The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.
April 03, 2016 | posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers
“Front Cover” follows Ryan, a Chinese American fashion stylist, who dreams of his work gracing the cover of a prestigious magazine. When a rival gets the assignment, Ryan is tasked with helping introduce Ning, an up-and-coming actor fresh from Beijing, to the American audience. Ryan is Americanized and openly gay, while Ning is proudly Chinese, macho, and homophobic. Needless to say, the two do not get along. That is, until Ning lets loose during a night out, and the relationship immediately changes.
“The film is called ‘Front Cover’ because it refers to how we sometimes try to put up a front in order to hide our insecurities or try to impress other people,” co-producer Stan Guingon says. “However, if we get to know and understand why people do what they do, then we may have more tolerance and compassion for them.”
Writer/director Ray Yeung is no stranger to the culture clash theme, as he has roots in Hong Kong, the UK, and New York. Guingon got involved in Yeung’s project because he found the story intriguing and also related to some of the main themes. As a Filipino-American growing up in mostly white neighborhoods in New Jersey, he says he was culturally detached from his heritage.
“I think the theme of ‘Front Cover’ is very relatable to any immigrant in this country,” Guingon says, “And for any second-generation immigrant, I’m sure they have all experienced trying to lose their cultural heritage in order to be cool.”
Guingon, who has previously worked with Yeung on shorts, calls the director a “passionate filmmaker who wants to focus on telling gay Asian stories.”
“He knows that gay Asian movies is possibly not going to help him break into the mainstream,” Guingon says, “But I think his mission is to give an under-represented group a voice.” Hence the name of their production company, NewVoice.
Guingon says it’s important for gay movies to screen at mainstream film festivals so they can reach a more diverse group—straight audiences as well as gay audiences. He adds that the filmmaking team is delighted with their community partnership with PFLAG Cleveland—an organization for parents, families, friends, and allies united with LGBTQ people—because of the film’s storyline that is particularly relevant to the relationships between parents and gay children.
Joining the Cleveland International Film Festival for its 40thanniversary is an honor and “the icing on the cake,” Guingon says. “It shows your city historically is very open to seeing stories coming from different backgrounds.”
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