SAN FRANCISCO, CA – At a time when the US movie industry is still trying to concretize what “moviegoing” really looks in a post-pandemic world, there are signs of hope and cheer for film lovers who are banking on streaming platforms to deliver the goods.
Variety reported that only 35 percent of North American theaters are open and tickets have been hovering at an all-time low. The Oscars – normally held in February or early March – has been pushed to April 25, 2021 with no guarantee if it will physically take place or just go virtual. But even with these seemingly discouraging forebodings, opportunities always arise.
As Nichi Bei Weekly columnist Ben Hamamoto wrote a few days ago, streaming has become the vanguard of Asian American content.
Hamamoto wrote: “According to a recent Nielsen report, AAPIs (Asian American Pacific Islanders) are cord-cutting at a much higher rate than other groups, and 82 percent of us subscribe to at least one streaming service. It’s hard to know which is the chicken and which is the egg, but it’s probably not a coincidence that these platforms offered way more Asian and Asian American content than traditional television this past year.”
Just this past holiday season, subscribers to giant streaming platforms were treated to a harvest of Asian films. Two of those are Filipino gems which were celebrated in film festivals all over the world: “Yellow Rose” by Filipino American director Diane Paragas and “Quezon’s Game” by British national Matthew Rosen who has been living in the Philippines since 1986.
“Yellow Rose”is a timely story of a Filipina teen from a small Texas town who fights to pursue her dreams as a country music performer while having to decide between staying with her family or leaving the only home she has known.
Just recently, it became available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play, Fandango Now, PlayStation and Microsoft Movies and TV. It is also now available On Demand on Xfinity, DIRECTV and Verizon Fios TV. Its catchy single, “Square Peg”, sung by Tony Award Nominee and the film’s lead, Eva Noblezada, is available on Spotify, YouTube Music and Apple Music.
In her Director’s Statement posted online, Paragas wrote: “After escaping Martial Law in the Philippines, my family moved to Lubbock, Texas when I was 4. As the only Filipino growing up in Lubbock, I often felt alienated and I used music and art as means of escape… My hope is that ‘Yellow Rose’ puts a human face on the plight of Dreamers, while entertaining the audience with original Americana music that they might not have listened to before.”
“Yellow Rose” is a must-watch on streaming platforms. This film has won 13 festival jury and audience awards, including the Special Jury Award – Best Narrative Feature at the Asian American International Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize – Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and the Best Feature Film Award and Audience Choice Award at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. It was among the Top 100 films of Rotten Tomatoes in 2020.
The film stars Noblezada (Hadestown, Miss Saigon) in her film feature acting debut, Tony Award Winner Lea Salonga (Once On This Island, Miss Saigon), Princess Punzalan (Mula sa Puso), Dale Watson (Friday Night Lights), Gustavo Gomez (The Walking Dead), Libby Villari (Boyhood), and Liam Booth (Ghosts Never Sleep).ELLOW ROSE is the timely story of a Filipina teen from a small Texas town who fights to pursue her dreams as a country music performer while having to decide between staying with
“Yellow Rose” is the feature film debut of Paragas who created the story for the drama with Andy Bienen, and co-wrote the script with Annie J. Howell and Celena Cipriaso.
The film marked a huge milestone for diverse Asian American representation in Hollywood.
“Yellow Rose”– a 2017 ABS-CBN Cinematografo Originals seed grant selection – became the first Filipino and Filipino American film to be acquired by Sony Pictures for theatrical release in the US
On January 27, 2021, the world will observe the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day of remembrance designated by the United Nations General Assembly.
On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism. The UN also encourages development of educational programs to help prevent future genocides.
One of the best stories that commemorates this day is “Quezon’s Game” by British cinematographer and first-time feature film director Matthew Rosen. Produced by ABS-CBN Films in association with iWant and Kinetek, the film has won multiple awards all over the world, including 12 awards at the Cinema Worldfest Canada alone in 2018.
“Quezon’s Game”is the largest forgotten true story of Filipino President Manuel L. Quezon (brilliantly portrayed by Raymond Bagatsing) who risked it all to rescue 1,200 imperiled Jews from the Holocaust at a time when most countries were turning Jewish refugees away.
The Jewish Boston wrote that the film positively “Illuminates Philippine contribution to the Holocaust History.”
Now available via streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and On Demand on Xfinity, Cox and Verizon Fios TV, “Quezon’s Game” is a compelling, relevant watch for the times. According to the Atlanta Jewish Times, the plan to rescue Jews was first suggested to President Quezon over a game of poker by two Jewish brothers, Alex and Herbert Frieder from Cincinnati, who had operated a cigar factory in the Philippines in what was then the American Commonwealth in the Pacific that was subject to American immigration laws. The granddaughter of Alex Frieder, Barbara Sasser, credits the success of the plan to Quezon who she described as a genuine friend of the Jews.
Rosen was touched by the little-known story from the members of the Jewish Association of the Philippines back in 2009. Together with his Filipina wife Lori, who co-produced the film, they decided to retell the truly extraordinary and moving tale on the big screen. In an interview about the film, Rosen said: “I’m Pinoy at heart, and this was truly a passion project for me. The story behind ‘Quezon’s Game’ remains a reflection of the Filipino people today: a warm and welcoming culture.”
The cast includes Rachel Alejandro, Kate Alejandrino, Audie Gemora and a line-up of international actors.