Filmmaker Spotlight: Bradley Tangonan

The X1 Asian American Film & TV destination will feature “Kaumakaiwa,” directed by Bradley Tangonan. You can find the film in the Lunar New Year collection this February. We had the chance to ask Bradley about his inspirations, filmmaking journey, and how his Asian American heritage impacts his work.

Image Credit: Bradley Tangonan

Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!

Bradley Tangonan: This film was part of a short documentary series that was a collaboration between native Hawai’ian cultural practitioners and the Hawai’i Tourism Authority. The director’s cut was a way to tell Kaumakaiwa’s story in a longer format with a new focus.

Image Credit: “Kaumakaiwa” Film

How did you get into filmmaking?

BT: I learned how to shoot in my aunt’s Hi-8 back in the 90s. I was hooked ever since.

What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?

BT: Wong Kar Wai opened me up to the possibilities of cinema. Apichatpong Weerasethakul taught me the importance of breath and space.

Image Credit: “Kaumakaiwa” Film

Do you have a favorite Asian and/or Asian American film?

BT: “Kaili Blues” is a recent film that I think about quite often for its innovative logic of time. “A Brighter Summer Day” is another favorite of mine.

How does your Asian heritage influence your work?

BT: Being a mixed Asian person born in Hawai’i is an identity fraught complicated set of competing values and relationships. My goal as a filmmaker is to explore, via specific stories, new arrangements between power among groups.

Image Credit: “Kaumakaiwa” Film

What is your outlook on the state of Asian American cinema?

BT: It feels like the current moment in Asian cinema comprises the radical, the conventional, big budget and indie, old media and new media. It’s exciting, scary, and full of possibility and responsibility.

What’s next for you?

BT: I’m interesting in continuing to make short films that explore underrepresented characters in situations that reflect the socio-cultural tensions of the times.

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