November 29, 2014 — Year in Review (Part 2 – New York in June)

New York in June could only be made possible by the hospitality of longtime friend Peer Just. A free place to stay in New York meant that I could funnel some of our funds towards filming two crucial interviews with Asian American scholar Judy Wu and the award-winning author Danke Li. Both provided important insights into Li Ling-Ai’s motivations and how World War II transformed the everyday lives of women in both the United States and China. Answering the last-minute call for camera help were our New York go-to DP Frank Ayala and another longtime friend Ruth Bonomo.

Leaving NYC home base for a day of production on Long Island -- first the subway, then the train, then the ferry.

Leaving NYC home base for a day of production on Long Island — first the subway, then the train, then the ferry.

 

Judy Wu, author of DR. MOM CHUNG, took time out from her Port Jefferson vacation to sit for a great interview. Ruth Bonomo pitched in as DP on short notice, providing wheels, camera and lights. Judy's family fed us a great spaghetti dinner beachside. Signing K for KUKAN!

Judy Wu, author of DR. MOM CHUNG, took time out from her Port Jefferson vacation to sit for a great interview. Ruth Bonomo pitched in as DP on short notice, providing wheels, camera and lights. Judy’s family fed us a great spaghetti dinner beachside. Signing K for KUKAN!

 

DP Frank Ayala with Danke Li, author of ECHOES OF CHONGQING, WOMEN IN WARTIME CHINA

DP Frank Ayala with Danke Li, author of ECHOES OF CHONGQING, WOMEN IN WARTIME CHINA

 

A visit to New York also meant I got to hang out with Calamity Chang, who has volunteered to record temporary voice over lines that allow us to edit our historical scenes. Calamity constantly inspires me by her willingness to embrace her performance instincts and bare it all in her wonderfully tongue-in-cheek burlesque shows. She also knows her Chinese history and promotes projects like ours that bring it to the forefront. Her musician/photographer husband Mike Webb put in hours of free time as our sound man while dog Chewie quietly put up with our intrusion. After a super long recording session on a sunny Sunday afternoon, we all needed a New York specialty cocktail.

 

Going over scripts with Calamity Chang.

Going over scripts with Calamity Chang.

 

Musician and Photographer Mike Webb pitches in as sound man to record our temporary voice over tracks.

Musician and Photographer Mike Webb pitches in as sound man to record our temporary voice over tracks.

 

Chewie after a long recording session

Chewie after a long recording session

 

One of the killer cocktails I had in NYC featuring cucumber and gin

One of the killer cocktails I had in NYC featuring cucumber and gin

 

Just being in NYC is a real shot in the arm for a filmmaker. Visual stimulation is everywhere and so are other artists whose very existence and work are like cheers from the sidelines.

 

Inspiration from Steven Salmieri and his wife Sydney Michelle

Inspiration from Steven Salmieri and his wife Sydney Michelle

 

Inspiration from artist, hat designer and jewelry maker Carol Markel

Inspiration from artist, hat designer and jewelry maker Carol Markel

 

Inspiration from my husband Paul Levitt who is designing a book with Dana Martin about his visit with Man Ray

Inspiration from my husband Paul Levitt who is designing a book with Dana Martin about his visit with Man Ray

 

More inspiration from a screening and Q&A with D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus

More inspiration from a screening and Q&A with D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus

 

Before my New York trip I got word that I received a fellowship to go to China to join a group of high school educators form Canada and New Jersey on a World War II centered study tour. It would be my first trip there, so China was on my mind.

 

Looking ahead to China in July at the Ai Wei Wei exhibit in Brooklyn

Looking ahead to China in July at the Ai Wei Wei exhibit in Brooklyn

 

Imagining China

Imagining China

 

China Kitsch

China Kitsch

 

Li Ling-Ai’s spirit is also close at hand when I am in NYC. Her great friend Larry Wilson offered to point out the third floor apartment where she spent most of her life on West 55th street. The breeze picked up and the trees outside the apartment did a dance as we looked up to the third floor.

 

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