Featured films this March on the X1 Asian American destination include “Good Luck Soup,” directed and produced by Matthew Hashiguchi. We got the chance to speak with Matthew about the inspiration behind this documentary and his journey as a Japanese American filmmaker.
Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month.
Matthew Hashiguchi: I began this film as a means to better understand myself and my family. It was difficult being one of only a few Asian American kids in my neighborhood, and that difficulty resulted in a great amount of confusion in myself and resentment towards my heritage. So, with this film, I wanted to go back and revisit my heritage and see what others in my family had experienced, what their identities were and what sorts of things they sought to pass down to the future.
How did you get into filmmaking?
MH: Initially, I entered storytelling as a way to learn about others and to live life. I was shy growing up and once I reached college, I wanted to enter a profession which forced me to learn about and meet others. Journalism was an obvious choice because I’d have to speak to people I didn’t know and enter situations that I was unfamiliar with. I started out as a photojournalist and quickly dove into video journalism right out of college. While I was interning with newspapers, I decided to go back to school and study documentary film. While I was in school I decided to transition towards film, rather than journalism.
What are some films and/or filmmakers who have inspired you?
MH: Ross McElwee, who made “Sherman’s March.” I really love the way he uses humor to address a serious issue. Martin Scorsese … I’m half-Italian American and love how he draws inspiration from his Italian and Catholic heritage when telling a story.
Do you have a favorite Asian American film?
MH: “Lust, Caution” by Ang Lee is not really Asian American, but it’s great. “Big Hero 6.” I really like the writing on “Master of None,” because it goes beyond ethnicity and speaks to a larger “other” in American society.
How or does your Asian heritage influence your work?
MH: Being Japanese has always placed me on the outside. I think that perspective of trying to be something else or trying to find my patch has influenced the stories that I want to tell.
What is your outlook on the state of Asian American cinema?
MH: Right now it seems that television has been a good place for Asian American voices. I think Asian American voices need to find a way to break out of the “Asian American” story so we can be part of the larger conversations in the United States, rather than as a niche topic.
What’s next for you?
MH: A short documentary of mine on undocumented immigrants fighting for a college education is currently making the film festival rounds. I’m also starting a new documentary on Savannah youth who have fallen victim to gang violence, and their quest to escape a life of crime.
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