With the Vancouver Queer and International Film Festivals now over for another year, it’s time to get a little “naugty or rice” with the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) and the world premiere of the locally shot gay film John Apple Jack.
“Over the past few years, VAFF has continued to grow and this year’s theme, ‘Naughty or Rice’, invites our audience to challenge their own perceptions about Asian film, and has brought in an interesting array of talent,” says Grace Chin, festival director.
Along with over 40 feature-length films, documentaries and shorts screening over four days, the 2013 VAFF line-up includes John Apple Jack, a feature length movie that definitely fits within the festival’s naughty spectrum.
The semi-autobiographical film from Vancouver writer Rick Tae, John Apple Jack tells the story of a glamorous playboy who realizes that his dream guy is about to get away and how his life turns upside down in a mad rush to confess his love.
“At its heart, John Apple Jack is a universal love story of ‘opposites attract’ that will resonate with a wide audience,” says Tae. “I’m excited to debut my first feature right here at home in Vancouver as it’s a tribute itself to the city’s culturally-diverse community.”
Directed by Monika Mitchell, the movie’s gorgeously bright cinematography brings to life the film’s West Coast setting, something Mitchell said was deliberate.
“I’m an optimist,” says Mitchell. “I want my films to represent that visually and Lindsay [cinematographer Lindsay George] is ingeniously capable of it at any budget… John Apple Jack is a ‘blue sky’ comedy and damn it, we wanted a blue sky, even in Vancouver.”
Preferring films that are “luxe and with great depth”, Mitchell’s optimism was augmented by her desire to evoke something specific in the audience from the luscious look of the film.
“With sex and food and passion you should be able to taste it,” she says. “I wanted the audience to have the full sensual experience of the characters, and the photography had to deliver that. Lindsay knocked it out of the park though; she really exceeded expectations. Even when we’re crying, the film just looks like it’s so full of love!”
John Apple Jack belies both its small budget and the inevitable challenges that making an independent film entails, but Mitchell says the tenacity of its producers has given way to a wonderful film.
“We had technical difficulties, as many low budget pictures do,” says Mitchell. “[Producers Selena Paskalidis and Rick Tae] had to do so much begging and had to be so determined. Lesser producers would have quit… but those two just slogged through it; they never stopped. And now they have a world premiere on the big screen in their home town.”
No doubt part of the fun that appears on screen comes the cast and crew dealing with some of the challenges of working on a low budget film, even something as basic as feeding everyone on set.
“Our craft service was donated by a big box grocer and every day, the white van would pull up and dented cans and packs of buns one short of a dozen would spill out,” recalls Mitchell. “And every day there would be some birthday cake that somebody had failed to pick up for some reason. Our desert would read ‘Happy birthday Timmy!’ with a Pokémon or something. It became a running joke to see whose birthday it would be for desert every day. And the ultimate debate: were they naughty and so did they not get a birthday cake or did alcoholic Mommy space out and order two?”
Fast-paced, sexy and witty, John Apple Jack will also be screened at Montreal’s IMAGE+NATION Film Festival in November and the Reelout Queer Film + Video Festival in Kingston, Ontario in February 2014.
John Apple Jack receives its world premiere at the 2013 Vancouver Asian Film Festival at 7pm on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas. For tickets and more information visit http://ww.vaff.org.