Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2023 10:07 am 
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EUNICE LAU: A-TOWN BOYZ (2023) - NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL (JULY 14-30, 2023)

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TWO OF THE RAPPERS IN A-TOWN BOYZ

A different Asian-American reality - in the South

A 2015 NBC TV feature story shows this is a project that goes back many years. (Eurice Lau's interest in the problems of Asian Americans in Atlanta actually goes back to 2010.) It got a boost from Spike Lee then, and now we have this in-depth documentary about Asian rappers in Atlanta and the gangs they came from, rival Korean, Cambodian, and Vietnamese ones, and how they developed. It's a different picture of Asian immigrant life, far from the image of the perfect family that sends its children to Ivy League schools and instead strives so desperately to start a cleaning business or a jewelry wholesaler that the kids were left in a crib in day care till eleven p.m., crying. They grew up angry, and they joined the various local Asian gangs, which are growing larger.

Georgia gun laws allow gangs to shoot back when attacked: it's legal. A horrifying example of where liberality about guns in America is leading.

Spike Lee told Eunice Lau - a tough lady in a black leather jacket whose English is accented - that "it's not about the rap." "No, it's not about the rap," she agreed, "It's about the struggle. Sharply formatted individual interviews and profiles show the depth of Lau's work here, and we hear from the parents, too. The gangs carry out criminal activity, so group photos have blacked-out faces for anonymity. The splashy intertitles add kick and are unusual for a documentary.

The film follows one progression of a young Asian rap group to a performance at The Velvet Room, a serious mainstream venue, marking their entrance into 'mainstream' rap. But somehow it does not go so well. Further episodes lead to a number of the 'boyz' featured in the film, Vickz, Bizzy, and Eugene getting in trouble with the law and doing jail time. After they get out they tell what it was like. As Asians they were in an extreme minority. Vickz's father buys a restaurant to work with him for a straight life, but Vickz quits after a few months and goes back to rap to 'be my own boss.'

A-Town Boyz, 72 mins., premieres at the New York Asian Film Festival on July 23, 8.30pm ET at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater.
WORLD PREMIERE · Q&A WITH EUNICE LAU

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THE SPASHY INTERTITLES ADD KICK

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