Many Asian celebrities showed up on Tuesday to support the Los Angeles premiere of Justin Chon’s deportation drama “Blue Bayou” at the DGA Theater Complex.
What the film is about: The movie follows the story of Louisiana bayou-raised character Anthony LeBlanc, a Korean American adoptee whose life was turned upside down after an altercation at a grocery store, as he struggles to keep his family together while facing possible deportation, NBC News reported.
- “My purpose as an Asian American filmmaker is first and foremost to bring empathy to our entire community,” Chon said. “And one of the things that’s important is not to only represent my own experience or my own culture. It’s to represent all of us.”
- “Blue Bayou” was inspired by the stories of many adoptees who were adopted as children and were never naturalized and are now facing potential deportation to a country they barely know.
- “It just really absolutely made no sense to me, so I thought it was a very important issue to shine a light on,” Chon told Variety.
- The U.S. started adopting children from countries affected by conflicts as a demonstration of goodwill during World War II. It was later formalized in 1955 after Harry and Bertha Holt successfully advocated for the right to adopt Korean “war orphans” through Congress.
- Chon admitted that the process to tell the “Blue Bayou” story took him four to five years to complete, unlike his previous films “Ms. Purple” (2019) and “Gook” (2017). He added, “It wasn’t like an overnight thing I decided to just do, and I didn’t take it lightly, either.”
How it was made: Since he was not an adoptee, Chon consulted with an immigration lawyer and a group of adoptees throughout the writing process.
- “Once I had an edit, I screened it for some adoptees and then got notes from them and changed the edit through the post-production of the film, as well, to try to make sure that they felt comfortable,” he explained. “I couldn’t consult with the entire community, but with the people who I was consulting, I was making sure that they felt that it was authentic to them.”
- Not only did Chon want to make sure that the adoptee experience was accurate, he also wanted to make sure the setting was accurate as well.
- Chon told NextShark that he chose New Orleans and the South because he wanted to “normalize people who live in this area,” saying they’re “not a novelty,” and “should be honored and represented in the diaspora of our experiences in this country.” He also said it “was home to a huge enclave of Vietnamese Americans after the Vietnam war.”
- Even though Chon is from California, he went to “great lengths to make sure [the movie] felt authentic to even people from New Orleans” as “anyone who knows it can immediately smell and taste the screen when they watch the film.”
Star-studded premiere: Many Asian celebrities, including Awkwafina, Benedict Wong, Jimmy O. Yang, Harry Shum, Jr., Manny Jacinto, Steven Yeun and George Takei, attended the Los Angeles premiere on Tuesday.
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- Wong, who recently appeared in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” said he was pleased to see movies from all budget levels feature Asians as leads.
- “Most of these projects are all kind of founded for the ‘lack of,’ really, and then people are just getting up and kind of going, ‘We are having to tell our stories,’ as opposed to ‘Wait’ — there is no waiting. It’s in the doing,” he said.
- Shum Jr. wrote on his Instagram Story that the film “wrecked” him and that everyone should “go see this important film in theaters Sept. 17.”
- Actress Dianne Doan also took to her Instagram Stories to write a heartfelt message about the film. She wrote, “A whole theatre was moved to tears last night. Congratulations @justinchon on your masterpiece,” finishing her message with an urge to her followers to watch the movie when it comes out.
Featured Image via Focus Features