Andrew Hida is the director of “Im/Perfection”, a new documentary about an architect who insists on hand-drawing his work. The film will be featured on the X1 Asian American destination. We had the pleasure of asking Andrew what inspired his film making journey, and how his Chinese and Japanese heritage influenced his work.
Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!
Andrew Hida: After immigrating from Japan to Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961, Hitoshi Hida struggled to learn English,but excelled in math and painting during high school. Abandoning his desire to be an artist, Hitoshi pursued architecture, finding a creative outlet in hand-rendering for nearly 40 years. In a digital world, Hitoshi is one of the last remaining designers to create hand-drawn architectural renderings in Hawaii. “Im/Perfection” is a deeply personal exploration of my father’s career and life. His sacrifices and choices early in life altered the trajectory of his career and the future of his family. My father keeps his life very compartmentalized, so even though I knew what my dad did for a living, I didn’t exactly know what he did. Part of me wanted to create this film as a documentation of his career and extraordinary talents in a dying craft. The other part of me wanted to create this film as a testament to my father. He is my hero, he paved the path for me to be able to pursue my own artistic craft.
How did you get into filmmaking?
AH: It’s a short long story, and more of a stumble than a straight path into filmmaking. In a previous lifetime I was a scientist working in the rain forests of Central America. I discovered the tremendous need to help the scientific community communicate their work with normal people. I quickly found myself in photography to accomplish this. Photography morphed into photojournalism, and photojournalism then quickly became filmmaking. I realized that I just needed to tell stories. Filmmaking became this extraordinary tool to help me tell these stories, and in some cases create a real, tangible, impact in the world that I could otherwise never dream of accomplishing.
What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?
AH: David Gelb is an incredible storyteller. I find many similarities in our storytelling that are lyrical and poetic by design. I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi a few years back, and more recently have been addicted to Gelb’s “Chef’s Table” series on Netflix. Both inspired the creation of “Im/Perfection”. I’m also a huge fan of Wes Anderson, and his ability to create magical worlds of fantasy and reality that always stoke my imagination. Whenever I need a creative pick-me-up, I watch “The Life Aquatic”, “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Fantastic Mr. Fox”.
Do you have a favorite Asian and/or Asian American film?
AH: I must look back to the early 2000s, because Justin Lin’s “Better Luck Tomorrow” is still one of my favorite Asian American films of all time. Watching it on opening night at LAAPFF was like taking a step back into my own adolescence. Watching it 15 years later made me realize how important it is to see yourself in media, and to be able to relate directly to the characters you see on screen and that these experiences are normal, and these people are normal. These people are you. Of course, their antics were far more mischievous than the kind of trouble I found myself in as a teen.
Image Credit: Hitoshi Hida
How does your Asian heritage influence your work?
AH: Last week a friend told me that you spend the first half of your life running away from your family, and the second half of your life trying to get back. In a way this really defines my personal experience. I was lucky to have been able to see a lot of the world as a young person. For a long time, I was inspired to travel to foreign countries and experience other people’s cultures–almost forgetting to look back at where I came from. I’m now at a turning point in my life and my career where I do hope to draw deeply on my Asian American heritage. I understand the importance of my own culture, my childhood in Hawaii, and my family’s story in shaping who I am and who I’ve become. It’s an introspective time in my life, influenced by my father’s sharing of his own story.
What’s next for you?
AH: I’m currently working on a variety of documentary projects, but what’s really grabbed my attention is what seems to be an organic evolution of “Im/Perfection” from a short film to a multimedia exhibit. I’m curating a gallery show of architectural renderings from designers in Honolulu, HI, including an impressive body of work from my father and his protege.
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