Hide and Seek: All About Stalking in Asian American Short Films

If this year’s crop of short films at the 27th Asian American International Film Festival in New York is any indication, we’re really good at being stalkers and stalkees. Here’s some lessons based on the films that I’ve seen so far:

You need a go-between if both parties want to simultaneously stalk each other.
Bicycles & Radios: greying Radio DJ hooks up “two wounded souls”. They end up following each other to buy batteries at the store and running to a pay phone to call in to the radio station at the appointed hour.

Take up to three years (or 1,000 days, whichever comes first) to confront your stalker.
Doki-Doki: female commuter takes notes on all of her fellow travellers throughout the seasons. She finally gathers up the courage to confront the pre-school classmate who takes the same train every day.

Never approach more than three feet if you don’t want sparks to fly.
3 Feet Apart: in this animation, the protagonist is born with a cell phone is his head. He meets his dream girlfriend, who was born with speakers in her head. Whenever they get too close, the feedback drives everyone nuts.

Get some of their clothing before making sotto voce declarations of love.
In Sangam, the Indian immigrant gives up his scarf in order to woo an Indian American man on the train to be his wife.
In Green Stalk, a Filipina store clerk gets caught up with her female customer’s private items of clothing

Try to speak their language, even if they have no idea what you’re saying.
The Bakery: non-Chinese speaking Joy is followed and saved by a Cantonese speaking Caucasian

If you’re dead, stalking can save your life.
In Fate, a cupid-style angel stalks a female office worker to figure out why she is always so sad. (Bonus points for a director that can sneak in Jay Chou as a soundtrack to a movie with Filipino co-stars).

To top it all off, all of the movies in the 64 Hour Film Shootout needed to insert in some way the theme “Hide and Seek”. If this is not a conspiracy theory, I don’t know what is.

That being said, this year is unique in that the shorts are much more numerous and are of much higher quality than anything I’ve seen in the past; in fact, I’m only going to see one feature length program this year. (I did see Chinese Restaurants, which is actually 3 episodes of a 13 part series, so that wasn’t really a feature — absolutely incredible that there was like 5 minutes of air time explaining Hakka Chinese) . In four or five years, I hope that this generation will be putting out mainstream features.

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