LA Weekly People Issue | Jose Tanaka: The Flamenco Guitarist

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Jose Tanaka: The Flamenco Guitarist

by Ada Tseng

José Tanaka was born in Kyoto, Japan. But his parents were so dedicated to flamenco music that they named him José, to make sure he’d always be tied to the traditional Spanish Romani folk art of singing, dancing, guitar and hand claps.

His father had been captivated by the music as a teenager after seeing legendary flamenco guitarist Sabicas perform on television. His mother, who’d been his father’s guitar student, became a flamenco dancer.

“We were a flamenco family,” Tanaka says. “There weren’t many families like us. In our building, the first floor was our guitar shop, guitar lessons were on the second floor, and the rest was our house.”

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LA Weekly People Issue | Jenna Chong: The Hand Model

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Jenna Chong: America’s Next Top Hand Model

by Ada Tseng

One of the fascinating Angelenos featured in L.A. Weekly’s People 2013 issue. Check out our entire People 2013 issue here.

When Jenna Chong books a hand-modeling gig, she often walks onto the set not knowing what the product is, or what she will be asked to do. She might be told to dip a french fry with just the right amount of ketchup, pour pills out of a bottle so that all the logos are facing up, or make a hamburger look happier.

Or even, once, pet a 500-pound African lion.

That assignment came in 2011 while she was hand doubling for Kirsten Dunst on a fragrance commercial. Chong’s fears were allayed by the lion’s trainers, who assured her that the animal would not do anything to harm her — as long as she wasn’t menstruating, and didn’t stare directly into the lion’s eyes. Oh, and no sudden movements.

“They said, ‘[The lion] may want to mark his territory and start urinating on you,’ ” she remembers. “ ’If that happens, just sit still until he’s done.’ ”

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LA Weekly People Issue | Prince Gomolvilas: One-of-a-Kind Playwright

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Prince Gomolvilas: The Only Gay, Thai, Science-Fiction Playwright

by Ada Tseng

One of the fascinating Angelenos featured in L.A. Weekly’s People 2013 issue. Check out our entire People 2013 issue here.

While researching The Brothers Paranormal, his latest comedy-horror play, about Thai-American brothers who launch a ghost-hunting business, Prince Gomolvilas was invited to go on a ghost hunt with the Los Angeles Paranormal Association.

The owner of a private residence in Santa Clarita had reported overwhelming paranormal activity: objects flying off shelves, a pinball machine that turned on even when unplugged, children talking to their invisible friends.

Gomolvilas, 40, who says he’s “always on the lookout for proof of the paranormal,” accompanied three investigators (including Layla Halfhill, a half-Thai American who was on Gomolvilas’ favorite ghost-hunting show, Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures) to check it out.

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Editor’s Diary: Cannes Film Festival blogs for Audrey Magazine

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Day 1 Highlights: Arrival and Anticipation 

May 16, 2013: It’s my first time at the Cannes Film Festival, attending as a writer/editor on behalf of Asia Pacific Arts and Audrey Magazine. I’ve been told to expect a crazy circus — as there are hundreds of screenings for both the official Film Festival and the simultaneous Film Market — and I can’t wait. – See more at: http://audreymagazine.com/author/ada/#sthash.EA2UJCwA.dpuf

 

Day 2 Highlights: The Past and Murmors of a Tony Leung sighting 

May 17, 2013: A dramatic day for Cannes today, including gunshots and a jewelry heist. An employee for the luxury jeweler Chopard found that a safe holding $1.4 million dollars worth of jewelry had been stolen from the four-star hotel room the night before. Ironically, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, about teenagers who steal possessions from celebrities, had just premiered the day before.

 

Day 3 Highlights: Paparazzi fail and Red Carpet rejection

May 18, 2013: After getting a quick glimpse of the beautiful beach weather that Cannes is known for on Friday, Saturday was full of storms and winds. But that didn’t stop crowds from lining up outside the theaters with their umbrellas to wait for today’s lineup of films. Perhaps the rain actually increased the popularity of the screenings, as festivalgoers preferred ducking in to theaters for shelter, as opposed to ducking into overpriced restaurants.

 

Day 4 Highlights: Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son, Bollywood on the Beach & Andy Lau 

May 19, 2013: The sun came out on Sunday, and so did… every single Asian film that I wanted to see.

 

Day 5 Highlights: Gala screening of Miike’s Shield of Straw

May 20, 2013: As Sunday ended with a Midnight Screening that didn’t end until almost 3am Monday morning (and an after-Andy Lau high that probably didn’t end until 5am), the next day would inevitably be less lively. So of course, no better way to start off a “less lively” day than seeing back-to-back films about Cambodian genocide and the Bataan death march after World War II.

 

Day 6 Highlight: Touch of Sin and Bombay Talkies

May 21, 2013: People always talk about how exhausted you’ll be at the end of Cannes, but what they don’t say is: unless you’re smart enough (or funded enough) to come several days early so you can adjust to the new time zone, you actually start Cannes exhausted.

 

Day 7 Highlight: The Anticipation of Gosling

May 22, 2013: No, Ryan Gosling was not there, but despite his absence, my last night in Cannes ended with a bang… plus some stabbing, gorging, and good ol’ fashion beheading. Luckily, the bloodiness was all onscreen, courtesy of Nicolas Winding Refn in his latest film Only God Forgives.

Cannes 2013 Interview with Carina Lau, Chen Kun, and Flora Lau

Crossing Borders: Interview with Carina Lau, Chen Kun, and Flora Lau of Bends

Flora Lau’s debut film Bends, which connects the stories of a recently-abandoned Hong Kong housewife and her mainland Chinese chauffeur, was screened as part of the Un Certain Regard sidebar at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

by Ada Tseng

Two individuals, with quiet desperation stemming from problems on opposite sides of the financial spectrum, share close corners in this story about a wealthy Hong Kong housewife and her mainland Chinese chauffeur. The impeccably dressed Carina Lau plays Anna Li, the isolated wife of a wealthy businessman who has recently disappeared, leaving her with nothing but bills she cannot afford and judgmental socialite acquaintances she cannot ask for help. Meanwhile, her driver Fei, played by Chen Kun, has a family of his own on the other side of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border: a young daughter and pregnant wife that is currently in hiding while they figure out how to dodge China’s one-child policy penalty and find a rare Hong Kong hospital that’s willing to deliver a non-citizen’s baby.

“I wanted to capture what the Hong Kong environment is like now,” says director Flora Lau, of her first feature Bends(過界). “It’s a city that changes a lot, so on one hand, people could see Hong Kong as a place of deterioration, and on the other hand, it represents hope. I wanted to bring different perspectives together.”

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Cannes 2013 Interview with Rithy Panh

Clay Souls: Interview with The Missing Picture director Rithy Panh

The acclaimed Cambodian French director’s new film, about his teenage years under the Khmer Rouge regime in the ‘70s, took home the top prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

by Ada Tseng

“For many years, I have been looking for the missing picture: a photograph taken between 1975 and 1979 by the Khmer Rouge when they ruled over Cambodia.” says director Rithy Panh, in the synopsis for The Missing Picture, a film based on his 2012 French memoir The Elimination: A Survivor of the Khmer Rouge Confronts his Past and the Commandant of the Killing Fields that was recently released in English on February 2013. 

Panh, who had lost all his family before escaping to a refugee camp in Thailand back in 1979, wanted answers, but after decades of searching in newspapers and video archives (much of which was official propaganda shot by the Khmer Rouge), he came to the conclusion that the picture he was looking for does not exist. The Missing Picture is his attempt to document his quest — and create his own images — through film. 

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