I think I can safely say the SF Int’l Asian-Am Film Fest‘s White on Rice is the very first Mormon Japanese-American Asperger’s indie comedy I have ever seen. Basically, wackiness ensues when the painfully-awkward 39-year-old Jimmy moves into his sister’s house in Salt Lake City, much to the chagrin of Jimmy’s hilariously phlegmatic brother-in-law and nephew. It’s charming!
So you know how gripe-y Asians like myself always say “people should just write movies about characters and just make the characters Asian; why does Asian-American cinema always have to be about living in two freaking worlds all the time?” Well, director David Boyle has gone and done it! He basically wrote the script after he moved into his own sister’s basement for awhile, and then, because he has a Japanese actor friend who he wanted to play Jimmy, he made all the characters Japanese and Japanese-American and just translated about half of the dialogue into Japanese. (Boyle learned Japanese on his Mormon mission to Australia, and in case you were wondering, Asians made up 2% of the population in Utah in 2004.) For better and/or for worse, White on Rice doesn’t really feel like your standard Asian-American movie — and I still have some gripes with the story itself (because a griping Asian-American film fan is never satisfied) — but dang, it sure is charming!
White on Rice sold out the big theater in the Kabuki on Tuesday night, and will be kicking off the San Jose leg of the SFIAAFF this Friday.