutes it sort of started to come around to the festival synopsis.

 To be honest I have no idea  whether to recommend the film or not. This is one of those films that you're either going to love or hate since it's sense of humor is so one of a kind. (Somewhere along the lines of if Steven Wright and Jim Jarmusch had a love child and then did science experiments on it). I'm going to guess that not everyone is going to like this.

Personally I like the idea of the film and I like moments but the rambling low key nature worked against me liking the film as a whole. It was a thing that I saw and I'll leave it there.

For tickets or more information for Saturday's screening go here.

Hard-Core plays in July at Fantasia Fest in Montreal

Jinpa (2019) NYAFF 2019

Long distance trucker has a lot to ponder as he runs over a sheep on the road and picks up a man on his way to kill someone.

Wong Kar Wai produced film is going to thrill the art house crowd and potentially drive away anyone looking for anything more than a meditative look at life and karma. I say this not because there is anything wrong, but rather most of the first quarter of the film simply involves the truck driver Jinpa (as opposed to the man he picks up who is also named Jinpa) driving through the wilderness. Yes, he hits a sheep, but that is kind of a non event  at the moment, even though it echoes through the rest of the film.

As meditative looks at existence goes this is really good. While I will say that I'm not certain the pay off was worth the long ride there, I still completely enjoyed the trip.

Recommended for those who like thoughtful reflection over endless action.

Jinpa plays Saturday at NYAFF. For tickets and more information go here.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Festival of Cinema NYC Announces Film Lineup for 3rd Annual Event Sponsored by Regal Entertainment Group August 2nd to 11th, 2019

Camilo Vila’s “5th of July” starring Jaleel White to Open Festival 
on Friday, Aug. 2nd at the Regal UA Midway in Forest Hills

:Misc images:Festival of cinema 2019 logo 1v3 cropped.png

Queens, NY, June 27, 2019 - Festival of Cinema NYC proudly presents its 3rd annual, 10-day event taking place August 2nd to August 11th. Guests will enjoy over 120 films exhibited by state of the art projection and sound equipment in the comfort of the Regal UA Midway’s recliner seats in Forest Hills, Queens. The Festival kicks off on Friday, Aug. 2nd at 7:00 p.m. with the East Coast Premiere of Camilo Vila’s “5th of July” starring Jaleel White, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. On Sunday, August 11th, the festival’s Awards Celebration will be hosted by Queens Brewery in Ridgewood, Queens.

With almost a month to go before opening night of Festival of Cinema NYC, the festival organizers aim to engage Forest Hills and members of the Queens community with the support of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, the  Forest Hills Asian Association, the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Community Board 6. Joining the list of sponsors for this year’s festival is Maspeth Federal Savings, which is proud to support the arts in our community. Festival of Cinema NYC 2019 is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

For its third year, Festival of Cinema NYC steps it up a notch by partnering with several organizations to provide a greater experience. The Queens Library Forest Hills Branch will be hosting five days of special screenings, presentations and workshops, all free and open to the public, located at 108-19 71st Ave. Over at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, non-profit organizations Arte East and the Asian American Film Club will be presenting work from their respective organizations. On Wednesday, August 7th, Festival of Cinema NYC presents The NYC Indie Film Collective Filmmaking Challenge. Throughout the month of July, 12 filmmaking teams have been challenged to create and produce a seven- to ten-minute short film. These films will be screened, in competition,  for the first time at the Regal UA Midway followed by an after-party at Buffalo Wild Wings in Forest Hills. 

The East Coast premiere of “Quest” by director Santiago Rizzo, which features Lou Diamond Phillips, Dash Mihok and Betsy Brandt, closes the festival on Saturday, August 10th.

Tickets to Festival of Cinema NYC will go on sale on Monday, July 1st, and are priced at $16 for regular daily screenings. Opening, Closing and the Film Challenge Red Carpet Event are priced at $25 and include entry into the after parties following those screenings. For tickets and more information on the Festival, visit

Festival of Cinema NYC proudly announces the following 125 films (out of over 425 submissions) from 40 countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada,
France, Italy, South Africa, Turkey and more in its 2019 lineup in the categories of Narrative Features, Documentaries, Short Films, Web Series and Animation, Experimental & Music Videos.


Steve is cutting back or why coverage for the next couple of weeks will be less intense

Earlier today I received an email with the list of the films playing at Fantasia this year...and I took one look at it and I closed it out thinking. "I can't. I just can't". It wasn't that I didn't have it in me to post the press release, rather I just don't have it in me to cover Fantasia the way I've always covered it...or even if I could cover it at all.

So, as a result and as we’re heading into one of the busiest times of year for Unseen Films with three of our biggest festivals New York Asian, Japan Cuts and Fantasia looking to dominate coverage for the next six weeks, I need to take a moment and say that I, personally, am taking a step back for the next few weeks. I just don't have it in me right now.

This shouldn’t affect the planned coverage of NYAFF or Japan Cuts (I have most of my end of the coverage done), but it may impact Fantasia and anything for the rest of the summer, if only in that I will not be giving over as much time to coverage as in previous years.

Before anyone goes crazy and i get emails or tweets, there is nothing really wrong, I just need to step away. Life on line and especially in the real world has caught up to me and I need to publicly take a break before I physically break. I need to regroup before I charge the windmills once more.

The real world stuff I won't bother going into. Its life. It happens.

As for the on line a large portion of it is the result of  Unseen’s growing reputation becoming a curse. Over the last 18 months we've been having a lot of new stuff thrown us, which has been eating up a great deal of time.  Some of it has lead to great things, some of it hasn’t but all of it has involved extra behind the scenes work. Actually the amount of work keeping things current and going seems to have tripled. I noticed it before Tribeca when I spent several days just organizing coverage and already written posts. I  spent days not watching or writing just administrating. Now I am spending more and more time administrating instead of writing  and I am feeling way behind.

I am severely burnt out, which is something you can see in any piece of mine that is short and not impassioned.

I need to step away (ie. cut way back)- or as much as I can step away  when several of the best festivals in the world throw their wares at you.

What does this mean for you?

If you a reader and fan of the site, probably not a lot. I have posts  scheduled to the end of November so if I walked away and said nothing you’d barely notice- other than the lack of current festival coverage. As I said above my end of our NYAFF is done. I’m hoping to add to it from Joe and Nate and anyone else going. There is also some stuff to tie into the NYAFF guests we are planning on doing as well.  I’ve got Japan Cuts in hand, plus I’ve got a special interview coming so no change there.

Any changes will come after that, with Fantasia, Asian American International Film Festival, and what follows this summer. There will be some coverage of all of that but I’m not sure how much. I need to find a way in, to refire the passion. But we’ll see how it plays out come the end of July when those fests hit.

The real reason I am mentioning this is because I have a lot of PR people and studio people sending me stuff and I want them to be understanding when I say no. I've been doing that a lot recently and I'm going to be doing it more for a while. I also want them to understand that I don’t want them not to send me films, more it’s a request for understanding as to why I am saying no- I’m saying no because I’m not full of fire for what you are sending me- as a result you run the risk of a half-assed review.They don't want that, which is why if I'm not feeling it I will say no. I still want everything sent to me because one never know what may thrill me.

Other than that Unseen will continue as before. There will be no change. There will be at least a film every day for the foreseeable future. Coverage through early August will be primarily festival coverage. After that I don’t know. I hope to be over this feeling and to be able climb back on the beast for the New York Film Festival.

That's it for now.

Time for me to prep a few posts for the next couple of weeks before I take a few days off to stare out a window and wonder what the blue thing over my head is.

Mine 9 (2019) opens in New York at the Quad on Friday

Eddie Mensore’s MINE 9 is a must see thriller about men tapped two miles underground with only an hour of oxygen left before certain death. Not only is it a frightening thriller, scarier than most recent horror films but it also acts as a wake up call for anyone who doesn't fully comprehend the dangers of coal mining.

The film tells the story of a group of miners in a productive mine that is short on everything. They don't have an escape team  and the foreman above ground is sick. Worse their equipment is in need of repair, especially the pump that is keeping the place from filling with water. The mine manager just wants them to keep going because at some point the company will take care of all the work orders she has been sending in when they can. One night after a shift almost goes wrong they decide to wait in calling in the Feds. They all need the money. The next night despite knowing the amount of methane in the mine is on the increase, and still having safety concerns,  the men go back down unaware that they soon will be  fighting for their lives.

Moving and looking unlike anything that a major Hollywood studio would turn out MINE 9 is a deep dark claustrophobic thriller about men in crisis. Feeling incredibly real from the very first frame this film will put you on the edge of your seat and keep you there until the very end.  Shot in a real mine with mostly practical effects there is a tactile quality to it all. We can feel the dirt, we smell the stale air and sense the danger. Once things begin to happen there is almost no music simply the sound the men and the rocks and machines. There is nothing to distance us from what we are seeing. There are no big name actors to act as a hero so we don't know what the hell is going to happen. Death is not spectacular but painful and tragic. Minds and bodies are broken. Blood when it comes, can't always be seen for all the dirt.

What I love about this film is it feels like Mensore found out what would really happen in a situation like this and did exactly that, not what would look good on the big screen or be easiest. Its all dirt and water and pain.Some scenes are dark. Some are confused. People behave as people behave in real life, some rise up, some are broken and heroism doesn't have a thunderous score.  It is an anti-Hollywood film and we are so much better for it.

Whether you are claustrophobic or not  MINE 9 will make you afraid of tight places. There is only so many ways to move and with each explosion or collapse or obstacle the options to get to freedom get fewer and fewer.  It will make you wonder why anyone would go into a place like this. More importantly it will make you wonder why if they are going to go into places like this they aren't going to protect them better.

I was rocked by this film. It gripped me more than almost any film in the last year or so.

You have to see this film because it is one of the best thrillers of 2019.

MINE 9 is currently playing across Appalachia it expands nationally beginning April 19th and April 26th

42nd Asian American International Film Festival Announces Full Lineup

JUNE 27, 2019, NEW YORK – Presented by Asian CineVision, the 42nd Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF42), and taking place July 25 – August 3 in New York City, has announced its full film lineup. The first and longest running Asian interest film festival in the country, AAIFF42 will be presenting 12 narrative features, 9 documentary features, and 67 short films, from 19 countries.

Directed by Diane Paragas - USA
Rose, an undocumented Filipino girl, dreams of one day leaving her small Texas town to pursue her country music dreams. Her world is shattered when her mom suddenly gets picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rose, facing this new reality, is forced to flee the scene, leaving behind the only life she knows, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she searches for a new home in the honky tonk world of Austin, Texas.

YELLOW ROSE will screen on Thursday, July 25 at 7:00pm at Asia Society.

Directed by Justin Chon - USA
From award-winning filmmaker Justin Chon (Gook, 2017), MS. PURPLE  is a poignant drama about Asian American sister and brother, Kasie (Tiffany Chu) and Carey (Teddy Lee), who were raised and are now seemingly stuck in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Abandoned by their mother and brought up by their father, the siblings continue to struggle with deep emotional wounds from the difficulty of the parental dynamic. Now, with their father on his deathbed, the estranged Carey comes home to help Kasie care for him. As they reunite over their dying father, Kasie and Carey confront their shared past, attempting to mend their relationship.

MS. PURPLE will screen on Saturday, July 27 at 7:30pm at Asia Society.

Directed by Julian Kim & Peter S. Lee - USA
HAPPY CLEANERS is about the Choi Family living and surviving in Flushing, Queens. We observe the day-to-day lives of the Choi Family members as they navigate through their respective struggles, cultural clashes, inner angst, all while trying to keep the family dry cleaning business afloat.

HAPPY CLEANERS will screen on Friday, August 3 at 7:00pm at Asia Society.


Directed by Shu Lea Cheang - USA, Taiwan
Described by the director as “Eco-Cyber-Noia,” FRESH KILL centers around a non-nuclear family anchored by mothers Claire (Erin McMurtry,) Shareen (Sarita Choudhury) and their daughter Honey (Nelini Stamp.) A wild ride involving corporate conspiracies, pollution and community activism, Shu Lea Cheang’s debut is a must see. 

FRESH KILL will screen on Friday, July 26 at 8:30pm at Asia Society.

Directed by Hepi Mita - New Zealand
A documentary portrait of the pioneering indigenous filmmaker and activist Merata Mita, MERATA is an intimate tribute from a son about his mother that delves into the life of the first woman from an Indigenous Nation to solely direct a film anywhere in the world. Known as the grandmother of Indigenous cinema, Merata's independent political documentaries of the 70's and 80's highlighted injustices for Maori people that often divided the country.

MERATA will screen on Wednesday, July 31 at 8:45pm at Regal Essex.

Directed by Mira Nair - USA, UK
Mississippi Masala is a tale of how prejudice makes victims and instigators of us all. In 1972, Indian Jay (Roshan Seth), a resident of Uganda, is forced by the bigoted Amin regime to take his family and flee the country. He vows to hate and distrust all blacks--at least until he is able to reclaim the real estate stolen from him by the Ugandan government. Flash-forward to 1990: Jay and his family have settled in Mississippi. Seth's daughter Mina (Sarit Choudhury) makes the acquaintance of African-American Demetrius (Denzel Washington), the prosperous manager of a carpet-cleaning business. 

MISSISSIPPI MASALA will screen on Wednesday, July 31 at 8:15pm at Regal Essex.
Directed by Jeff Adachi - USA
Hollywood has a long tradition of cultural prejudice, particularly when it comes to depicting Asian peoples. For Asian actors, only limited roles are available, and they are often pigeonholed into depicting ethnic stereotypes. The struggle against these stereotypes, as well as the dilemmas facing actors forced to succumb to them, are explored through interviews with Asian actors and filmmakers and in a series of archival film clips covering a century of American film.

  • Paired with the short film THE RIDE
Directed by Jeff Adachi and Jim Choi
THE RIDE takes viewers on a personal and intense ride through the underbelly of the criminal injustice system, seen through the eyes of SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who is one of the nation’s few elected public defenders.

THE SLANTED SCREEN and THE RIDE will screen on Tuesday, July 30 at 6:15pm at the Museum of Chinese in America.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Yesterday (2019) 0pens Friday

Here is slightly modified version of my review of Yesterday which I posted after the film World Premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in May. The film opens Friday and is highly recommended

Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle's film YESTERDAY imagines a world where everyone except one man (Himesh Patel) has any idea who the Beatles are. It is as if they never existed. He then reverses his fortunes by claiming their songs as his own. At the same time he tries to not ruin his beautiful friendship and declare his love to his best fiend, number one fan and manager (Lily James).

YESTERDAY is a truly wonderful film.  It was the perfect way to end this year's Tribeca Film Fest (it was the closing film). One part comedy, one part romance and a couple of parts of musical magic the film delights on pretty much every level. The right sort of knowing, the film uses the conceit of the plot to give us wonderful moments of either laughter or tears as either the music or references to the Beatles pop up where ever we turn.

I will not give examples of the wonders in the film simply because the film isn't released until Friday and I don't want to be the one to spoil anything. Besides if I start really talking about it I will end up saying too much. I will say other than outside of one misplaced performance, the film is a damn near perfect romantic comedy that will bring tears to your eyes. (The romance here is killer)

In all honesty the film is a complete an utter joy, which I fully expect to end up in the Oscar mix as an audience favorite. I also expect it to become the most favorite films of many people for decades to come. While I know some people didn't like the film (I could hear a couple of people with dead souls saying bad things about it in the line to get out) I think most people will fall in love with it.

And yes the versions of the Beatles songs we hear are really good, so good I want to buy the album.

Highly recommended. YESTERDAY opens June 28th.

Tracy Edwards talks circumnavigating the globe and the movie Maiden

I have been in absolute awe of Tracy Edwards since I first saw MAIDEN last September when it played the Camden International Film Festival. Ms Edwards had put a crew of all women together to sail in the Whitbread Round The World Race. Since most men would have trouble doing it  many people didn't think Edwards stood a chance. She proved that they were all dead wrong about her and her crew. 

I had to interview interview Ms Edwards ever since I first saw the film. I wanted to talk to her because I had to tell her what she did was amazing and partly because I wanted to know more about her amazing feat. I haunted the PR people for months until they finally said that Ms Edwards would be at Tribeca and I could sit down with her for a chat.

What follows is more or less what happened  other than some introductory nonsense and my asking for a picture with her (probably not professional but required since she really did rock the pillars of heaven). I want to thank the people at Falco Ink for setting it up, and I want to thank Ms Edwards for the time and for changing the world for the better.

Steve: I have to say I saw the film last September when it played at the Camden International Film and I fell in love with it. I've been talking incessantly about it.

Tracy: [laughs] Excellent
Steve: I've been haunting the PR people for the film since Sundance saying I had to interview you. They said " Tracy's going to be at Sundance" And I immediately go, " Can we do it by phone? Is she going to be in New York?"  And they said "How did you see the film? It hasn't played anywhere.."
 I said, I saw it at Camden and they, they were like, what?

Tracy: Oh, my God. That is so funny.

Steve: Forgive me but what you did was so cool.

Tracy: Thank you.

Steve: I'm sorry to go fanboy just like...But this is so cool. I don't care if it's all women. I don't care who it is. It's just one of the greatest things one could do.

Tracy: Thank you very much.

Steve: I'm sorry. I'm sorry to go crazy.

Tracy: No, not at all. [laughs] I wish I had the same reaction on everyone.

Steve: I went back to see it at the Tribeca press screening and it was great, I got to see it on the biggest screen at the festival.
Tracy: It's great on the big screen.

Steve: Oh yeah. Have you seen it like, on a really huge, honking screen.

Tracy: Oh, yeah. It's very surreal.

Steve: I have to ask one thing, which probably everybody who's seen it has asked which is  How did you film this? Because there is so much footage.

Tracy: Yeah.

Steve: I know there's, I know there's the interview footage. But while you were on the, on the boat, somebody was filming everything?

Tracy: Yeah. So we had, um, It was the first time really Whitbread had thought, "We should have cameras on the boats." And no one was really that enthusiastic. The guys were like, "We wouldn't wanna film me, we've gotta...We've roughty‑uoghty...roughty‑toughty ocean sailing. We got some sailing to do."

And we realized we have to do this because, whether we fail or succeed, there's got to be a record of this because we are the first, and we felt a huge sense of responsibility to the women that came after us. You know that we should record this for posterity. So they said, "OK, so we'll give you some cameras," and we were like, "Great."

And Jo was the cook and she said, "I'll film." So we went, "Right. Off you go." She went to the BBC, did four days training, came back with this bloody camera which was bigger than she was.

We were like, "Jo, you going to be able to manage that?" But she was amazing. If it wasn't for her filming, this documentary wouldn't be what it is, because she's a very empathetic person. And do you know there's stuff there, I know she's filming me, I didn't see it at the time.

I know there were times where she put the camera in my face and I went, "Bugger off." Um, we all did a little bit, "Jo, will you please go away?" I'm so glad she didn't and she kept filming. She learned to be a little bit more secretive about it which is how she gets those great shots.

And we had a fixed camera as well. We were the only boat that had this. When we built the mast we put it on it. And we built the electronics for the panic button. So when Joe couldn't film because we needed everyone on deck, the last person that would hit the panic button, it would start filming.

But of course, we had no way of getting it off the boat. I mean now, they film themselves sailing around Cape Horn with a drone, and it's beamed straight back. What we're doing with Maiden we had to put it in these plastic containers, and hope that we'd see someone, we could throw it over the side and say, "Take that to the nearest land," and off it would go.

When Alex got hold of me to ask if would I allow him to make this documentary "Can I...?" He said, "Has anyone ever done anything with your story?" And I said, "Well, a long time ago." He said, "I would love to. I'm thinking of a drama."

I went, "Oh, OK."

And he went, "Well, because there won't be any footage."

So I said, "How old do you think I am?"

Steve: [laughs]

Tracy: "We did have cameras. I'm not 500." And he went, "There's footage?" I went, "Yeah, there's...We filmed the whole thing." I thought he was gonna die and go to heaven. I mean, he was just like, "This is gold." I mean, it took a long time to find it all.

Steve: How much footage did you get to shoot? Do you know?

Tracy: Oh god, we...Oh, I don't know how much, but a lot. I mean we, we...tons and tons of those old Beta tapes.

I mean, we filled up a warehouse full these tapes, but a lot of them got lost. Alex spent two years finding the footage. I mean that man is dogged, I tell you. I could say, I think some of it is there. I've got some. My mum's got some in this box here and I think, you know, someone's got some over there. And that film studio, they've got some, and...But you know, I mean it was, uh, it was a real labor of love.

Steve: Now everybody takes their phone out, of course.

Tracy: I know.

I think, I think none of us really understood the importance. But Jo really got it, and thank god she did.

Alex has said there was some footage on, on the men's boats but it's, [laughs acting like a person standing uncomfortably in front of camera] it's stuff like, it's a camera. "Uh, we're sailing at 18 knots. We've taken the sail up. We've put the sail down, and we're going in that direction."

He said, but the difference between the girls' stuff is the chassis, the little vignettes of life on board. And, you know, he said, "Jo, you've completely made it."

Steve: Once you got used to the idea,it just was always there.

Tracy: Yeah, you kind of got used to the fact that Jo was around with the camera. I mean, there were times when, you know, in the middle of something you just go, "Would you please get that camera out of my face?" [laughs] She kept going.

Steve: Would you ever do this again? Or would you, say, do it now?

Tracy: Well, I'm kind of doing it again with Maiden. Because we just rescued her and restored her within the Maiden Factor. Um, so this is encouraging the next generation of girls.

Not, not to go sailing, but to do whatever they want to do. We work with schools. We're encouraging social activism within young people about changing their world, about not accepting this bloody mess that we've made, and about making those changes. Um, so Maiden is now basically restored, and she's just about to sail to New Zealand.

We've got these amazing young women on the boat who are kind of us, but younger and fitter. Um, and then we've got trainees on the boat, and we're also raising money for girls' education. So this is Maiden's next chapter. We're not racing, but I think this is just more important.

Steve: Once the movie gets out and everybody knows it all you'll raise tons and tons of money.

Tracy: Yeah.

Steve: How damaged was the boat? How, how much restoration had to be done?

Tracy: God it was...Ugh, it's awful. The first time was not as bad as the second time. This is the second time I've rescued this bloody boat.

The first time was much more about just redesigning her. She looks a lot worse in the film than she actually was.

Um, so we did have to replace some bits of the hull, but mostly, it was ripping everything out and redesigning the boat because women sail differently to men. We have different positions of strength. Um, so we redesigned the boat to make the most of our our strength and how we sail.

Restoring her the second time was a real labor of love, because she was falling apart. So, it was really replacing a lot of stuff.

Steve: Here's a question, you brought everybody together, and everybody went and worked on the boat from whatever. But how did you live? How did get the money to just live while you were doing it?

Tracy: It was a struggle

Steve: Because that's one thing that's not in the movie...

Tracy: I know. There's so much that's not in the movie.

I had done quite well in, in my charter days. It was good money. I managed to save enough to buy a house. My dad left me some money as well. Um, so we had a base, which is great. A lot of people sleeping on the floor. I say this to young people now. They're like, "This just sounds horrendous."

But, girls would arrive and be interviewed. And I'd say, "Right, you're on the boat. I can't pay you. I can give you a bed and I can feed you, but you'll have to find a, find a job. And you'll have to work on the boat." And they go, "OK." [laughs] So we would work all day in the yard, maybe 10 or 12 hours a day. Then we'd go and work in a pub, or a restaurant, or whatever, and then we'd spend the weekend selling stuff at boat shows to make money to keep going. We also brought in bits and pieces of sponsorship.

And we'd funded a certain amount of the project before King Hussein came in with the, the final amount. But it was, god, it was hard. I mean, we lived hand‑to‑mouth.

I think Alex ha‑started out with a five‑hour film and he had to get it down to an hour and, and a half. And I think a lot of that the, sort of the basic minutia thing that had to go. He keeps threatening he'll release the five hours at some point.

Steve: Have you seen the five hours?

Tracy: No. [laughs]

Steve: You don't wanna see it? [laughs]

Tracy: No. [laughs]

Steve: Do you have a problem watching yourself?

Tracy: It's very weird.

I do have to say though there are bit where I'm saying to camera, "I have found 12 women." I'm like, "What? Are you practising to be a member of the royal family? What is that? Why are you talking like that?"

You know, 'cause obviously I thought that that's how you had to speak to the camera.

But then there's other things where I say something quite profound and I think I don't remember ever saying anything profound when I was young. Where did that come from? That's not me. It doesn't feel like me at all.

Steve: Were you aware that you were acting differently according to the situations? Did you have to learn how to handle the press?

Tracy: Yeah. Absolutely. But I had so many amazing people around guiding me. My first press conference I ever did, I announced the project and then ran off because I was just mortified, and embarrassed, and had never spoken in public before.

So Admiral Charles Williams, who was the head of the Royal Naval Sailing Association, who organized the race, he had to get me from the toilets and bring me back in and say, "You have to answer questions now." But he was wonderful and he spent a whole day teaching me how to be interviewed which he didn't have to do.

You know, there were some men that really supported us and he was one of them. And he was so old school. It was, you know, terribly, terribly like this. [mimics upper crust British accent] "Admiral Charles Williams, Royal Navy."


But he was just wonderful. And Howard of course. But I was learning, we were all learning on the job. So I started out being a fundraiser and then someone said, "Well, you have to now be a PR person." OK. So I learned how to do that.

"And you have to be a manager." "OK, I'll learn how to do that." "And because you can't find a skipper, you're also going to have to skipper the boat." "Uh, OK." So it was just assimilating all these different parts, because we were just making it up as we went along. I mean, there was no format ready for what we were doing.

I look back at it now and I think, "How the hell did you pull that together?"

Steve: How hard was it to navigate in the rough seas? How did you take readings? Did you have to do it by yourselves?

Tracy: We had one of the first ever satellite navigation things on board. The big problem was though that they hadn't put all the satellites in place. So they sold us this gear. And the satellites were intermittent, at best. So it was a mixture of dead reckoning which is basically guesswork, using the satnav when it came on and when you could grab a position. And using the sextant when you have any sun or, uh, or whatever. That was a time of, of huge change. And we were using sort of last century stuff, with the next century stuff. The nav station was like a journey through history.
Now you walk into a nav station, it's all boring electronics. But those are the days, it was really interesting.

Steve: I know you were worried about weight and I know the electronics of that period...

Tracy: Huge.

Steve: I can't imagine doing like Shackleton sailing the little boat and stuff in the rough seas. I'm going like I can't imagine anybody actually doing that and not getting lost.

Tracy: We did it sometimes. You have to. But a lot of it is dead reckoning and you kind of get used to...I‑, it's something that is instinctive. You learn, kind of get to learn the speed of the boat, the way she's drifting sideways, the...It's like a sixth sense really.

At one point we did reckoning for nine days because there was no sun and there were no satellites. And at the end I was 26 miles out, which the proudest moment of my life, I have to say. My biggest achievement and No one knows about it.

Steve: And there is something I wanted to ask you about in relation to the dead reckoning, there's a sense that you beat yourself up when you, when you got into the rough seas and you caused the problem with the, with the mast.
Is it really fair to beat yourself up when there's no way you could ever know that the seas were ever going to be that rough?

Tracy: I shouldn't be where we were. That's the thing. I, I put us in a bad position. And, uh, I, I am very... [sighs] I do this to myself a lot. I am my own worst critic. No one criticizes me more than I criticize myself. I was frustrated and angry that I'd made a stupid mistake. If it had been an honest, you know, I thought this was gonna to happen and everything else, but it was a stupid, stupid mistake and I've never got over it. It is still something which wakes me up in the middle of night and I go, "Oh god, why did I do that?"

Steve: You can't really have known.

Tracy: No, no, no, you can have more of an idea. I mean, if, if you're reading your weather charts properly, if you're looking at your weather and you assimilating the information, information correctly, then yes, you should be at the right place.

Steve: And sometimes the right place isn't what you thought it was. I still don't think you should beat yourself up. [pauses to look at notes] Your mother rode in the Isle of Man TT?

Tracy: She rode a motorbike around the course.

Steve: Oh my god.

Tracy: A Triumph Tiger.

Steve: I had to ask. My father's dream is to go to the Isle of Man. I can't tell him that your mother did that 'cause it will kill him.

Tracy: [laughs] Well, my uncle lost his arm on the, the Isle of Man TT course.

Steve: He was racing?

Tracy: No, hhe wasn't racing, riding a practice round, came off and, um, yeah, lost his arm.

Steve: Do you ride motorcycles?

Tracy: No. [laughs] I did it when I was a teenager. I did everything when a teenager.

Steve: Oh. You're not doing now.

Tracy: But...No. But I come from a long line of very strong women. I had a lot to live up to my family, let me tell you.

PR Person: one more question, if possible?

Steve: OK. Let's try this. So what was the coolest thing that's happened to you as a result of you doing this?

Tracy: Wow, no one's ever asked me that before. [Thinks] Oh my god. Uh, Maiden opened so many doors for me. She changed my life forever. She gave me access to opportunities. I did other all‑female crews. I did a lot more firsts, more all‑female crew firsts and broke loads of records. I guess getting the MBE was [laughs] fairly unexpected. I remember my mom, my mom, my brother, and I were at Buckingham Palace. [laughter] Which is surreal anyway. And so, you know, expelled from school when I was 15, complete drop out, kind of wangled my way through life. And she looked at me and she went, "Well, who the fuck could have expected that?" The only time I've ever heard my mother swear.


Steve: It was probably her proudest moment.

Tracy: She said, "That was unexpected, wasn't it?" I went, "Yes, that was rather unexpected." "God, how did that happen? My brother went, "I have no idea because I'm the intelligent one in the family." I went, "Oh, well, there you go, you see."

Steve: Uh, it, uh, wha‑...Before they come back and drag me off. Is there anything else that nobody's ever asked you you thought they have?

Tracy: Oh my god no, I have no idea. I think I've been asked every question in the world... apart from that one.

I think maybe, I think what I've learned most about the film coming out is that I have spent the last 30 years thinking, "Yeah, Maiden changed my life." But, you know, it was my daughter who said to me when someone came up  and said, "Oh my god, I think you're so amazing. What you did was so brilliant. And, "Oh my god, I can't believe that you..."

And you know, and I just went...I did what I always do and I went, "Oh no, really, it was, um, no, it's nothing."

And after she left, Max, that's my daughter, said to me, "That is so rude, mom. Someone wants to tell you that they think you're amazing and you are so rude."

She said, "What you need to do is say, 'Thank you so much. I'm really proud of what we achieved.'"

And I went, "Oh my god."

And then the film happened at the same time and I think we all, all of us went through this revelation that. "We did that and actually, I'm really proud of what we did," and it's the first time I've ever said it, ever.

Yeah. And now I think it is cool. I've spent a long time going. "Oh, it's nothing really. Nothing. Oh god, please don't, please don't praise me. Oh god."  I mean being English, of course, is the worst anything and being a female. And, you know, I used to be Roman Catholic so I'm programmed to be guilty about everything.  And to find it really hard to accept anyone telling me I'm good at something.

The film has really, really helped. So, and I think, as well, what it's done is it's, it's allowed us to talk about what we did with our children, without it being, "Oh well, I did this," because they want to talk about the film and that allows us to talk about it. It's been an extraordinary experience.   I feel very lucky.

MAIDEN opens in theaters Friday June 28 and is very highly recommended. My review can be found here. Nate Hoods can be found here.

Tracy Edwards and yours truly. And while it may not be the most professional  of pictures it's damn cool