The film-essay “my break ups into a million pieces” is about Bose’s migration to Southern California after her artist-father’s death. Directed by Amir Motlagh, this 16-minute film, shot in digital video and super 8, is an exploration of personal and spiritual identity, death, romantic relationships and myth of Americana from an Asian perspective.
Its creation was brought about by coincidence: Bose was impressed by Motlagh’s previous works (including “Dino Adino” and “Still Lover”), asked him for filmmaking advice. She had written “Break-up Stories,” a series of vignettes about the disintegration of my personal relationships, and wanted to translate it into film.
After showing award-winning director Motlagh her father Santiago Bose’s paintings, he felt a spiritual connection to Santiago’s works and agreed to direct the film.
They co-produced the piece in 2004. Punctuated with original music from various Orange County bands such as Bose’s old band, The Velvet Ash, it also features many artists (painter Reza PorMansor, producer Alex Xenophon) from the Santa Ana underground. With its gorgeous shots of Los Angeles freeways and endless blue skies, “my break ups into a million pieces” marks the transition to new country and a new life, the rush of a brave, sunshiney new world.
Screenings (selected screenings)
2005 Vancouver Asian American Film Festival
2005 Pinoy Visions, Los Angeles
2005 Pusod, Center for Culture, Berkley
2005 Sol Arte Gallery,Santa Ana(film work by Amir Motlagh)
2005 Capitol City MicroCinema, DC (east to west coast)
2006 San Francisco International Asian American Film Fest
2006 Visual Communications Film Festival
2006 Chicago Asian American Film Showcase
2007 Monterey Women's Film Festival
_ones that i remember anyway_
An addendum from Lille: Please read after if interested.
Written by Lilledshan on her blog on 10/18/08, several years after the film was released.
How apt, that while I am preparing for a lengthy trip back to the Philippines, Amir calls me with news that he produced (edit) "a web" version of the film we made four years ago, “my break ups into a million pieces.” (He directed/edited/produced, I wrote/produced/was in it.)
Parts of it — stuff I said and thought, my clothes, my hair, who I was with, what I felt about race relations — make me cringe now. I feel so far removed from it, and yet at the same time it kind of feels like I’m watching my high school diary. I always did maintain that moving to the U.S. induced a second (cultural?) adolescence for me.
Other parts — the music, shots of the Bassland studio, the memory of shooting it with a group of people who’ve since then gone crazy, killed themselves, stopped talking to each other or fought drug addictions — make me nostalgic. And proud, at the same time. Like, I lived through this.
Like a high school diary, the short is a flashback of what my life in Orange County was like when my life was 180 degrees different from my life today. I had a band, I lived with a group of musicians, I lived in California, I lived in a community where the minority was the majority, surrounded by art and music. I had never owned a coat, barely drank beer, and had no idea what it was like to work in a newspaper. And now that my life is changing again, maybe I should say I’m 270 degrees different — I’m already on my way back to a full circle.
A film can easily be looked at retrospectively, and commented on. Maybe directors need a bit more time? I will refrain from commenting, but say that i still find Lille's unfiltered writing courageous, especially as it relates to her father. It is a pleasure to work with people who are as unguarded as this.
“Amir Motlagh doesn’t make your standard film…He is a filmmaker to watch”
“Amir Motlagh does Godard proud with Pumkin Little”
Microcinema Scene Reviews
TITLE: Pumkin Little
FORMAT: DV, 35mm Still Photography
VIEWING FORMAT: Digi-Beta, Beta-Sp, DV, DVD, VHS
“And we shall dance to see another day”
"Pumkin Little," is the personal portrait of a young man caught in the intricate balance of immigrant culture in suburban Southern California. How is he labeled, and how is he defined? (Breakdancer. Anak. Gang member. Student. Boyfriend. Filipino. American. Brother.Tao. Asian. Kuya.)
"Pumkin Little" uses a collection of digital video, photographs, interviews from people on the streets, a selection of old VHS video and an original soundtrack composed and perfomed by the director to tell the story of how breakdancing, discovered in middle school, became the artistic expression that ultimately carried the main subject through the roughest of times. Shot like a cinematic dream, the film brings forth a thought-provoking portrait of a troubled teen's break from gangs and into the role of mentor by focusing on a pivotal time in the main character's life without using sensationalism.
Director: Amir Motlagh
Music: amir motlagh, Mike Green
Producers: Michael Flowers, Amir Motlagh
Sound: Reza Pormansor
Photo: Amir Motlagh
Editing: Amir Motlagh, Ellen Nguyen
This is the only thing i could recover. A 2005 review from Film Threat. 4 Stars Review.
Film Threat -
Year Released: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 40 minutes
This is the Amir Motlagh film I’ve been waiting to see, and I have to say it is his best, most complete effort to date. It’s a documentary, but done in his signature style, which means it’s a lot like watching memories plucked from someone’s psyche and then randomly edited into a final project — yet it still seems coherent.
The film focuses on the life of Michael, a twenty-four-year-old
Filipino American who grew up in Southern California. He describes how he went from break dancing in the eighth grade to being in a gang and then moving on to attend college. It seems like fairly simple stuff, but Michael’s journey perfectly mirrors the difficult choices many young men (and some women) have to make. The consequences of these decisions are shown as Michael remembers his friends, some of whom he describes as the kindest people you’d ever meet. Those kind souls are now doing time, and Michael is free to pursue break dancing once again.
Michael’s story is also peppered with other people’s memories of the eighth grade, which gives viewers a jolt of reality as they remember what life was like back then. When you’re that young, you aren’t always thinking straight, and fun and fighting seem to go hand-in-hand. Reputations must be made and territory staked. Hormones are surging, but no one really knows what to do with them. By using these stories, Motlagh places us in the moment and makes us think of what we did and how easy it seems to make those aforementioned tough choices without really thinking them through.
Motlagh’s films can be hard to watch for people who are only familiar with standard, Hollywood-type movies. Sometimes this works to his benefit … sometimes not. This one works better than anything he’s done before, and I consider myself fortunate to have seen it.