One Night at the Grand Star & Double Exposure

Both Films to Premiere Nationally on Independent Lens, ITVS's Acclaimed Series on PBS, May 4, 2004, at 10pm (check local listings)

Mary Lugo 770/623-8190
Cara White 843/881-1480
Randall Cole 415/356-8383 

(San Francisco, CA) Independent Lens presents a double bill of two half-hour films that explore the Chinese-American experience with joy, humor and insight. Natasha Uppal's ONE NIGHT AT THE GRAND STAR and Kit-Yin Snyder's DOUBLE EXPOSURE will air nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Don Cheadle, on Tuesday, May 4, at 10pm (check local listings). 

Natasha Uppal's delightful ONE NIGHT AT THE GRAND STAR celebrates the uniquely L.A. scene at the historic Chinatown establishment, where Los Angelenos of all ages, races and styles party together. The Grand Star Bar has stood in the heart of Los Angeles's Chinatown for over 60 years. Everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Mickey Rourke to Henry Miller has walked through the doors since it opened in 1941. It's in the details that the Grand Star comes alive -- the retro-red lounge, Asian silk prints, deep-set booths, and aging celebrity photos are all deft reminders that the Grand Star is the real deal. 

And, as we soon discover, the Grand Star's present is as hot as it's past. In it's current incarnation, the place packs the house, with cool jazz in the downstairs lounge and raucous dance music upstairs. At The Grand Star, its family style -- no turnover rate here. Coming from a rainbow of backgrounds, we meet the bus boy Lalo Torrez, a veteran of the Grand Star for over 35 years. We talk to DJ Alfred Hawkins, the young soul spinner from the south. We discover more about the Grand Star's legacy from longtimer , a 60-something widow who comes religiously every weekend to soak up the live jazz and the Grand Star's warm community. Fun and exuberant, ONE NIGHT AT THE GRAND STAR is a portrait of a dynamic "local joint” that defines community for generations of loyal patrons. 

Following GRAND STAR is DOUBLE EXPOSURE, in which Kit-Yin Snyder, a New York artist and self-proclaimed "little old Chinese lady," sets out to explore her own identity and prove that it's never too late to take a risk by making her first film in her 60s. The result? An experimental half-hour film that explores her roots in two countries with no-holds-barred candor, self-effacing humor, and beautiful, haunting images drawn from the Chinese culture she left behind. 

Kit-Yin Snyder emigrated to the United States at 15, graduated with a degree from the University of Michigan, married an American, became a mother, survived breast cancer and became an acclaimed artist working in the field of multimedia and environmental installations. As she says, the woman she is now is a far cry from the little Chinese girl she once was. In DOUBLE EXPOSURE, Kit-Yin goes back to China for the first time and tries to track her evolution. What results is a wry, pungent and unforgettable rumination on the wide gap between the Chinese and American views on women, marriage, age, beauty, family, food, and communication – and Kit-Yin's quest to discover where in the gap she fits. As she says, "I think of the film as a way of looking at myself in the mirror, and seeing my reflection in a mask that continually fluctuates between East and West.” 

A Film by Natasha Uppal
Produced by Warren Farnes
Co-Producers: Gower Frost, Matthew Lynch
Directors of Photography: Daron Keet, David Rush Morrison 

Producer/Director/Editor: Kit-Yin Snyder
Executive Producer: Jennifer Fox
Co-Editor: Mathieu Borycevicz
Creative Consultant: Alan Berliner
Associate Producer: Jordan Anderson 

Partially Funded by: The Jerome Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts Fiscal Sponsor: Women Make Movies, Inc. 

Filmmaker Natasha Uppal's background is as diverse as her most recent film, ONE NIGHT AT THE GRAND STAR. She was born in Ottawa, Canada, the child of first generation immigrants. Her father is from New Dehli, India, and her mother was born in Nurnberg, Germany. After meeting in the Peace Corps, the couple and their young children moved constantly from city to city. Natasha found her first home in Chicago while attending The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since graduating in 1991, Natasha has worked as film editor while making independent films. She has received grants for her work from The Canada Council Explorations Program, The Illinois Arts Council, Dockers®Khakis Independent Vision Grant and Film Bureau 606. Her short films have been honored at a variety of festivals, including the Chicago International Film & Video Festival, the Toronto Worldwide Short Film Festival and the Houston International Film Festival. Additionally, her work screened at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and on PBS. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles. 

Kit-Yin Snyder has been working in the field of environmental art for the past twenty years. Born in Guangzhou (Canton) China, she was educated in China and the United States. Her site specific installations have been exhibited in alternative sites such as P.S. 1, Artpark, Snug Harbor, Bryant Park in New York, Sala Unio in Italy, Kunstraum in Germany as well as the Hudson River Museum, the Bronx Museum and the Whitney Museum at Philip Morris. Ms. Snyder has received numerous grants for her work in environmental sculpture, from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation of Arts, the the New York State Council of Art. Her award-winning public commissions include "Margaret Mitchell Square” in Atlanta and "Justice” in New York City (in collaboration with Richard Haas.) 

Independent Lens is a weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker to write "Watching Independent like going into an independent bookstore-you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted." Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further information about the series is available at lens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the web and the weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. 

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving nearly 90 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at, the leading dot-org web site on the internet.

 * * *

Posted on March 31, 2004