Student film represents Asian-American community, dream

Jory, a short film produced by De Anza College student, Caleb Jo, 20, business administration, chronicles the dilemma of an Asian-American teenager who must overcome his internal conflict to either chase his dreams or conform to his parent’s expectations.

Jo and his team received an overwhelming amount of support for the development of this film and even raised a total of $4,104.86.

“I was really worried for the first day[…] there was a lot of work put behind the scenes work before the Kickstarter. After I skyped with Justin Chon, we actually hit $1,000 in one day, it was a real turning point,” Jo said.

Chon’s work on his critically acclaimed project “Gook” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival brought a lot of attention to Jo’s work. Jo also attributed a significant portion of money to the Contemporary Asian Theater Scene, a group which was able to rally the Asian American community in support of his film.

According to Carl Molina, 22, computer science major, the film will be submitted to Asian Pacific American Visionaries, a short film contest sponsored by HBO which caters to up-and-coming Asian directors.

The theme for this year’s competition was “home.”

Originally, the title for the film was going to be the Korean word for home; however, Molina, the director, pitched the idea of calling the film Jory, meaning “God will uplift” in Hebrew.  

The deadline for the competition is Nov. 1, but the crew will not know the results until February. They are barred from distributing the film prior to the contest, but they will be hosting a private screening for their backers, friends and family.  

For Jo, the inspiration for the project came from his experience growing up in Cupertino. “Everyone wanted to get over 2000 on their SATs, get a 4.0 GPA, and take every AP class. All these things were mainly academic, especially for Asian parents, who never really respected the arts,” said Jo.

One of the producers, Naren Sareday, 21, film major, shared a similar sentiment. “I’ve had so many occasions when I tell someone I’m a film major and they just gave me this look like, ‘Oh, you’re that kind of kid.’ One time someone just asked me if I was an engineering major with no other options,” said Sareday.

Emily Lew, 17, film major, and another producer for Jory, likened the story of Asian American filmmakers to a flash mob. “It looks like there’s nothing but once someone starts it you can see the big picture.” She encourages young Asian Americans hoping to work in the film industry to follow their dreams, echoing the message of Jory.

Students empathize with the message that Jory invokes; one student said it had a very personal impact. “I think that [it] is something that needs to be told because as Asian Americans, it is very hard to relate to the saying ‘follow your dreams,’” said Katalina Cortez, 20, communications major.