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(San Francisco) — On Tuesday, May 9, 2006, at 10pm (check local listings), the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens will present two unique short films that offer a decidedly off-kilter look at contemporary American life.
First up is FISHBOWL, the final film from the late acclaimed Hawaiian filmmaker Kayo Hatta (Picture Bride). Adapted from Lois-Ann Yamanaka's Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers, and set in the sleepy plantation town of Hilo, Hawaii. FISHBOWL is about a brooding 11-year-old named Lovey who is trying to be anything but herself. Ridiculed by the popular girls and picked on by her teacher for speaking pidgin English, Lovey escapes into a world of pop fantasy daydreams. Add to the mix an obsession with the Captain and Tennille, her effeminate best friend Jerry, and an eventful Halloween party and one soon realizes that this is anything but a Disney Channel view of modern youth. Fishbowl is a co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).
Following FISHBOWL is writer/director Sharat Raju's AMERICAN MADE, a poignant, sometimes funny, always real portrait of the age-old conflict between immigrant parents and their Americanized children. We meet the Singh family, who are taking the great American family road trip to the Grand Canyon. Against the wishes of his wife, the turban-clad Sikh father, Anant, has decided to opt out of the overcrowded highways for the pleasures of a scenic route.
When their SUV breaks down on the side of the road, Anant sees their predicament as an opportunity to save the family and tell great stories about their escape from danger. His wife is not thrilled and the older son, Jagdesh, just wants to get on the road, get the trip over with, and head to Manhattan to start his new job. His brother Ranjit, like most teenagers, would rather be anywhere else than with his parents. Especially not stranded in the middle of nowhere.
The SUV's problems are beyond Anant's expertise so he decides to wave down one of the cars that periodically pass by. No one stops. Anant, undaunted, plans to try again. But, will someone stop for a turban-wearing man in the desert? Ranjit isn't so sure, "Dad, no one is going to stop because you look like a terrorist."
Each film's Independent Lens interactive companion website (www.pbs.org/fishbowl and www.pbs.org/americanmade) features detailed information on each film, including interviews with the filmmakers and links and resources pertaining to the film's subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more.
About the Filmmakers
Kayo Hatta (Director/Screenwriter/Producer, FISHBOWL)
Born in Honolulu, Hatta was the director/co-writer of the acclaimed Picture Bride, one of the first Independent films made in Hawaii. The film on the Audience Award for Best Dramatic Film at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. Distributed domestically and internationally by Miramax, the film went on to be a bestselling video in Hawaii and is used in many local schools and universities. The recipient of numerous awards, Hatta earned a B.A. in English from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in Film from UCLA where she directed Otemba, her award-winning first short narrative film. Hatta taught workshops on independent filmmaking at numerous institutions and lectured at several colleges and universities. She passed away in 2005.
Sharat Raju (Writer/Director, AMERICAN MADE)
Sharat received an MFA in Directing at the American Film Institute. His thesis film American Made earned both of AFI's top two honors in directing and has gone on to screen at nearly forty festivals around the world, claiming seventeen international awards. Among the accolades are Tribeca Film Festival Student Visionary Award, Angelus Award Grand Prize, San Diego Film Festival Best Short Film, and British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Sciences (Los Angeles) Excellence in Short Filmmaking Award. In Sept. 2004, Sharat appeared in Esquire magazine as one of twenty young film school graduates to watch. Prior to film school he worked for acclaimed casting director Mali Finn on numerous feature films including 8 Mile, Matrix Revolutions, and Matrix Reloaded. He is currently directing and producing the feature documentary, Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath, a chronicle of hate crimes in the United States after Sept. 11, 2001.