MAMM18 Gala Screening – Asian Action

Yeah, I know, I know. An event summary besides my new plan for doing interviews. But I still do these on occasion so why not? Besides, Shaun got to do small capsule reviews on the latest VCFF films, and I figured I could branch out and do another event. Variety is the spice of life. So with an event in town, I set out to cover it in a rather crowded theatre (Vancouver Playhouse) and took my seat high in the balcony as per the usher’s suggestions. I was about 12 minutes late, but I at least got in for Lynne’s speech and to see the return of the costumed filmmakers in a sequel short following up to last year’s. This time, our faithful heroes find themselves pitted against the evil gatekeepers and have to find a way to get access to the venue. Plus, there’s a giant lizard terrorizing the town. So with the assistance of the teams who applied and submitted, they summon Mammazorg, a gigantic robot to fight the fake-osaur and the participation of the audience to save the day. Of course, it’s also announced that these supers may be retiring soon. Maybe if they have time next year, they can take on the close-minded critic and his crooked coverage. Now to get into the films that screened last night:

Block 1 – After one quick technical difficulty like the year before, and every year (who blames the giant monster for this years?) the first screening to come on was Last Night. It was a funny film about two friends (Jennifer Tong and Connor Wong) who plan to meet up at one spot after 10 years for a dance. Unfortunately, the guy dies, and his ghost somehow ends up possessing a stuffed elephant that the girl got in his memory. The girl is hesitant to dance with this elephant toy one last time because she may never see her friend again after this. Good hilarity and powerful feelings to add to the next sweet ultra-short, Whispers Unraveled. Focusing on a woman who looks back at her younger years while at work and remembers her mother. Afterwards we got the strange and rather interesting Paper Dogs. It’s a short film about students living together in a village. Through a common battle-of-the-sexes theme, the girls find companionship in dogs made out of paper and the boys tease them for it, even reporting these paper model pups to the Dean who finds them silly and the crafted canines are set on fire. I don’t know what to make of this honestly. It could be an interesting anime by the sounds of the concept. What came next was the very simple but very nicely made Peking Duck which was about a meal at a restaurant. I could say more about it, but it was an ultra-short and I got hungry just from watching this. Following that was the film, Dreaming, about a young girl in an art class in which she does exceedingly well, and at the same time we learn about her dreaming of being in an art gallery, and a rich man offers her lots of money for her dream. This was an amazing film to watch. It goes to show how there’s a serious price to pay for anything you lose. Now back to some Ultra Shorts, the first of the last two for Block 1 was What I Want, a funny and simple type of film that showed the benefits and disadvantages of having kids. Mainly disadvantages. This film would be the perfect example to show that one guy who keeps suggesting I have kids just because he did. Then there was the humorous Ah Boy which showed an Asian boy trying to get through his life only for people to continuously pester him while calling him Ah Boy. The final film of the block was Hijack, a crazy film about a high schooler and his father who is too busy. The young student named Henry has to put all his faith into his dad’s car who gives him answers to homework questions and recommends doing certain tasks to help him feel better. It’s only a matter of time before the machine takes control. That’s all I’m going to say on this one. After that, everyone for a 15-minute intermission and I got to meet some people I knew while doing so. 

Block 2 – After Lynne gave some shoutouts (wonder why I don’t do that anymore?) it was time for some more films. First came the funny and relatable Cash Cows. Rohit has a huge debt to pay off or he runs the risk of getting deported. When a rather rich and famous young fellow offers him work as security at a dealership, Rohit takes it but ends up struggling thanks to a vandal who throws rocks through windshields at night. When the damage is taken out of his pay and he gets in trouble for standing up to the vandal, so finance is harder than it looks. Ugh, I went through that last year and am almost afraid of it happening again. But man was that funny. Afterwards was the ultra-short When Shouldn’t Can’t Anymore, the very first stop motion ever showcased at MAMM, and it showed some great emotions in the whole thing. Continuing on the Creativity trek, there was OCD that showcased OCD, of course, while we witnessed a student sitting at a desk. Things got more freaky with the horror-type concept of Karak when a young man has a nightmare after having lost somebody long ago. That one freaked out a lot of us. Luckily things were much calmer thanks to Welcome Home, a heartwarming film about kids getting used to living in the neighbourhood they’re settling into. The rather disturbing film Waves (For Ryan) which showed how a bond between friends can go sour because of unexpected plans. This one was such a mix, but things mellowed out with the last two films. We got Ballerina, which was a nice ultra short about a mother and daughter connecting, then I Do, the beautiful short about a man getting married. There was so much excitement and value in this film. All in all, not a bad showcase this year.

Awards – Now to get onto the awards. There were a lot of awards and a lot of presenters, so I’ll talk about some of the greatest that night. Unfiltered Whisper got two awards for best cinematography and best 1st time director for an ultra-short, Hijack got best 1st time director and best performance in a short film (Yes, there is a difference between ultra-short and short), Peking Duck got best screenplay, and best pest performance for an ultra-short. As for some of the very best, Waves won Best Ult Short and Best Director, while Ah Boy won best director for ultra short, and was selected an audience favourite. As far as the favourite short film of the audience,  that was Karak. Some of the audience awards were presented by Mammazorg even, and those wasn’t a single flaw with the voting system. Following that was an afterparty taking place in Vancouver Playhouse’s salon, while the venue had some messy but delicious s’mores for snacking. Once again, MAMM succeeded in Asian power and proved to tell great stories. Everything seemed to be dramas this year. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for VAFF. Maybe I should have a chat with Lynne and/or Regina about what to expect.

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