Featured Interviews

Jason Bateman on Bad Words

Jason Bateman copyright Focus FeaturesHollywood actor Jason Bateman talks about his debut directorial feature “Bad Words.” He  stars in the film as a 40 year old man who discovered a loophole and decides to participate in a spelling bee contest meant for middle school kids. And since this is a spelling bee contest one of his challengers is a South Asian kid played by Rohan Chand of HBO’s “Homeland” fame.

Bad Words,”  has a bit of a dark edge to it. We see a very different Bateman int his film. His character in the film has a rough and abrasive edge that takes us by surprise initially, and we wait for the mellow Bateman to emerge. He kinda, sorta does in the end, but you have to watch the film for that. The film is R rated.

As a director Bateman does a pretty good job with the film and it is hard to believe that this his debut feature film. I guess we can expect to see more films by Bateman as a director. It will be interesting to see what his next film will be about.

In this interview Bateman talks about his preparation as a director, how he and his crew worked on the storyboard and shots for the film and how they selected Rohan Chand for the film. We also find out about the first record album his mother got him from England.

Bad Words” opens on Feb 28, 2014 all over the US.

This interview was recorded in San Francisco.

Photo credit: Focus Features

Related Link:  A short video clip of the interview with Jason Bateman.

Yoga, Yogis, Magic & Films At Asian Art Museum With Dr. Qamar Adamjee
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Yoga, Yogis, Fakirs, Magic & Films  is the subject of a fascinating exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. In this interview Dr. Qamar Adamjee walks us through a visually rich exhibit that traces yoga’s 2,500 years old history. She is an associate curator for South Asia at the museum.

Today, yoga is a multi-billion dollar business and is practiced by millions around the world. In today’s world yoga is synonymous with exercise, specifically with various types of “asanas” (poses) like downward-facing tree, downward-facing dog, crane, bow, cobra and so on.  And finally  today yoga is also associated with various forms of breathing techniques or Pranayama. But,what do we know about the hidden history and evolution of how yoga started? How was it perceived by the west? How did technology help spread viral images of yoga, yogis and fakirs around the world?

The “prana” or life of yoga started about 2,500 years ago in India. Over the course of centuries yoga evolved and went through different stages and it is this evolution and transformation that is captured through art, music, films and multimedia at the Yoga exhibit. This is  the first major exhibit on yoga in the world and San Francisco is the second city to have this exhibit after Washington DC.

Dr. Adamjee walks us through the exhibit and shares how yoga evolved and the landscapes where yoga was practiced by yogis. Think Mount Kailash which is located in the Tibetan plateau and is a holy pilgrimage place for Hindus. Yoga was embraced by Jains, Buddhists and other religious sects with in India.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of the exhibit is how the west perceived yogis in the late 19th and 20th centuries. This is when knowledge about yogis and yoga spread through modern technology and communications like postcards and films. It appears that by mid-19thc the word “fakir” was used quite a bit when it came to describing yogis and the magical powers they possessed. For example, there is a fascinating 1902 silent film by Thomas Edison called “Hindoo Fakir,” that is basically a magic show of sorts by an Indian magician.

It is only in the last 40 years or so that yoga has become synonymous with asanas or poses. You can discover the hidden and untold history of Yoga and how it was perceived by the rest of the world through the ages at the Yoga exhibit at the Asian Art Museum from Feb 21 to May 25, 2014.

Photo credit: Asian Art Museum . AAM Yoga Group of Fakirs 21s EX 2014.2.116Group of Yogis, approx. 1880s, by Colin Murray (English, active 1871â??1884). India. Albumen print. Courtesy of Collection of Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, 2011.02.02.004.

 

Related Post: Koringa, The Only Fakir In the World by Dr. Qamar Adamjee

Bridging The Gap At CAAMFest 2014 with Masashi Niwano
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Masashi Niwano talking about CAAM Fest 2014 on The Kamla ShowMeet Masashi Niwano, festival and exhibition director of CAAMFest 2014. In this interview he walks us through what you can expect to see in this year’s  annual festival of films, food, and live music  organized by San Francisco-based Center For Asian American Media. Previously, the festival was called San Francisco’s Asian American Film Festival. The 11 day festival is from March 13-23, 2014 in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland.

This year’s theme is the bridge, which is a fitting one when you think what the festival tries to achieve.  They try to connect and bridge the gap between various communities with films, food and music.

The opening night film is a delightful Vietnamese-American film “How To Fight In SIx Inch Heels.” This is the US premier of the film and will screen on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at San Francisco’s Castro theatre. Kathy Uyen, who stars in the films is a local SF bay area native. She grew up in San Jose. ”

Delano Manogs” is the closing night film that will show at Oakland’s New Parkway on March 23, 2014. The film is about Larry Ltliong, a Filipino farm worker who helped form the United Farm Workers.

Packed in-between the opening and closing night films are shorts, documentaries, feature films along with live music shows and conversations and meetings around food. There is also a special tribute to the famous Hong Kong filmmaker Run Run Shaw. He is often credited for the popularity of kung fu movies, a staple from the Hong Kong film industry.

This year there are a handful of films by South Asian filmmakers from India, UK, Canada and the US. They include Mahesh Pailoor’s “Brahmin Bulls” (US), Meera Menon’s “Farah Goes Bang” (US), Richie Mehta’s “Siddharth” (Canada), Amit Gupta’s “Jadoo” (UK) and a retrospective of Ritu and Tenzing’s films.

Live performances include music from Korea, Vietnam and local artists from the San Francisco bay area. K-Pop’s Lee X Stereo and Glen Check will perform on March 20the and Vietnam’s Queen of Hip-Hop Suboi will make her US debut on March 22, 2014 in San Francisco.

For tickets and information please check CAAM’s festival site.

Photo credit: Masashi Niwano

Oscar Nominated The Square’s Jehain Noujaim & Karim Amer Part-2
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Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer copyright The Kamla Show 2014Oscar nominated “The Square” is a powerful documentary that puts you right in the middle of the streets of Cairo- esp Tahrir Square, which was the epicenter of the Egyptian Revolution.

Tahrir Square or the “maidan” is where director Jehane Noujaim and producer Karim Amer spent many months capturing the unfolding of the revolution. “The film gods were looking after us,” says Jehane.

People were fighting for their basic rights like food point out the filmmakers. People found each other says Jehane and that is where the filmmakers found the people whose story they follow in the film. And Tahrir Square became “the battle of narratives,” adds Karim.

The filmmakers spent over 2 years of the revolution that saw the fall of one government and the installation of another and the fall of that government too.

In Part-2 of our interview Jehane and Karim take you behind the scenes and share how they made this documentary. They also share how they re-cut the film and how their editor Pedro Kos helped with that.

“The Square” has won awards at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival.

The film was acquired by Netflix, where it is available.

You can listen to Part-1 of our interview in case you missed it.

This interview was recorded in San Francisco in December 2013 and you have the option to watch the video interview with the filmmakers.

 

The Filmmakers of The Square – Jehane Noujaim & Karim Amer
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Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer copyright The Kamla Show 2014Jehane Noujaim & Karim Amer are the  filmmaker of  Oscar nominated documentary film The Square.” We bring you a 2-part interview with the filmmakers on how they made this film in Cairo, Egypt.

In Part-1 Jehane and Karim take us behind the scenes and share how they made this very unusual documentary that traces the birth of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Sitting in the comfort of our homes, we watched the revolt unfold in Tahrir Square on our TV and computer monitors. We saw President Mubarak’s  government topple and a new one come in its place and  that government also collapsed.But,  ever wondered what was it like to be right there in the middle of Tahrir Sqaure?  That is what “The Square” is about. You are right there in the middle as the filmmakers take you through months of protest in Tahrir Square.

How did the filmmakers find the people whose story they follow in “The Square”?  ”People found each other in the Square,” points out Karim. Through the lives of a young activist, a Muslim Brotherhood member and other activists the film  puts you at the heart of the agitation and gives you a close view of that tumultuous period in Egyptian history. People were fighting for their basic survival needs like bread explain the filmmakers.

They also share how Netflix came to acquire their documentary. This is the first documentary Netflix acquired for its original content series and released it online in Jan 2014. “The Square” is up for an Oscar (2014) in the documentary category.

Jehane Noujaim has been making documentary films for close to 10 years now. She directed the film and Karim Amer produced it. Pedro Kos is the editor of the film.

We met with the filmmakers in December 2013 in San Francisco and recorded the interview.

Watch a short video clip on how Netflix acquired the rights for “The Square.”

Silicon Valley’s Cinequest Festival Co-founder & Director Halfdan Hussey
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Halfdan Hussey - credit: Cinequest.orgEvery year Silicon Valley holds its annual Cinequest film festival that is a fusion of technology and arts. This year Cinequest  is celebrating its 24th year in  downtown San Jose from March 3-16, 2014.

Our guest today is Halfdan Hussey, co-founder and director of Cinequest Film Festival, who shares the highlights of this year’s festival. Connect is the theme for the 2014 Cinequest. Connecting & discovering new worlds, artists and innovation is what the festival aims to do this year says Hussey.

The Grand Seduction” is the opening night film. A Canadian comedy film it stars Taylor Kitsch, Brendon Glesson and is directed by Don McKellar.  Director Joel Surnow’s Small Time” is the closing night film starring Christopher Meloni, Dean Norris, Devon Bostick, Bridget Moynahan, and Kevin Nealon. Surnow (“24″ fame)  and Meloni will attend the festival on the closing night.

Marty Cooper “father of the cell phone” and actor Mathew Modine will be at the festival to receive the newly instituted Maverick Innovator’s Award. Neil Gaiman, the sic-fi writer will be at the festival on March 9 to receive a Maverick Spirit Award. Gaiman is the author of  the comic series “The Sandman.”

Cinequest is billed as one of the top 10 film festivals in the world points out Hussey and adds the festival has grown to become the second largest film festival in North America right behind The Toronto Film Festival (TIFF).

For tickets and information go to Cinequest’s website.

 



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    Hollywood actor Jason Bateman talks about his debut directorial feature “Bad Words.” He  stars in the film as a 40 year old man who discovered a loophole and decides to participate in a spelling bee contest meant for middle school kids. And since this is a spelling bee contest one of his challengers is a [...]

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