The 15th annual Asian American Showcase, presented by the Foundation for Asian American Independent Media and the Gene Siskel Film Center, runs Friday, April 2, through Thursday, April 15, with screenings at the Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800. Tickets are $10, $7 for students, and $5 for Film Center members. Following are selected films screening through Thursday, April 8; for a complete schedule visit siskelfilmcenter.org.
Children of Invention Few things are more heartrending than a parent trying to insulate a child from poverty. In this impressive debut feature by Tze Chun, a Hong Kong woman and her two children are evicted from their home in Quincy, Massachusetts, and wind up squatting in a vacant condominium unit. The father has abandoned them, and the mother struggles to find some kind of marketing opportunity, parking the children in one awkward situation after another while she presses the flesh; when she's suckered into a pyramid scheme, the family's little house of cards finally collapses. Chun is a colleague of Half Nelson writer-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (in fact, Boden edited this), and, like their films, Children of Invention shows enormous love and respect for those clutching at the short end of the American Dream. 86 min. —J.R. Jones Wed 4/7, 6 PM.
The People I've Slept With The stereotype of Asian-Americans being quiet/shy/polite/modest/cerebral has been subverted in so many comedies portraying them as loud/overbearing/rude/arrogant/stupid that the latter may soon become the new stereotype. This 2009 indie feature stars Karin Anna Cheung as an LA woman and self-described slut who collects snapshots of her one-night stands; when she discovers she's pregnant, she manages to winnow her three-inch stack down to four possible fathers and begins tracking them down in search of DNA samples. Some raucous laughs ensue. But another romantic story line involving the heroine's gay sidekick (Wilson Cruz) is a mass of cliched jokes and phony sentiment; and, naturally, the advent of a baby dictates that the movie will turn into a big alternative-family sapfest. Quentin Lee (Shopping for Fangs) directed; with Archie Kao and James Shigeta. 86 min. Lee and Cheung will attend the screenings. —J.R. Jones Fri 4/2, 8 PM, and Sun 4/4, 5:30 PM.
Shopping for Fangs A hapless office drone wonders if he's turning into a werewolf, a beautiful Stepford Wife begins to suffer from long blackouts, and a wisecracking diner waitress becomes a pistol-packing lesbian avenger. Like so many other indie releases of its time, this 1997 comedy is a knockoff of Pulp Fiction, with oddball characters, intersecting story lines, and plenty of B-movie flash. But it's got real energy, and its solid grounding in LA's Asian community gives the laughs a genuine cultural point of view. Writer-directors Quentin Lee and Justin Lin subsequently went their separate ways; Lin directed the impressive Better Luck Tomorrow (2002) and then drifted into studio hack work (he's the current custodian of the "Fast & Furious" hot rod franchise); Lee has directed a series of mostly gay-oriented indies (including The People I've Slept With, which opens this year's festival). 91 min. —J.R. Jones Mon 4/5, 8:30 PM.