It was a happy homecoming for filmmaker Soham Mehta and curator Melissa Hung at the 11th annual Slant: Bold Asian American Images last week. Though Soham now lives in New York, and Melissa in San Francisco, both grew up in Houston and consider it their home. They were thrilled to be screening at the historic River Oaks Theatre.
Slant Film Festival is presented by the Aurora Picture Show and Aurora’s curator Mary Magsamen welcomed the crowd before introducing Slant’s curator, Melissa, to the stage.
The screening was particularly meaningful for Soham, because it was the Houston premiere of Fatakra, his Student Academy Award-winning film. Soham grew up in Katy, moved to Austin for college, then came back to Houston to work. He founded local theater company Shunya, before going back to Austin for film school. Many of Soham’s friends, family, and supporters came out to see the film. Fatakra was Soham’s third film to screen at Slant.
Afterwards, there was a lively Q&A with Melissa and Soham. Inquiring minds wanted to know:
- If it was coincidence or on purpose that the program began and ended with two films (Jaime Lo, small and shy and Fatakra) about families separated by a parent moving to another country for work. (Coincidence that the films dealt with similar narratives, Melissa said, though the bookending was on purpose.)
- How many takes it took to get the shot of the train in Fatakra (Just one, Soham said. He didn’t know when the train was coming by, so if a train were to come by, everyone was to drop everything for the train scene. Luckily, it worked out!)
- Where to tell friends to see these films. (If in other cities, then on the film festival circuit, Soham said. If in Houston, at the Aurora Video Library, which is free and open to the public, Mary said. And also online, Melissa forgot to say. Three of the films: Jaime Lo, small and shy; PIA; and Digital Antiquities are online. Though it’s a richer experience to see them in a theater, of course!)
If you had questions for some of the other filmmakers not in attendance, check out these brief interviews we conducted with the directors:
- JP Chan, Digital Antiquities
- Lillian Chan, Jaime Lo, small and shy
- Tanuj Chopra, PIA
- Yasmine Gomez, Asian American Jesus
And now, for the thank yous! Thank you to everyone who came out to support these films and filmmakers. We were so happy to see such a great turnout. Special thanks to Azuma, which treated us to a tasty dinner before the show.
Thanks to all the local press who promoted Slant:
- Robert Stevenson interviewed Soham for “The Front Row” on Houston’s NPR station, KUHF: Here’s the link to the interview.
- Sunil Thakkar of Masala Radio interviewed Soham last Wednesday. Here’s the podcast of the entire show.
- The Loop Scoop choose Slant as an event pick for the week, and also interviewed Soham about his film and favorite Houston Tex-Mex spot.
- The Houston Press featured Slant as a top of event of the week.
- And Ultimate Montrose, Generasian Radio, and CultureMap also gave shout-outs to Slant.
Also, much love to the national Asian American press who promoted Slant:
Finally, check out Soham’s post about growing up in Houston and his blog post about the screening. To see more photos from the evening (including some behind the scenes shots of the River Oaks Theatre), check out this set on Flickr.
Hope to see you at another Aurora event soon!