“Amir Motlagh does Godard proud with Pumkin Little” - Microcinema Scene Reviews
“Amir Motlagh doesn’t make your standard film…He is a filmmaker to watch” - FilmThreat Magazine
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)
Year Released: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 40 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:
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.