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  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

Updated: Jun 20

Now that the dust is settling, what should we do now?

The George Floyd protests and riots are dying down, emotions are still running high. Something must change. But the change must start within us. The first step is to our minds. We must COME TOGETHER in order to have honest conversations. And we need to listen with empathy as well as reach out to others who are not in agreement. This combination will help us to open our eyes to truly see others’ plights. Movies are a great way to do that.

Here are three movies that encourage emotional journeys through laughter and relationships in the midst of the chaotic riots. The first movie is about the LA Riots of ’92 called COME TOGETHER. Charles B Unger wrote, produced and directed COME TOGETHER. His name may sound familiar because he also directed MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING.

If we as a society can only open up, we can Come Together.

Charlie’s movie COME TOGETHER follows several diverse college students in a high-pressure situation during the LA Riots of ‘92. The movie GOOK charms us into the household andhe business of a Korean family with deep relationships in the Black Community. LET IT FALL walks us through the LA Riots step-by-step. As a documentary, its insight into the police’s harmful tactics gives a societal timeline that lead to the tumultuous LA riots of ‘92. 

COME TOGETHER – Charlie wrote and directed this film based on his real-life experiences at the University of Southern California (USC) while he was a student there. USC is situated in South Central Los Angeles, which was close to the epicenter of the riots. He sheltered at a friend’s house when USC evacuated students. They were all glued to the television set as they watched in horror as their city burned.


Don’t be fooled by the overt sexiness of COME TOGETHER. The film is an allegory of college students' hopes and dreams expressed through art and music trying to change the world. This also explores the deeper interpersonal and interracial relationships of college students coping with the stress of being in post LA Riots during 1992. They also reveal their deep insecurities through tantrums and immature behaviors to help them to get to what was really bothering them.


Being able to balance that tone was a real risky, bold, ballsy move - Ava DuVarney

Gook - During a Sundance Interview, Ava DuVarney marveled at the opening shot of a young Black girl dancing against the backdrop of a burning building. Ava thought highly of the film. 


GOOK is a heartwarming yet intense drama that unveils the life of two Korean brothers during the Riots of ‘92. They ran a family shoe store and formed an unlikely and playful relationship with a young black girl. Justin Chon wrote, directed and starred in this film that won the Audience Award at the Sundance film festival. The Korean brother’s shoe store is in Gardena city which is right next to Compton.


When the riots erupted in South Central LA, it spread like wildfire to other parts of Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, their lives and livelihoods were threatened when the city’s emotions ran high and a race war ignited in their neighborhood. Everyone quickly turned on one another and allies were divided along racial lines. In the middle were the brothers and young black girl and the little shoe store. It’s as if they were stranded in a lifeboat in the middle of an oil spill that was on fire. This is where they will take their last stance together. 

There’s my truth. There’s your truth. Then there’s THE TRUTH. - John Ridley.

The LA riots rings close to my heart. My parents were shop owners in LA at the time. Being Asian business owners, at that moment, we felt like we had a target on our backs. We watched in horror as each city building in the near distance turned into smoke and flame. This smoke and flame approached closer and closer like a train of vengeance heading our way. I remember feeling so helpless. My Dad muttered and paced back and forth on whether to board up or not. He decided to grab the cash. I got my boombox. We left our glass front store and said our prayers. Then we drove home in silence. Luckily, our store was spared, but many were not.


Filmmaker John Ridley wrote and directed the documentary LET IT FALL. It gives an in-depth look at political seeds of unrest and the cultural tensions that erupted into a week-long emotional gut punch that notoriously became the LA Riots. He carefully interviews all the players: Koreans, Blacks, Police Officers, News Reporters and residents. All still are shaken when they recall their stories. 

As part of their interviews, some police officers explain the different types of chokeholds. They didn’t know it affected people differently who were high on drugs. This film also explores South Central Los Angeles’ history using stock footage from networks, personal footage and oral history from many of the participants and observers. John follows along racial historical truth starting from the birth of the street gangs and LA’s merciless treatment of many Blacks. That event soon disappeared into the history pages.


The next generation of Angelenos lost their innocence the moment the video of Rodney King was released and exposed the corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department in addition to the daily frustrations of many Black residents at the time. John follows the cause and effect that led to the injustices that turned into the perfect storm of what was the LA Riots of ’92.


How can we prevent another LA Riots? 


Seems like we’re a little too late.


  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

On film and TV (Try saying that 3x fast)

This year, we’ve seen a tremendous surge in diversity in film and TV. Nothing like anyone I could’ve imagined - Special Needs, Asian in leads and the undead rising up. Oh my.





Holly and I were very fortunate to attend even a new film festival, Reel Abilities at Universal City Walk sponsored by AMC. It’s the Los Angeles chapter of Reel Abilities, a festival dedicated to those with disabilities.Congrats to Michael Dougherty and all the sponsors. Special Guest RJ Mitt from BREAKING BAD as well as other working actors with a disability appeared in a guest panel to discuss and educate everyone about the movement for more diversity on film and TV.


There was a delightful treasure trove of films such as PEANUT BUTTER FALCON from the SXSW Film Festival

A kid with Down Syndrome, Zak Gottsagen, teams up with a drifter, Shia LaBeouf. They go on an adventure to a Wrestling Camp. This sounds eerily similar to my movie, MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING




Or even ones that challenged the narrative and experiment and an actor with a disability as a romantic lead, FREAKS.






There were also some very talented up and coming filmmakers from the Easter Seals Disability Challenge

This provided a special education about humanization for those with disabilities.




Here are some other great movies that cinephiles should definitely check out.

LAST CHRISTMAS

"Last year, I almost died… ever since then I’ve been scared to do anything.” Emma Clark voices over the trailer. That’s all I need to hear. I can totally relate to this movie. Anyone who’s survived a serious car crash or a serious illness, can relate to this movie.



THE FAREWELL

Having almost died this year, this movie deeply moved me. If I could choose a way out,I would have loved to a large banquet to stuff myself surrounded by loved ones. What’s it like to be so close to death? One of my last regretful thoughts was, “I shouldn’t have had an extra helping of French Toast at the buffet.”

ATYPICAL and the GOOD DOCTOR are tv shows where someone with autism is the lead. I had pitched similar ideas, but was always advised that no one wants to watch a special needs adult as the main character. Go figure. More voices, more original stories can be told if people take a chance.

ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP

the Undead rise again in the middle of the apocalypse. Time to kick ass and make people laugh. Comedy, action, and zombies.




THIS CLOSE

We were blessed to attend a Q&A with triple threat writer, director and actor, Shoshana Stern






DINA

Dina is an American documentary film directed by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles, about Dina Buno and Scott Levin, both on the autism spectrum, getting married.

  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

Richard Soriano Kaiser ER

...And became a zombie.

Well, half of it’s true. If I had died, it would still be a mystery as if I were to become a zombie. January of this year is when I had a heart attack. I could barely breathe and I couldn’t stand up. But I was stubbornly resisting because we were supposed to leave the next morning for Las Vegas.




Our wedding cake fighting zombies at the apocalypse

My brother drove me to Urgent Care anyway. From Urgent Care, they called 911 where the ambulance drove me literally across the street to the Emergency Room. A thing about heart attacks is that they move you to first in line. They also keep checking on me to be sure that I was still alive. It felt like I was in one of those hospital TV shows.


So they did surgery on two days later to find out what was happening with me. An hour before surgery, I watched the movie CASTAWAY from Robert Zemeckis movie where Tom Hanks survives on an island and rots of loneliness. Will he be rescued? I was worried for him because I was alone in the pre-op room. No family and no phone because they said it was only going to

be a short while. I was in a large room full of strangers hidden behind curtains. You could tell their ages and emotional states just by the sound of their voices - anxiety, enjoyment, and spirituality.


If I were a zombie, this is how I imagined I'd be

At that moment, I realized that this could be the end of my life. This is it. My heart swelled with such gratitude and love, more than any other moment or birthday celebration in my life. I said a prayer asking God to take care of me. If it’s my time to go then he should take care of everyone in this room and everyone in my life. If I were to die, my wife Holly said that she would resurrect me to me kill me herself. Before I could finish the movie, the curtain swung wide open and I was whisked away to surgery. I never finished CAST AWAY, but here I am alive today.

I am so grateful this Thanksgiving weekend. More than you can imagine if you had another chance at life.

It must’ve been destiny that I met Kevin Smith this year. I had spent NY Evening at his comedy show at the Improv on Melrose. Every year I laugh with him at Hall H at ComiCon. He also had a heart attack the year before. And his was just like mine where there was blockage in his left anterior descending artery, aka ‘The Widow Maker’.










We coincidentally met at the Chinese Theater the day before his hands and feet would be immortalized into the cement. He was soaking in the moment. We briefly swapped stories and wished each other well. And we both hoped to meet Stan Lee in the big sky when it’s our time to go













Kevin Smith’s prints are set in cement right next to Stan’s and near Carrie Fisher’s. This is like a dream come true for Kevin. I also love that they all get to share that special distinction. Kevin Smith made a movie this year, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. I also had a dream come true and am making my movie, My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving.






Thanks to everyone for reaching out this year while I was recovering both physically and emotionally.

It was harder emotionally more than physically I have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: friends, family and realized dreams. Holly and I would’ve been heartbroken if we hadn’t finished this film. Thank you all again for your patience as we had to delay post

production due to a medical emergency. And yes, I have a doctor’s note to prove it!


#Thanksgiving #Thanksgiving2019 #HeartAttack #KevinSmith #ChineseTheater #CarrieFisher #MyApocalypticThanksgiving #Zombies

@2016 copyright by My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving LLC