Filmmakers can sometimes exist in what seems to be a dichotomous space. They are not defined by the stories they tell and yet they often have personal insight which enables them to be the best qualified to tell a particular story. While it’s their talent that makes them so great in their vocation, there are unavoidable ties to certain inclinations.
Producer Rebecca Shuhan Lou knew from the moment she saw a single transfixing photograph that she wanted to create the film Our Way Home. From that moment to producing simultaneous bicoastal production teams, Rebecca confirmed to all who knew her that once she catches a creative spark she is tenacious; a most exceptional and admirable attribute for a film producer.
When Alle Hsu (director) showed Rebecca a photo of her father in his early 20’s, holding a football while sitting on the hood of a 1950s Ford Falcon, it prompted the question of how life appears in a photograph contrasted to what it was like to experience during this era in the United States. Starring Anthony Ma (of S.W.A.T.,Dear White People, Scandal) as James Chou, Noam Shapiro as John, Jennifer Soo (award-winning actress know for Mango Sticky Rice, Izzy) as Barbara Chou, and Gareth Yuen as Robert Li,Our Way Home is a story of the complexities and layers of racism set in 1962 America.
After James picks up his older sister Barbara from college for Thanksgiving, they have a brief encounter with the establishment’s racist owner. After making a proud exit, they are followed. This is where the story becomes more real and more threatening, albeit in a most unexpected scenario.
Our Way Home has received global praise during its international premiere at the Oaxaca Film Festival (Oaxaca, Mexico), as an Official Selection of the Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival (Palma de Mallorca, Spain) and Manhattan Film Festival (NYC, NY) , as well as its premier at the Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival (LA, CA) .
Rebecca Shuhan Lou is currently working with Alle Hsu (director) on the upcoming feature film Queens which also depicts the Chinese-American experience in America. It’s the true coming-of-age story of a shy Chinese-American college student from Queens who finds herself thrust into the spotlight of the 1964 World’s Fair pageant as her family adjusts to the arrival of her grandmother from China; a woman whom she hardly knows.
Perhaps most unique about Queens is that it views many of the most pivotal facets of this era in US history such as the World’s Fair, beauty competitions, the Vietnam War, and the rise of modern Hollywood, through the vantage of an immigrant at the time.
The story resonates from a personal core as well as a universal one; the key ingredient to any great film. To realize the film, Rebecca appealed to professionals who might appreciate the originality it has to offer. She illuminates, “To obtain financing, we were proactive in sharing the project with industry professionals. We shared the script with agents from both CAA and CAA China, award-winning producer Janet Yang, organizations and communities like Women in Film, and the SFFILM FilmHouse Residency.
They all fell in love with the story. We also have support from the Asian American and Chinese communities, particularly organizations like CAPE. Besides Hollywood, we’ve also shared the project in the Chinese film industry where we received even more attention since the grandmother in our story is based on Zhang Youyi who is a popular historic figure in 1920s China.”
Reinforcing the idea that every generation has their own perspective through which to frame a story, Rebecca continues, “I used to think that so much of the immigrant experience in regards to one’s identity was about negotiating which values to keep alive and which to leave behind. Popular media, such as Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club” reinforce the misleading idea that Chinese and American values, or otherwise traditional and contemporary ones, are and forever will remain irreconcilable.
In Queens, this popular belief is shown through the conflicting beliefs between Barbara’s older brother Frankie and her older sister Rose causing Barbara to be increasing confused about her identity. Yet, the holistic humanism of grandma NaiNai shows the family that things need not to be so drastic.”
In order to understand how the present times will continue forward in a (hopefully) benevolent and kind manner, we must build a bridge between how these times were previously presented and what has been discovered about them since. Rebecca Shuhan Lou is committed to this investigation as a filmmaker. Specifically, as a filmmaker who has a direct connection with Chinese and American culture, she is ideally suited to bring these ideas to the public in the format of film.
These films are imbued with a sensibility of tradition and adventure; one that has universal appeal. Rebecca Shuhan Lou is indicative of her generation of filmmakers. Storytellers who create works that relate and appeal to everyone while transferring new ideas.