Yen Tan is the writer/director of Sundance feature, Pit Stop, which is playing in the NEXT section at this year’s festival. Bill Heck, Marcus DeAnda and Amy Seimetz star in the film.
Here’s the synopsis:
Recovering from an ill-fated affair with a married man, Gabe [Heck] finds solace in the relationship he maintains with his ex-wife [Seimetz] and daughter. On the other side of town, Ernesto [DeAnda] evades life at home with his current live-in ex-boyfriend by spending much of his spare time in the hospital with an ailing past love. Impervious to the monotony of their blue-collar world, they maintain an unwavering yearning for romance.
In Tan’s director’s statement, he inlcudes some background on himself and the film.
As a gay Asian-American filmmaker, I always desire to see a broader and more complex range of LGBT characters in cinema. I’m also drawn to stories that delve into the heart of underrepresented communities. Pit Stop is a character-driven drama that revolves around the lives of two gay men in a red state small town. In today’s climate where there’s so much discourse over gay rights and marriage equality, Pit Stop is my endeavor in diverting that debate into something less political but more emotionally grounded: the meaning of love, the meaning of family, and the meaning of connection. The playwright Adam Bock once said, “In being specific in my work, that’s how universality happens. Everybody is lonely, everybody is afraid. As artists, as we get more specific, the universe appears.” This is precisely what I seek to achieve with Pit Stop.
Tan shot Pit Stop in Texas this past summer. Production took about a month and shortly after that he learned he’d be premiering his film at one of the best festivals in the world. In this midst of his busy schedule, Tan was able to join us today as our Guest Blogger to talk about one of his favorite Miramax films.
The original Miramax logo opener is permanently embedded in my brain. In the 90s, it certainly felt like any significant independent and foreign films I saw were from Miramax. In the same way I associate my Malaysian childhood with Shaw Brothers Studios, Miramax films were iconic in my high school and college years, even before I entertained the idea of making films.
High profilers like Clerks and Pulp Fiction were certainly impressionable in my angst-filled Gen X years, but the one Miramax film I still happily revisit to this day is Shirley Barrett’s wonderfully eccentric Love Serenade.
This Australian comedy set in what seems like the smallest and most vacant town in the world revolves around the love triangle between the timid Dimity, her opinionated sister Vicki Ann, and the local DJ Ken Sherry. It is infused with so much biting humor and well-observed moments of unrequited love, that it cracks you up as much as it aches your heart. More amazingly, the film completely changes the way you listen to kitschy classic pop songs by Barry White and Dionne Warwick.
Watching Love Serenade so many times over the years may have influenced my interest in setting Pit Stop in a small town, too. I’m bummed that Ms. Barrett hasn’t made more films since. So if you’re reading this, Shirley, please know that you made an impact on this gay Malaysian who first watched your film on a VCR, alone as a college junior on a cold lonely spring break in Iowa. It warmed my heart then. It has continued to warm my heart since.
Pit Stop has been very well received at Sundance and the next screening is on January 25, 9pm at the Broadway Centre Cinema 6 in Salt Lake City. For tickets, please visit their page on the Sundance website and read a great Variety review here.
The Sundance Film Festival runs January 17-27 in Park City, Utah.
Thanks to our Guest Blogger, Yen Tan. Next up: Meet Rachel Morrison, Director of Photography on the feature film, Fruitvale.