CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
Interview: Director FU Tien Yu of ‘My Egg Boy’ at Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema on Mar. 29, 2017
CHICAGO – The biological clock ticks for all women, and this life event is magnanimously given a wildly creative treatment in the new film “My Egg Boy.” This story from Taiwan is part of the fourth season of the Asian Pop-Up Cinema series in Chicago…taking place on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017, at the downtown AMC River East Theatre. Director FU Tien Yu will be in attendance. For complete details and to purchase tickets, click here.
The Fourth Season of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema Continues with ‘My Egg Boy’
Photo credit: AsianPopUpCinema.org
The heroine in the film is Mei-pao (Ariel Lin), a product manager for a frozen food company. She is not lucky in love, as her passion for business makes connection difficult. Taiwan happens to be the leading country for freezing “eggs” for women, and Mei-pao follows through on the procedure, with a ten year window to utilize them to have a child. In the meantime, she is working on some new products, and presents some of them to a hot new chef named A-Shi (Rhydian Vaughan), but he rejects them because he only works with “fresh” ingredients. And so it goes with the frozen/fresh dilemma, which is exemplified by a fantasy scenario that shows the ice-bound eggs and sperm interacting within the frosty chambers.
Director FU Tien Yu has formulated a highly emotional, spiritual and hilarious misadventure regarding the reproductive thing, which plays across all cultures. Through a translator, HollywoodChicago.com got the opportunity to talk with her in anticipation of her appearance with the film at the Asian Pop-Up Cinema Series.
HollywoodChicago.com: Taiwan is not overpopulated, but the Chinese culture associated with it is sometimes perceived to be that way… what motivated you to communicate this opposite situation in your film?
FU Tien Yu: As you mentioned, overpopulation in Taiwan is not an issue. In the modern age, women are career oriented as elsewhere, but also worrying about their aging in association with having children. Taiwan is a leader in frozen egg technology – and it has become a popular technology only recently – so that was the start of the idea that became the film.
HollywoodChicago.com: What does this film say about how the generation of women in their twenties are being leaders of change in Taiwanese culture?
FU Tien Yu: It reflects me, in balancing the passion I have for filmmaking with a regular life. In the film, I wanted to express some other definitions for happiness in a woman’s life… it can mean getting married and having kids, or following through on their career. I think it’s a universal theme.
Mei-pao (Ariel Lin) Romps Within Her Fantasy World in ‘My Egg Boy’
Photo credit: AsianPopUpCinema.org
HollywoodChicago.com: Since you’ve just said the film is somewhat about you, how much of the main character Mei-pao is you?
FU Tien Yu: I know a lot of women directors in China who do romantic comedies, and they are always asked if it is their lives they are filming. [laughs] I’m more like the male lead in the film. There are parts of me in Mei-pao, and parts of me in all the other characters as well. The relationship that Mei-pao has with her mother very similar to the relationship with my mother, because she lives far away, but is always sending me frozen food.
HollywoodChicago.com: Since your art direction was very specific for the fantasy frozen land of the eggs and sperm, what was the process for coming up with that place and the costuming?
FU Tien Yu: When I was developing the film, I knew the art director was going to be vital to making those scenes work. The art director is Man Lim-chung, and he did some famous Hong Kong movies. The look of the living area was inspired by the Capso Hotel in Kyoto, Japan – these hotels have those small capsule-type sleep pods. I envisioned the living area of the eggs and sperm like a college dormitory, with the same close quarters and interaction.
Man Lim-chung came up with the white balloon idea that decorated the set and represented the eggs, soft and warmer, but we did struggle with capturing the look of it on film. The lighting of balloons, because of their transparency, was very challenging.
HollywoodChicago.com: When you were thinking about, and then writing this film, did you think more about being frozen or being fresh and why?
FU Tien Yu: [Laughs] Even though frozen is available in technology, I prefer something fresh.
HollywoodChicago.com: Hope is a beautiful theme in your film. How has hope helped you to survive all the obstacles of being an artist?
Director FU Tien Yu of ‘My Egg Boy’
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com
FU Tien Yu: My hope lies in balancing the art that I do with my life. Like Mei-pao in the film, I like riding my bike and feeling the wind in my face, and the conversations I have with my friends. I don’t like to forget the little things in life.
Like the Egg Boy in the film, we’re all looking for the ‘shell’ to be broken, to be reborn again. This reflects many people in society, we’re all looking to break out. or the hope of that moment in breaking out. That’s the moment I was trying to communicate in ‘My Egg Boy.’
HollywoodChicago.com: Can you give me an example of your own Egg Boy or ‘break out’ moment.
FU Tien Yu: There is an awards ceremony in Taiwan in association with ‘The Golden Horse,’ which is a film festival combined with awards similar to the Oscars. As part of it, there is a trade mart for film ideas that is set up at a nearby hotel, with each filmmaker having a room to pitch their movies to investors. I had that Egg Boy realization there, with me and so many of my colleagues hoping for that break out moment.
HollywoodChicago.com: In the research and development of this project, what did you learn about your relationship with the power of life that had an impact on you?
FU Tien Yu: I learned about hesitations, because my two main characters had major hesitations when it came to their lives. This uncertainty is the challenge of life, if we get beyond it we learn what we’re made of… everybody has this uncertainty, even though we may pretend that we don’t have it. It’s about being authentic and honest with yourself, but I’m not trying to provide any answers. It was about going through the process of uncertainty to breaking out from it.
HollywoodChicago.com: Finally, what do you want to tell women who are worried about their biological clocks, in regard to what the film is telling them?
FU Tien Yu: Basically that happiness cannot be defined by one measure, and shouldn’t be confined to one element of your life. You can be happy having a husband and children, but you also can be happy without it. It’s about finding that sense of happiness, and making peace with it. Reproduction is a biological urge, the life of life, but it still isn’t easy. So enjoy what you have, and value what you can bring into your life.