The Oak Park Story

Updates on The Oak Park Story documentary

Under the stars, Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema September 5, 2010

Movies under the stars, Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema, Sept. 2010

Had a very fun and relaxed screening last night that was virtually in my backyard, at the Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival. This is actually the second time The Oak Park Story has screened at BHOC. Last year we were part of a works-in-progress screening in Four-Star Video’s back space. That screening was most memorable for one of our two audio tracks dropping out. At several points in the show I had to narrate the dialogue, benshi-style, when the soundtrack went mysteriously silent. That’ll teach me for not checking my show dub before trying to screen it.

Anyways, last night’s event went much more smoothly, and it was nice to see the movie again on the big screen after several much more intimate shows. BHOC set up a giant outdoor screen on the leeward side of Bernal Hill, just around the corner from the blackberry patch, and folks brought chairs, blankets, and cushions to sit in the cool night air watching movies by local filmmakers.

I’ve always loved outdoor screenings–they take me back to my childhood watching Old Yeller in my pajamas with my family at the local drive-in (or later, in my wasted youth, sneaking my posse into the Coliseum Drive-in in the trunk of a friend’s car to see Car Wash).

We showed The Oak Park Story a few months ago at the East Bay Bike Coalition’s Bike-In Film Festival in Oakland and that was also quite fun, with the hipster Oaktown audience cruising up after nightfall on their fixies. Last night’s show on Bernal Hill was equally enjoyable. It was great to see our movie as well as several other short docs (including Theo Rigby ‘s excellent Sin Pais) with the stars sparkling above and the San Francisco skyline glittering in the distance. A bunch of my friends showed up to watch as well and we brought a big bag of home-popped popcorn to share. Thanks to BHOC for giving us the chance to sit outside with our homies and watch the movie al fresco in the moonlight.


Fall 2010 screenings August 31, 2010

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Jose Felix wants you to see The Oak Park Story this fall

We’ve got a slew of upcoming shows this fall, from Berkeley to Toronto to Washington, DC. Tell your friends!

Sacramento State University, Tues. Oct. 19, 3.30p

Life on the road, part one May 5, 2010

Filed under: screenings,the oak park story — valeriesoe @ 4:07 pm

The Oak Park Story raffle swag, Cal State Long Beach, April 2010

I’m here at the San Francisco airport for the sixth time in about six weeks for the last leg of our first mini-tour of The Oak Park Story. Since our premiere on Mar. 14 I’ve been to Los Angeles four times as well as Chicago and Austin (although the film didn’t screen there), traveling pretty much every weekend. So I’ve become very familiar with SFO and the Southwest Airlines terminal. I think I’ve been here at Gate 25 at least three times. Russell also made a driving trip to Santa Barbara last weekend after flying in from Chicago—he’s also going to Seattle on May 12 and I’m going to UC Santa Cruz May 10.

So it’s been a whirlwind tour, especially since both Russell and I are sandwiching it in between teaching full time at San Francisco State.  When I get back from LA early Tuesday morning I’m going straight to school to teach until 7p that night. Since we’ve been visiting a lot of colleges we can only travel during the school year, hence our maniacal schedule.

Tasty vittles, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, April 2010

Aside from having to navigate the Los Angeles freeway system with only an iPhone GPS to guide us, it’s been a pretty fun time. We’ve been to schools ranging from cute little Occidental College, population 1,800 (and President Obama’s alma mater), to huge schools like Northwestern and USC, where all the students ride beautiful vintage-style bikes around the massive campus.  At Cal State Long Beach the Chi Delta Theta sorority featured The Oak Park Story as the headliner of their film festival and raffled off Oak Park posters autographed by us, which was our first and possibly last, modest taste of celebrity. At the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago we had the best Indian soul food I’ve ever tasted, with saag paneer, chicken masala, cornbread, fried chicken and collard greens.

So I’m headed down to LA one more time, to talk at Fullerton College (thanks, Larry!) and then to show the movie at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. I’ve got my mealtimes booked with visits with old friends and I’m seeing a few other shows at the festival so it should be fun. It’s awesome to have the chance to screen the film after working on it for so long and the response has been positive and enthusiastic. But I’ll be glad to hang up my spurs and to stay put for a while this summer. Unless, of course, one of the festivals in New York or Denver or Hawaii decides to give us a show, in which case I’ll be visiting Gate 25 again.


Upcoming screenings: The Oak Park Story March 23, 2010

Filed under: the oak park story — valeriesoe @ 6:07 am

FYI, here are some upcoming public screenings of The Oak Park Story. More to come as they’re scheduled–

Mon. March 29, 7p: Occidental College, Fowler 302, Los Angeles

Thur. Ap. 15, 7p: Cal State Long Beach, Beach Auditorium, University Student Union. Sponsored by Chi Delta Theta sorority

Fri. Ap. 16, 5.30p: San Francisco State University, Fine Arts 101 (Coppola Theater). Sponsored by Asian American Studies Department, SFSU.

Thur. Ap. 22, 7.30p: McCormick Theological Seminary, Common Room, 5460 S. University Ave, Chicago, IL

Mon. May 3, 9.15p: Los Angeles Asian Pacific American Film Festival, Aratani Japan American Theater, 244 South San Pedro Street,
Los Angeles

Mon. May 10, 1p: University of California, Santa Cruz, Communications Bldg. 150. Sponsored by Film & Digital Media Department and Porter College

Wed., May 12, 8:15p: Seattle Chinese Alliance Church, 2803 South Orcas Street, Seattle, WA 98108

Th, May 13, 1pm at Seattle Pacific University, Demaray 150, Seattle, WA

Thur. May 20, 9.3op: Bike-In Movie Festival, Swan’s Market, 538 Ninth Street,Oakland CA

Sat. May 22, 8.30p: Other Cinema, 992 Valencia Street, San Francisco


Report back: The Oak Park Story world premiere March 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — valeriesoe @ 5:08 am

Will work for tickets, Pahole & Rj, SFIAAFF

Hey! We just had our world premiere of The Oak Park Story last Sunday & it was awesome. Due to my co-director Russell Jeung diligent efforts as well as his huge network of friends, the house was full last Sunday for our first show and nearly full the next night for our second one. Since I hadn’t seen the movie on a screen bigger than my desktop and I hadn’t yet watched it in all of its color-corrected and sound-mixed glory I was a little bit nervous and excited when the lights went down on Sunday. But as soon as the movie started & the title sequence started to roll I relaxed and enjoyed the experience of seeing our movie on the big screen for the first time.
After the show ended we were able to thank our many supporters who were attendance, including Frances Phillips from the Creative Work Fund, who gave us our seed grant back in 2005, several of the people who appeared in the movie, our composer and music supervisor Camilo Landau, and Lorraine Dong, chair of our department, Asian American Studies, at San Francisco State.

Good times, The Oak Park Story premiere reception, Mar. 14, 2010. photo: Kathy Ma

We then repaired to the reception, catered by some of the Oak Park ladies, with indescribably delicious treats including tamales with green sauce, potato and cheese flautas, spring rolls, and beef skewers. Since I had been a tad too keyed up to eat properly before the show I scarfed down quite a few of these goodies, although there was plenty for everyone with some to take home for later (which I did).

We also debuted our brand new Oak Park tshirts and hoodies, designed by the intrepid Nina Chan. These were hot sellers and we’ve already sold more than half of our stock, especially the excellent hoodies, which are the bee’s knees, imho.

We’re on a whirlwind tour with the movie for the next few weeks, so keep an eye out here and on our website for updated details on the dates and locations of our next screenings. We’ll be at several colleges in Southern California as well as at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific American Film Festival on May 3, and we’ll have hoodies and tshirts for sale, as well as DVDs of the movie. We’d be happy to visit your campus or film festival as well so if you want us to stop by, just ask.

After more than four years of work on this flick it’s great to finally finish up and start showing it around—hope to be coming to your local film festival, college or community group soon!


Oak Park Story: Reviews March 18, 2010

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The San Francisco Bay Guardian writes, “The Oak Park Story is a nice piece of local interest, a document of the struggle by an Oakland apartment community to improve their living conditions. As a piece of film, Valerie Soe’s short film is a little rough around the edges, but it feels like such a deeply personal undertaking that it’s easy to get caught up in the lives of its deeply-bonded residents. At a scant 22 minutes, The Oak Park Story is the perfect length, and the gamut of emotions the filmmakers are able elicit in such a short amount of time is impressive.”

Ravi Chandra writes on the AAIFF blog: “Short documentaries that are in themselves worth the price of admission– Valerie Soe’s OAK PARK STORY tells us of the struggle of Cambodian and Latino tenants against their difficult landlord. It harks back to Curtis Choy’s FALL OF THE I-HOTEL but with a more positive outcome. I was absolutely charmed by this short film; taken with their respective main features, they will leave you with a treasure of sweet memories yourself.”


CineSource Magazine article: The Oak Park Story work-in-progress screenings March 4, 2010

Filed under: the oak park story — valeriesoe @ 4:46 am

Valerie Soe with one of many rough cut versions of The Oak Park Story

Here’s a little article from the March/April issue of CineSource Magazine written by Soumyaa Kapil Behrens, documentary filmmaker and all-around cool person, about work-in-progress screenings and how they benefit the filmmaking process. Soumyaa interviewed me for the article and shot some fun pictures, including the one in the article.

As stated in the article, the work-in-progress screenings we had for The Oak Park Story were invaluable to our creative process. Making a movie as complicated as this one is a daunting task and it’s easy to lose sight of good and bad and what works and what doesn’t when you’re head-down in 80 hours of interview footage in three languages.