Chris Woon is the director of the short film AMONG B-BOYS, a short documentary on Hmong breakdancers called B-Boys.  AMONG B-BOYS screens in the URBAN LEGENDS program of the San Diego Asian Film Festival on October 22nd and 23rd.


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PACIFIC ARTS MOVEMENT: How did you discover the dancers in your film?  What inspired you to make it?

CHRIS WOON: I found inspiration for my film while taking an “Ethnocommunications” Documentary Film course at UCLA, taught by Professor Bob Nakamura.  One of the student films was about Hmong and Mien identity, which included a scene of a Hmong kids breakdancing. I was immediately intrigued.

I’ve been a fan of Hip Hop for a while, and I’d just been getting to know about Fresno’s Hip Hop scene at the same time.  This thriving pocket of Hip Hop in the vast land of Central California, and the knowledge of these talented Hmong kids made me want to find them and tell their story.  But I didn’t know any of these B-Boys, so finding them took persistence and blind luck.

After posting a message online on a Hip Hop website (www.CentralCali.com) I was contacted by  Paulny Yang, a now 24-year-old Hmong B-Boy from Atwater (Merced County), California.  He invited me to a B-Boy jam in Modesto, where we met an organizer of practices for all the Hmong kids in the area.

PAC ARTS: Can you breakdance?

WOON: A little bit. I lived with B-Boys for 4 years during college. I’ve been inspired a little more lately, but not enough for me to let anyone see!

PAC ARTS: As a filmmaker, who do you look up to?

WOON: I get a lot of inspiration from my peers, especially the guys I worked with in Visual Communication’s Armed With A Camera Fellowship, the program in which I made this film. I’m also inspired by people in the community and anyone telling good stories.

PAC ARTS: What’s your next project?

WOON: I Just returned to school and started a new job.  I want to extend AMONG B-BOYS to around broadcast length of 24 minutes or more, and I’m looking for more hip hop-related stories for a DVD I am trying to put together.