4th grade is all about fitting in. For ten-year-old Daniel that means owning the latest in Hello Kitty fashion, liking the cutest boy in class, and convincing yourself you’re Asian when everyone else thinks you’re white. Davis Desmond and Sari Lennick (The Coen Brother’s A Serious Man) star in this short comedy that proves identity is all in the eye of the beholder.
Summary info for schedule – will be hidden on film page
“D.Asian” is the first story in a series of slightly twisted comedies based on the short stories of Phillip Guttmann dealing with the complex nature of growing up. At its core “D.Asian” is the story of a child yearning to clarify who he is in relation to those he identifies with most. It’s a timeless tale of that period in our lives when we crave the acceptance of our peers but regardless take a stand and for the first time say “no, THIS is who I am.” What drew me so strongly to this story was the opportunity to explore that time in our lives when we just begin to understand who we are, but because we don’t fully grasp it yet, we sometimes express our thoughts and desires in unexpected ways. As kids our motives are not entirely clear to us in the moment. We often do things that are confounding to both ourselves, and the people around us (often perplexing the adults in our lives the most). Daniel has a crush on Kevin, but at his age he doesn’t fully understand what that means, so his crush gets expressed through racial identity, and in a way the race query becomes a question of: whom do you love? This felt like a really fresh take on the coming of age genre while also exploring themes of race and sexual orientation. The challenge as a filmmaker was to express this idea implicitly and not explicitly. Hopefully this leaves room for the audience to find the answer for themselves. Why is Daniel choosing D.Asian? Because all his girlfriends and many of his classmates are Asian? Or because he has a crush on Kevin? No matter what I think, I want the audience to be able to come to their own conclusion. Trying to balance the narrative on this razor’s edge for me mirrors the complexities and bewilderment of growing up. Ultimately, my hope is for “D.Asian” to encapsulate the universally understood struggle to be different – and for that to be okay. In the coming year, Smith & Guttmann (Director & Writer) plan to embark on the next chapter of the short story series with “Robbery on Louisiana,” a dark comedy that takes place ten years before “D.Asian,” concerning a very pregnant wife, and a very unexpected mugging.