Exclusive Mix from CuLosAngeles, new Tropical Bass party in LA bridging Pan African sounds and Queer identity

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by Tom Nguyen

We’re proud to premiere the latest mix by DJ Broso, who together with DJs Bianca Oblivion and Francesca Harding, are the musical geniuses behind a new tropical bass party in downtown Los Angeles called CuLosAngeles (ya you heard that right!) whose goal is to melt your booty on the dance floor. I’ll let Broso explain…

testHOW’D YOU MEET…

CuLosAngeles was the brainchild of me and Bianca Oblivion. I had just moved here from Guatemala last August and Bianca arrived shortly afterwards from Boston where she was completing her graduate degree. Our mutual DJ friend, Dudley, who used to throw amazing Tropical Bass parties in Boston connected us so we met up and immediately started geeking out together. We ate at Roscoe’s and then came back to my place and just played music for each other for hours and talked about everything we loved and wanted to see.

13041282_1173742045969421_2725761309457081082_oWhen it came to rounding out the roster, we both knew Francesca Harding (formerly known as DJ Panamami) was a perfect fit to join us since she is a monstrous DJ who has a more Organic and Latino approach to party music as opposed to my heavily Hood and Caribbean focus and Bianca’s more Electronic and Club oriented sound. The final piece of the puzzle was bringing my close friend Christopher Eclipse on board as our host. His charisma, sense of humor, lavish outfits and ability to lead the whole party in dance are like the perfect frosting on the CuLosAngeles cupcake. Continue Reading →

8th Annual Hola Mexican Film Festival: Top 10 Picks and Interview with founder Samuel Douek

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by Tom Nguyen

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©2015 WilkiIMAGE Photo By Wilki W.K. Tom

The 8th Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival which showcases the most recent cinema from Mexico opens this Friday, May 13 and runs through Sunday, May 22, in downtown Los Angeles. I had a really enlightening conversation with founder Samuel Douek who gave me a frank, honest insider look at the challenges of putting this festival together and marketing it beyond just the Mexican American community in Los Angeles. As daunting as it is, Douek and his hard-working team have put this festival on 8 years strong and I hope you come out and support it! My top 10 picks follow our interview:

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Viet Film Fest Highlights Transgender Rights and Nail Salon History & Unsafe Working Conditions

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by Tom Nguyen

This year’s Viet Film Fest impacted me greatly, not just as a Vietnamese immigrant refugee but also because the festivals highlighted social justice issues important to me: LGBTQ rights, in particular the rights of the transgender community through the film “Finding Phong” and the history and current unsafe working conditions of the nail salon industry, dominated by Vietnamese immigrants and other people of color, through the documentaries “#NailedIt: Vietnamese & The Nail Industry” and “Painted Nails”.

It’s no secret there is still a lot of homophobic and transphobic attitudes in the very traditionally conservative Vietnamese community and culture, both in the global diaspora communities and in Vietnam. In 2013, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were barred from participating in the yearly Tet Lunar New Year Parade in Orange County, home to the largest Vietnamese community abroad. It was only due to a lot of civic and public pressure that members of the LGBTQ community were allowed to participate the following year.

Expecting attitudes in my native Vietnam to be even more unforgiving, I was surprised to hear about a documentary highlighting the transgender experience there. The film “Finding Phong” is a video diary of one transgender woman, Le Anh Phong, and her quest to get gender-reassignment surgery. It’s a deeply personal look at her thoughts, aspirations and insecurities.

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Top 10 Picks: Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2016

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by Tom Nguyen

The 32nd annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) opens Thursday, April 21, with the world premiere of “The Tiger Hunter”, at Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, and screens a diverse array of 140 films (34 features and 106 short films) through Thursday, April 28, when it closes with “Pali Road”, at Directors Guild of America.

Here are the Top 10 films I’m looking forward to seeing (in order of appearance at the festival): Continue Reading →

Top 10 Picks for Outfest 2015 LGBT Film Festival

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by Tom Nguyen

With the historic Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, there is a lot to celebrate at this year’s Outfest LGBT Film Festival in Los Angeles, one of the longest-running film festivals dedicated to exploring and celebrating the stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lives. The festival opens July 9 with Tig, the inspiring documentary about comedian Tig Notaro’s struggles with cancer, and the festival continues through July 19 with 166 documentaries, features, shorts, and classic films from around the world. Here are my top 10 picks!

BEST OF ENEMIES
THURSDAY | July 16 | 7:00pm | DGA 1
Amidst national turmoil during 1968, 2 commentators, liberal writer Gore Vidal and hardline conservative William F. Buckley, faced off during national television in heated debates that symbolized the country’s culture war between traditional and progressive values.

THE NEW GIRLFRIEND
SUNDAY | July 19 | 8:00pm | Theatre at Ace Hotel
A French drama about a woman who begins a love affair with her deceased best friend’s husband, who secretly dresses up in his wife’s clothes. Continue Reading →

14 Rappers, 14 Countries for UNICEF: Where are the Women MCs?

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by Tom Nguyen

Dear San E and UNICEF,

I was excited to discover your music video #HIPHOPISHIPHOP – Hip Hop for the World bringing together 14 rappers from 14 countries to express the unifying love of hip hop. I love that this video was made in the tradition of the iconic song We Are The World, to bring light on an important global issue: children’s access to education. Except for the venerable KRS-One, I love that I didn’t know any of the rappers. Thanks for giving talented rappers around the world a chance to shine!

Now, I ask…where are the women? I was quickly disappointed to see that out of 14 rappers, there was only one woman, YACKO from Indonesia. Why does this bother me? While every rapper in that video is talented and deserving and I applaud each of them, I have so many reasons for why this gender imbalance in your video upsets me.

Hip hop has historically been a very unfriendly and unfair place for women and it still remains so. Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia are big problems in hip hop songs, lyrics and culture. I’m afraid your video only reinforces the exclusion of women in hip hop. If We Are The World had better inclusion of women in 1985, I’m sure we can do better in 2015.

Since you are using hip hop as a platform for children’s education and your own statistics show that girls suffer greater disadvantage and exclusion from education in so many parts of the world, wouldn’t you have wanted to represent more women as role models? If you had included more women cyphers, I think your message would have been much more powerful and inspiring in your quest for gender equality in education.

After all, you released this video during Women’s History Month and right before International Women’s Day. I think you squandered a very good opportunity to not only address the inequality of access to education, but to also give strength to the message that the ones most affected by that inequality are girls around the world. You could have shown young girls everywhere that they have the same right and ability to succeed in any male-dominated space.

However, I have faith in an organization that is doing so much to achieve gender equality. We’re far from achieving equal human rights and opportunities for one half of the world’s population and it’s critical to keep empowering girls and women worldwide. There are no lack of girls and women on the front lines of society fighting for equality and freedom every day in every part of the world, and hip hop is no exception. In many countries, just being female, queer or trans in male-dominated hip hop is defiant and revolutionary. Below are just 14 of so many countless talented female, queer and trans rappers (in alphabetical order) who are not only rapping but doing so by challenging the status quo and giving voice to marginalized communities around the world. I hope you’ll consider them in a second hip hop video.

Respectfully,
Tom Nguyen

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