THE PARADISE WE ARE LOOKING FOR
Directed by Joseph Mangat, Norbert Shieh, Quyên Nguyen-Le, R.J. Lozada
Produced by Brian Hu, Benjamin To
San Diego has been called many things – including a paradise. It’s also a refugee city, a cluster of neighborhoods, a militarized zone, a border town. And Asian American. This collection of four short documentaries, commissioned on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the San Diego Asian Film Festival, maps many such San Diego’s – across ethnicity, geography and history. At the same time, they hold on to some notion of paradise, however illusory: a haven from war, the dreams of an immigrant, precious teenage reminiscences, solace in the afterlife, and spaces for creative expression.
At the helm are four emerging cinematic voices who grew up in San Diego, have studied here, or who have once called it home. Norbert Shieh’s stirring film essay Two Miles East recalls a 2008 University City plane crash that cast a somber shadow over a military city. Quyên Nguyen-Le’s The Morning Passing on El Cajón Boulevard introduces us to the City Heights mortuary workers who help refugee families grieve. Joseph Mangat’s rousing observational piece Bidyoke thrusts us into the electric immigrant space of a karaoke-restaurant in National City. Lastly, in Reunion ‘99, R.J. Lozada interviews former classmates at his 20th high school reunion in the South Bay, and finds that memories, including his own, are not always reliable.
– Brian Hu
This film is one of 31 films featured as part of SDAFF Online’s May Madness 2020.
Check out the full list here: pacarts.org/maymadness/