Outtakes Online: ‘Linsanity’ coming to Honolulu

Jul. 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

BY MIKE GORDON / mgordon@staradvertiser.com

If you missed the only Hawaii screening of “Linsanity,” the feel-good documentary about basketball star Jeremy Lin that filled a pair of theaters in April, don’t despair. Honolulu is one of 10 cities slated for the film’s theatrical release on Oct. 4.

“We’re excited,” said actor Brian Yang, one of the producers of the documentary, in a call from New York. “I know a lot of people didn’t get to see it. So I am excited to have more people see it.”

Jeremy Lin in action on the basketball court earlier this season. (Associated Press)

Jeremy Lin in action on the basketball court earlier this year. (Associated Press)

The documentary followed Lin, the first Asian-American pro basketball player since 1947 as he struggled to become part of the NBA during his rookie season. Director Evan Jackson Leong thought he was filming a story that would end badly after Lin was cut by two teams and rode the bench for a third — the New York Knicks.

By now, sports fans around the world know what happened next, despite the improbability of it all: In early 2012, Lin led the Knicks to a seven-game victory streak that made him the darling of the Big Apple.

“Linsanity,” which is narrated by “Hawaii Five-0” star Daniel Dae Kim, is being distributed by Ketchup Entertainment, which immediately started bidding on the film after its successful premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Yang said, who has a recurring role as lab technician Charlie Fong on “Five-0.”

“They fell in love with it,” he said.

So did Hawaii movie fans when the Hawaii International Film Festival selected “Linsanity” as the closing-night film at its Spring Showcase. The documentary filled two 400-seat theaters for a simultaneous screening.

A big-screen distribution deal goes beyond anything the filmmakers expected when they started working on “Linsanity,” Yang said. In fact, the project was initially viewed as a series of web episodes, he said. The filmmakers thought they might attract a few thousand people — the “cult following” that had watched Lin play at Harvard University, Yang said.

“This is beyond a dream come true, because we didn’t even have that dream,” Yang said. “We started this before Jeremy was world famous. We had no preconceived notions. Realistically speaking, it wasn’t even a pipe dream.”

“Linsanity” will also be screened in New York City, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, Washington, D.C., Houston, Chicago, San Diego and Seattle.

If the film does well, other cities could be added, Yang said.

Yang produced the film with longtime friend Christopher Chen and Allen Lu, who is Lin’s cousin. Yang and Chen discovered in 2009 that each was a fan of the basketball star, who at the time was a senior at Harvard.
Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at mgordon@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.

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