I AM A GHOST
Not since Jon Moritsugu parked a motorcycle in the middle of Asian American cinema and set it ablaze has there been a major Asian American film as unbeholden to tradition, as unencumbered by any cause, and as joyously liberated as H.P. Mendoza’s I AM A GHOST. It’s also terribly fun and uncommonly scary, and destined to be a cult classic.
I AM A GHOST is a haunted house story told from the other side: the perspective of the haunter. In this case, she’s an unknowing, accidental one – a ghost (played by Anna Ishida) in discovery of her identity, going through daily routines of cooking and mopping in a cycle of surprise, denial, and fear. A medium is hired by the haunted family to speak to her, in hopes that she can take her spectral footprints elsewhere. But acceptance is less acceptable when it means confronting a brutal past.
It’s an ingeniously simple conceit, and like all adventurous films, teaches us to watch the film as we go along. We follow disassociated images, not necessarily to piece together a puzzle, but to track a most uncanny experience as it becomes remembered, perceived, and forgotten in fractures. As he’s shown with his scores for Colma: the Musical (SDAFF ‘06) and Fruit Fly(SDAFF ‘09), H.P. Mendoza has an ear for sonic textures, and here applies them, in a collage of ambience, distortion, radio noise, dialogue, and silence, to dramatic and truly frightening effect.
As in those previous films, as well as Mendoza’s script for Yes, We’re Open, I AM A GHOST is playfully self-aware, digging into our love for haunted house films and 1970s tales of paranoia like Roman Polanski’s Repulsion. And within the rules of the genre, I AM A GHOST exorcises a most shocking and unusual specter: Asian Americans of an older San Francisco, haunting the present with repressed traumas that beg to be remembered. –Brian Hu
Co-presented by: USD Space Place Sound Living-Learning Community
Cast: Anna Ishida, Jeannie Barroga, Rick Burkhardt