In 1996, my cousin Michael Aki and I embarked on a journey to make a film using a 16mm camera and black and white film. The result is Sunsets starring Josh Brand, Nicholas Constant and my cousin Michael Aki. We spent the next year making an effort to promote the film at various film festivals around the country and Canada.
In 1997 Sunsets was part of the "Asian American New Wave" with films by Chris Chan Lee's Yellow, Justin Lin and Quentin Lee's Shopping for Fangs, and Rea Tajiri's Strawberry Fields. A screening took place August 5th, 2017 at the Asian American International Film Festival in New York City, and a panel discussion on the following day at the Asia Society. I wrote a bit more about that experience (link). In 2019, Sunsets was remastered and recut once again in a stunning 2K format. It’s available to stream for a fee at http://www.chopso.com Also in 2019 we recorded a new commentary podcast “Sunsets Memories.” It’s streaming free at Chopso.com
Japanese American National Museum
National Center for the Preservation of Democracy
111 N. Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
link to JANM site.
The 2009 iD Film Festival is scheduled to open with a rare screening of Sunsets, the first feature by filmmakers Michael Aki and Giant Robot’s Eric Nakamura. Premiered as part of the Class of 1997 at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival over a decade ago (along with works by Justin Lin, Rea Tajiri, and others), the film has never been shown outside the festival circuit or been commercially released.
Shot on grainy black and white 16mm film, the very medium of rebel cinema, Sunsets chronicles the ennui, drunken bouts, and petty crimes of three young men, a white guy, a Hispanic, and a Japanese American (played by Aki himself) growing up in the small town of Watsonville, CA. The film is very much a coming-of-age story that is compelling in its purity and rawness. Understated, honest, and funny, this little-seen film shows a rare slice of Asian-American cinema that had never been attempted before. A critic has asserted that the film is “smarter and more credible than anything Gregg Araki has come up with.”