(New York/San Francisco)— Making her feature debut, writer-director Joy Dietrich, also a Korean adoptee, introduces audiences to the world of Asian American young women and delicately addresses the abnormally high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American girls, creating a work of great compassion and poetic beauty.
In TIE A YELLOW RIBBON, Jenny Mason (Kim Jiang), a Korean adoptee and aspiring photographer, walks the streets of New York in a state of resigned indifference. Her days are spent with white friends and colleagues, her nights with white men. She has no contact with her Midwestern family due to a childhood indiscretion with her white brother, Joe (Patrick Heusinger). She rejects any attachment, dumping men as fast as she can pick them up. Yet she longs for a connection that would make her feel at home—a home that she has lost and is forever seeking. One day, her roommate asks her to move out, fanning her fears of abandonment. She moves in with the beautiful but troubled Beatrice Shimizu (Jane Kim) and meets super-cool Simon Chang (Ian Wen), whose socially awkward sister, Sandy (Theresa Ngo), lives next door. Raised in the predominately white Midwest, she is both fascinated and repulsed by the other Asian Americans whom she meets. Her indifference toward life starts melting away however, as she embraces Bea, who battles her own self-esteem issues with family and a philandering boyfriend, Phillip (Gregory Waller), and tries to help Sandy overcome her shyness. Jenny’s biggest obstacle is opening herself up to the possibility of a relationship with Simon. Meanwhile, Bea and Simon encourage and help jumpstart Jenny’s career in photography. Suddenly, Joe appears at her door, shattering her current life. As Jenny searches for a voice and photographic style that she can call her own, she finds that she must face her unresolved feelings toward her brother and family, and ultimately reconcile her identity as an Asian American.
“I wanted to make a film that gave nuanced portraits of young Asian American women whose stories are seldom told in mainstream media. The dirty little secret is that Asian American women have one of the highest rates of depression in the United States,” said writer/director Joy Dietrich. “While this film doesn’t attempt to explain the reasons why, it does expose the isolating, alienating factors that make the young women feel the way they do—the greatest among them the lack of acceptance and belonging. TIE A YELLOW RIBBON is ultimately about three young women’s search for love and belonging.”
TIE A YELLOW RIBBON is a co-production of Tie a Yellow Ribbon LLC and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), in association with Gigantic Pictures and Shouting Cow Productions. Additional support was provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (Swing Space), Materials for the Arts and Women Make Movies.
About the Director
Joy Dietrich (Writer/Director/Producer) Korean-born American filmmaker Joy Dietrich started out in publishing, working as an editor and reporter for various magazines and news services in the United States and abroad. While living in Paris in the late 1990s she came to feel that film was the artistic medium that would allow her to express herself most fully. In typical all-out fashion she moved to New York and immersed herself in learning the craft, on her own and without film school. This process culminated in the production of Joy’s autobiographically inspired first film, Surplus, a critically acclaimed 16mm short dealing with the devastating effects of poverty on the children of a Korean family. San Francisco-based NAATA (now Center for Asian American Media) picked Surplus up for distribution in 2001. Joy was awarded a New York State Council on the Arts grant in 2004, a residency from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in 2006. She received funding from the Independent Television Service’s Open Call to write and shoot her first feature film TIE A YELLOW RIBBON.
For TIE A YELLOW RIBBON, Joy won the Best Director Prize at the 2007 CineVegas Film Festival in Las Vegas and the Grand Prize for Best Feature at the Urbanworld Vibe Film Festival in New York. The film has since shown at such well-respected festivals as the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival in Germany and the International Women’s Film Festivals in Creteil, France and in Seoul, Korea. TIE A YELLOW RIBBON will be broadcast on public television sometime in Spring/Summer 2008. Joy now splits her time working for The New York Times and on her filmmaking activities.
About the Actors
Kim Jiang (Jenny Mason) is the daughter of acclaimed Chinese painter Qi Qing Jiang. Born in China and raised in San Francisco, she attended Southern Oregon University and ‘didn’t know what to major in’ until a friend cast her in a play, which turned her interest to theatre, subsequently she lived in London to solidify her study in theatre arts. TIE A YELLOW RIBBON is her first major role in a feature film.
Jane Kim (Beatrice Shimizu) is an actor/model whose work can be seen across many types of media. On television, she has appeared on The Sopranos and Law and Order SVU. Jane co-stars in the upcoming Michael Kang feature West 32nd Street opposite John Cho, Kim Jun Sung, Jun Ho Jung and Grace Park.
After graduating from Juilliard in 2004, Patrick Heusinger (Joe Mason) landed a supporting role opposite Ned Beatty, Alan Cumming, and Lois Smith in the award-winning independent feature Sweet Land. He later appeared in Nanny Diaries starring Scarlett Johansson. Most recently he was Lancelot in the tour version of Spamelot.
Ian Wen (Simon Chang) was hatched in New York City and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College, where he is also an adjunct professor. Most recently, he appeared in Evil, a one-person show based on Swedish novelist Jan Guillou’s autobiography. TIE A YELLOW RIBBON is his first feature film.
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy Award-winning 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.org. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. TIE A YELLOW RIBBON will air on public television stations around the United States during the month of May 2008.
Joy Dietrich, Tie a Yellow Ribbon LLC, 718-383-0484, firstname.lastname@example.org
Randall Cole, ITVS, 415-356-8383, ext 254, email@example.com