Richard Chu's first film is a labor of love. For six months, Chu, a 43-year-old database administrator, spent his evenings and weekends shooting his first film despite working full time. Now that it's finished, he hopes his film, a tale of spiritual redemption, will inspire others to think about war's consequences. 'Return of the Cicadas' tells the story of a half-Vietnamese woman's first meeting with her American father in Manhattan.
"I wanted to humanize and tell a greater story, for people to be aware and be moved by the plight of these kids," said the Vienna resident.
Chu's 15-minute film will be one of many films shown at Jammin' Java's first-ever Mid-Atlantic Film Festival next week. For two hours on Tuesday, July 22, area residents will have the opportunity to view various short films and meet their directors, all of whom originate from the metropolitan Washington area.
Festival organizers intend to make the film festival a biannual event, with an awards ceremony every six months.
"There wasn't anything for your average filmmaker in this area," said co-owner Jonathan Brindley, himself a filmmaker.
Open to any area filmmaker, the inaugural event will feature films with lengths of 25 minutes or less and that represent various genres, styles and formats. Filmmakers found out about the festival through Jammin' Java's Web site and e-mail list, as well as through flyers and just coming into the coffeehouse to order a cup of joe.
"I think it would be good for people not just to see the stuff, but see the people who made them," said Luke Brindley.
The idea for the film festival came from a customer seeking to meet with other filmmakers. In order to make Jammin' Java a local hang-out serve more people's needs, the Brindley brothers, who came from New Jersey and have owned Jammin' Java since October 2001, have expanded the coffeehouse's programming beyond its musical acts to include a book and chess clubs, an art club, and improvisational comedy events.
Their efforts have given them some national notoriety, as president George W. Bush invited brothers Luke, Jonathan and Daniel to a small-business summit and talk show host David Letterman used a clip of Bush talking about the brothers and Jammin' Java on Letterman's evening show.
"We're trying to make this the meeting place for a lot of people who share those interests," said Luke Brindley.
For Chu, who hails from a family of writers involved in Vietnam's independence movement from France, the chance for others to view his film is a welcome opportunity. The aspiring filmmaker hopes to create more films looking at the Vietnamese-American experience.
"I'm compelled to do it...I want to shed light on things," Chu said. "I hope that it will move people in some way."