David, father of a friend of mine from university, was sitting with us watching “Get Shorty” when at one point, he remarked, “That was such a well written line!”
It only dawned upon me then that movies were actually written. I suppose I had thought it was all improvised.
Years later, at a contemporary film festival, I had gotten free passes into a Q&A session with Jean Claude Carriere, the screenplay writer of many of Luis Buñuel’s movies, who was the equivalent of Martin Scorsese. He told a story about how Buñuel, who was so excited about a Spanish film called “La Caza” by a then, very political Carlos Saura, sat in the theater with Carriere (who spoke no Spanish at the time) and translated the entire movie to him. Carriere later told Saura, who nowadays is a Spanish director of repute in the dance film genre, and told him the story.
Saura had cried, honored that such a master of film would go to such lengths to simultaneously translate his movie.
I went up to talk to Carriere afterwards. Others were looking for autographs or photos or a phone number.
When it was my turn, I said, “Sir, I don’t want an autograph or a photo. All I want is to tell you how much of an amazing person I think you are.”
He looked to his right at someone but from his profile, I could tell he was surprised. And without so much as a warning, he pulled into a hug and kissed me on the head. I asked if I could properly hug him back and thanked him.
I ran to the bathroom, locked myself in and started crying. It felt like falling in love and falling out of love all at once. Impossible, I thought, I’m not in love with him. That would be silly.
And it came to me: he didn’t look at me as an Asian and not even as a woman. He looked at me as a person with something to say.
He had said, “When you write, you must kill your father, rape your mother and betray your country.” And for some reason, I understood.