2020 was a challenging year for a lot of us, and the film industry was no exception. But some local filmmakers were able to get their work completed and out to the public. Vivian Hua, the executive director of Northwest Film Forum, joined us to share some of her favorite locally produced films of 2020.
Hua: "The Invisible Father" debuted at Local Sightings Film Festival this past year in 2020, and it was made by local filmmaker Thérèse Casper. And it's basically about her journey, getting to know her famous artistic poet dad that she didn't really know growing up and sort of had to piece together through archival footage and other people's stories about him.
It was just like one of those where I think it just wasn't a close relationship growing up and famous in terms of like he was friends with Andy Warhol and was part of that New York scene at that time and was an experimental filmmaker as well. So I think growing up, she didn't grow up with him directly. And as she got older, she came to know him and understand him more.
Hua: It's a film that director Tran Quoc Bao had been trying to make for many, many years and went through many struggles with Hollywood funding, independent film funding and people not really understanding for a long time that there could be an independent kung fu feature narrative film with three people of color as lead kung fu action heroes.
The name of the movie is "The Paper Tigers," and the reason it's named that is it's basically about three sort of washed-up, aging, former martial arts students who need to get revenge for the death of their master. But they've since kind of aged out and are like sort of deadbeats and need to get back in shape.
Hua: "Borrufa" is actually made by a Portland filmmaker, and it's all shot on 16 millimeter. It's kind of a polarizing film, but I loved it. It's one of those films where every scene just goes on forever follows an undocumented immigrant family. There's some family turmoil, when she [the main character] discovers that her husband has a second family, but like still not necessarily wanting to let go or making the decision of whether or not to let go of it.
But, yeah, it's one of those things where some people are like, “I don't understand why I'm watching this. It's so boring.” But then other people who like it just find it to be like endlessly fascinating despite the incredibly long takes.
I just like the fact that the director, Roland Dahwen, has their vision and it's just very uncompromising about that, and it's not about satisfying someone's specific palette other than their own. And I can appreciate that.
Vivian Hua is a filmmaker and the executive director of Northwest Film Forum.