Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mun Chee Yong: Where the Road Meets the Sun

Olga García Echeverría

From July 29th to August 4th, the Maya Indie Film Series will be showcasing a variety of independent films at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theater in Hollywood. If you’re a movie buff like me,
or just someone who wants to check out the latest indie films, you won’t want to miss this one-week theatrical release. Among the exciting line up is Mun Chee Yong’s feature film directing debut, Where the Road Meets the Sun. This poignant film is about four men who are each driven to migrate to Los Angeles from different parts of the world-- New York, Japan, London, and Mexico. The lives of these men intersect at a shabby, Los Angeles’ hotel. It is this highly impersonal and temporary location that becomes “home” for these men in transit. Despite cultural and linguistic differences, the main characters forge friendships that significantly impact their lives and personal evolutions. A timely film, Where the Road Meets the Sun genuinely addresses the multi-faceted issue of immigration in the poly-cultural setting of urban Los Angeles. This isn't, however, a politically didactic film; it's a simplistic yet profound character-driven story of self-reflection, regret, redemption, and pursuing one's dreams.

Wonderfully cast, the film features Will Yun Lee (Hawaii Five O), Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty), Luke Brandon (Lotus Eaters) and Mexican telenovela actor Fernando Noriega (Soñarás, Se busca un hombre, and Machos). This superb acting ensemble delivers solid award-winning performances. The film has already won a total of 5 awards from Worldfest Houston 2011 and the LA Asian Pacifc Film Festival for its great performances, directing, and cinematography.

Admirable also is Yong's resilient spirit in regards to filmmaking. Of all the arts, filmmaking is definitely among the most expensive and difficult industries to break into, especially for women of color. Yong, however, says that she has thrived on the challenges. "I have learned a great deal not only about filmmaking, but also about marketing and distribution. It's been tough, but I have really enjoyed each step and I've been fascinated with the process." When asked what kept her going through all the challenges, she stated, "I believe I am a lucky person and that I have always been lucky in life. Because of this, I always knew I would overcome whatever challenges came my way. Also I really liked and believed in the story. Filmmaking takes a long time, so you have to be sure you love the project you're investing in."

In regards to the inspiration behind Where the Road Meets the Sun, writer/director Mun Chee Yong shared that she has always seen herself as an adventurer. Originally from Singapore, she moved to London at the age of 18 and studied at the London School of Economics. She backpacked throughout Europe and the Middle East until she returned to Asia to work as a broadcast journalist. Eventually she moved to Los Angeles and attended USC School of Film. As a result of all her travels, she met numerous people like herself, people in transit who found themselves living in cities they were not originally from. The friendships she forged at these “rest stops” inspired parts of the screenplay, as did global political events, such as 911 and the backlash of the “war on terror.” It was the need to tell a story that bridged experiences that also motivated Yong. "Regardless of where we come from and how different our experiences may seem, in the end we have so much in common. We are all looking for a better life and for ways to make our dreams come true."



No comments: