‘Linsanity’ arrives in Hawaii
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / email@example.com
“Linsanity,” the story of an Asian-American athlete who captured America’s imagination, was an equally powerful draw for Daniel Dae Kim and the filmmakers who made his story into a documentary.
The documentary film about Jeremy Lin, culminating with Lin’s miracle season with the New York Knicks in 2012, had its premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival’s Spring Showcase on Thursday, April 11.
Before the film screening, Kim appeared with “Linsanity” director Evan Jackson Leong and producers Christopher Chen, Allen Lu and Brian Yang at a press event and Q&A for the film at the Modern.
Lin “was a source of pride for most Asian-Americans,” Kim said. “When I heard they were doing a documentary, I was excited and started asking some questions. … As soon as Brian (Yang) asked me to be a part of it, I said, ‘Yes, absolutely.’
“I THINK Jeremy Lin’s story in some ways is a parallel to Asian American stories in general in this country,” Kim said.
“We can talk about all the things that have gone wrong for Jeremy, but all the things that have gone right — when you think about all the things that have gone right, they are really the only way that he could have succeeded in the way that he has.
The fact that he had the ability, that he had the perseverance, and that he succeeded despite people not giving him a chance … it’s really an important story for Asian Americans.”
“The first time I heard about Jeremy Lin, he was at Harvard,” Leong said. “Me and Christopher Chen, we had a monthly breakfast, and he said, ‘This might make a good story.’ I did my research on him, and he was breaking records, he was dunking, and I said, ‘Hey, this has the potential to make a great story.’
“The more I learned about him, the more I could relate to his journey.”
Initially, Lin said “no” to the documentary. “Many times,” Chen noted. But like Lin himself, the filmmakers kept coming back.
The filmmakers started following Lin four years ago, helped along by the efforts of Lu, whose aunt is Lin’s mother. In 2012, when the New York Knicks pulled Lin off the bench and he delivered in spades, sparking nationwide “Linsanity,” the filmmakers were already years deep into the story.
“It was crazy,” Leong said. “It was Linsanity for us, too, on many levels. … We went through the same journey that he went though; as his downs were going down, we were also going down, because no one cared what was going on with our project.”
Producer Brian Yang, best known as an actor on “Hawaii Five-0,” said he’s followed Lin out of interest in an outstanding Asian athlete since Lin’s Harvard days. But even with that long observation of Lin, he said no one could have predicted Linsanity.
“We got lucky, no bones about it,” Yang said. “We were very passionate about the story, but for this ending to happen – it’s beyond our wildest dreams.”
Chen said the filmmakers’ perseverance paid off, in sticking with Lin through the down times.
“Linsanity was obviously a widely covered media event, but we got the stuff that wasn’t covered,” Chen said. “We got the stuff behind the scenes. What most people have seen is what’s on ESPN and what’s on the court. We got the stuff that’s off the court. …
“We had the responsibility to tell the story of Jeremy,” Chen said. “So as much as we were celebrating, we were working pretty hard.”
The April 11 Hawaii premiere of “Linsanity” sold out, and was expanded to two screens at its Regal Dole Cannery showing.
Filmmakers said they expect to make an announcement about a distribution deal that will bring the movie to theaters nationwide in the next few days.
The movie is “so family-friendly,” Yang said. “Tell your 9-year-old friends.”
Jeremy Lin remains a prominent player, now with the Houston Rockets. The team qualified for the playoffs this week, and some observers are saying he’s playing his best basketball of the season at a pivotal time for the team.
On April 8, Lin posted on Twitter, noting that he has more than 1 million followers on the site: “Whoaaa 1,000,000 followers…THANKS to you guys!!”
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.