Made in Hong Kong Film Festival: A Salute to Kara Wai

If you’ve never heard of the Made in Hong Kong Film Festival, it’s a wonderful event cosponsored by the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. 2016 marks the twenty-first year since the Festival’s inception in Washington, D.C., with a spectacular line up of films from July 15 through August 7 at the National Museum of American History.

Photo of Actress Kara Wai

Photo of Kara Wai courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Sunday afternoon featured the second day of a Salute to Kara Wai with a special screening of My Young Auntie (1981). The fifty-six year-old actress won her first Hong Kong Film Award for her performance in the funny and intense kung fu classic made by the Shaw Brothers studio. She plays a young student who marries her dying teacher to protect his inheritance. She delivers the deed to her new nephew and grand-nephew, but greedy relatives are not too far behind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Theater Review (Washington, D.C.): Special Performances of ‘The Originalist’ at Arena Stage

In July 2012, I won a ticket lottery during my summer internship on Capitol Hill. The speaker slated at the closing lecture was the late Justice Antonin Scalia. To my surprise, Scalia devoted his hour to Q&A time rather than to a prepared speech.

Photo of Edward Gero and Kerry Warren in 'The Originalist'

(L to R) Edward Gero as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Kerry Warren as Cat in The Originalist at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater March 6-April 26, 2015. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

I was struck by a couple of things about Antonin Scalia as I sat in the Supreme Court. He was very polite. Second, he seemed genuinely excited that all of us were interested in government and law, regardless of our backgrounds. He was also quite passionate about looking at the original meanings and contexts within the U.S. Constitution. “I am a textualist. I am an originalist. I am not a nut!” he exclaimed to us. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview with Steven Bartle [Part 2]

Photo of the 'God Save the King' Poster

Courtesy of Steven Bartle

In the first segment of my interview with Steven Bartle, the U.K. actor and writer told me about how his medical discharge from the Royal Marines Commandos shaped the story of his upcoming film short, Recoil. Bartle is very busy on other projects like Distant Love and God Save the King.

As a film producer, are you getting the music for Recoil, too?

I’m currently working with a well-known British producer called Damon Hess, who is doing some of the music for Recoil. It’s a very exciting time to be working with an artist such as Damon. He is collaborating with [DJ and singer] Sonique on a brand new release for Reckless Records due out in the summer.

Tell us about Distant Love, another short film.

Distant Love is actually the first [short] film that I’ve written fully. The husband is doing everything he can to save his marriage that’s falling apart in his eyes. As far as he’s aware, he’s done nothing wrong. He treats his wife like the princess she deserves! But she’s throwing everything back in his face and treating him like he’s not there. In the end, we’re left with this huge twist that I’m not going to reveal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview with UK Actor Steven Bartle [Part 1]

Photo of Steven Bartle

Steven Bartle, Courtesy of Bartle Productions

I want to spotlight StevenBartle: an actor, writer, and producer who currently resides in London. Originally from Sheffield, Bartle was a Royal Marines Commando until 2010, when he was injured in an attack that left him blind in one eye and unable to continue in the service. The young man was determined to make a fresh start, which came to be in his passion for acting. The 26-year-old was happy to Skype with me last month to discuss his career and reveal his upcoming projects.

How did you decide to get into acting?

I always wanted to be an actor. However, I never had the courage to do it. I never believed in myself. I went and joined the [Royal] Marines. After that [ended], I was just overcoming some very dark personal issues. I was starting to really think that I may as well come out of that and pursue what I really want in life and not be scared anymore. Read the rest of this entry »

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Awesome Con: Interview with Johnny Alonso

Photo of Robin Lord Taylor and Johnny Alonso

Robin Lord Taylor and Johnny Alonso at Awesome Con. Courtesy of Johnny Alonso.

Earlier this month, I was in Washington, D.C., to cover Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman at Awesome Con. Prior to that fascinating panel, I wandered through the Exhibit Hall, passing by the autograph booths where many fans were lining up. I knew that actor Johnny Alonso would be at the convention, but it was a pleasant surprise to find him standing at one booth in particular. He and his camera crew were engaged in a friendly chat with Gotham actor Robin Lord Taylor!

“I decided to drop by and say hello. [I] wished him a happy birthday,” Alonso shared about his encounter with Taylor, who keeps generating a lot of buzz as Oswald Cobblepot. “So I said when are you going to get me back on the show?”

Fans of Gotham might see Alonso return as bass player Kazz, thanks to Taylor’s conversations with the writers about next season.

Photo of Pat Cuadros and Kevin Tan

Pat Cuadros and Johnny Alonso, Awesome Con. Credit: Pat Cuadros and Kevin Tan.

Alonso has other promising projects in full swing, both of which are under the direction of Derik Wingo and Kipp Tribble. Chronology, a film starring Billy Baldwin and Danny Trejo, already premiered in Poland. He’ll also start filming on Coffin 2 in Los Angeles this summer. The sequel marks the return of his shady character Trick.

For the full details on these updates and Alonso’s interest in The Walking Dead, be sure to view the entire Blogcritics video, courtesy of Kevin Tan.


This article was originally published on Blogcritics.org with minor edits here. The Youtube video of the interview is on my channel: https://youtu.be/A2sIvrF_J44. Special thanks to Robin Lord Taylor, Johnny Alonso, Kevin Tan, and Tony Cuadros.

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Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman Talk ‘Doctor Who’ at Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. [Repost]

Photo of Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman amuse the crowd during the Q&A, Awesome Con, Washington, D.C. Credit: Pat Cuadros

Doctor Who fans converged on Washington, D.C. for Awesome Con on earlier this month to see Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. The U.K. actors were interviewed by Kristen Page-Kirby, the Senior Arts Editor for the Washington Post Express. The half hour panel also featured a Q&A with the audience.

“I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe [the Doctor’s] mind,” Capaldi hinted about future episodes. He stopped mid-sentence before giving away anything else. Though Clara has left, it remains to be seen where these leftover pieces, if any, will take the Doctor.

The children were delightful inquirers, particularly the question about the transformation from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi. “I’ve actually always been Peter Capaldi,” the actor replied in amusement, once the laughter died down in the packed hall. Typically, fans reference the regeneration cycles by the number of the Doctor, not by actor.

If you’re not aware already, the Doctor Who set is known for pranks and teasing among the cast and crew. Capaldi admits that prior to Coleman’s decision to leave the show, he suggested different actresses that could replace her as a Companion. “Peter’s favorite joke to tease me mercilessly was, ‘We’ll bring back Billie Piper!’” Coleman said about his references to previous Companions. But on one occasion, he mentioned another actress, whose name was not given out at the panel.

Photo of Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi shows a photo of himself with actor David Bradley, from ‘Doctor Who’ drama ‘An Adventure in Space and Time.’ Credit: Pat Cuadros

“I was doing a scene and it was rather emotional,” Capaldi added. “I turned around to give my lines to Jenna and she was wearing a mask of said actress.”

Coleman described the experience of filming inside a Dalek as “claustrophobic,” but it had an added bonus of having a seat all day on the set. “They had to glue wires onto my head every take. And I got wheeled everywhere,” she shared.

Doing her farewell scene in the episode “Face the Raven” was also a challenge, but for different reasons. At the time, she knew that she would be in episode twelve but she didn’t know the details. Showrunner Steven Moffat emphasized that it was a “real goodbye” as he helped her prepare for the scene. “There was a live raven,” Coleman went on. “It was hard not to be scared!”

Photo of Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. Credit: Pat Cuadros

A convention in D.C. wouldn’t be complete without a question on Capaldi’s time as foul-mouthed Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It. Headed by Veep creator Armando Iannucci, the BBC series led to a film, In the Loop, that had scenes shot in Washington, D.C. Capaldi said that he practiced his lines in the kitchen, something he still does for Doctor Who: “I’d pace up and down the kitchen learning [Malcolm’s] lines, getting louder and louder and louder and rude. I’m sure the neighbors must have gotten really upset.”

“I’d get myself into a state of absolutely horrendous Malcolm cruelty and evilness and nastiness. Someone would call downstairs and say, ‘Have you seen the remote control?’ and I’d go ‘Ahh!’ We had to put Malcolm in a box,” he said.

Promo photo of Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman for 2016 Awesome Con

Courtesy of Awesome Con

Filming is already underway for the tenth season of Doctor Who, which will introduce Pearl Mackie as the new Companion. The premiere is slated for sometime in 2017.


This article was originally posted on Blogcritics.org with the same title. I added two additional photos.

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Interview with Social Secretary Amanda Downes on British Embassy Open House Day 2016

The British Embassy in Washington, D.C., held an open house on Saturday, May 14thThe annual event is run in conjunction with other European Union embassies in our nation’s capital. Members of the public can visit the residence, see the grounds, and enjoy many activities focused on U.K. culture. I interviewed Amanda Downes on behalf of Blogcritics prior to the open house to discuss the joyous occasion. She currently serves as the Social Secretary to Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador to the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

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