English-language Asian film streaming service Chopso launches, featuring several Vancouver filmmakers

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      In the wake of numerous concerns about the whitewashing of Asian roles in Hollywood in addition to ongoing underrepresentation on screen, a new streaming service has launched that will help to make English-language Asian content more accessible to audiences.

      Cofounders and filmmakers Koji Steven Sakai (The People I've Slept With) and Quentin Lee (The Unbidden) officially announced the kick-off of Chopso on November 2.

      Sakai, a former Japanese American National Museum vice-president, explained in a news release that he was once asked why Asian American filmmakers hadn't made anything since Justin Lin's 2002 crime-drama Better Luck Tomorrow.  

      "This blew me away as Asian Americans had been making content, only it was hard for people to see it because there was no ‘one' place to go," Sakai stated. 

      Lee added that their new platform will also help filmmakers reach audiences.

      "My first feature, Shopping For Fangs, launched at the Toronto International Film Festival twenty years ago in 1997," Lee stated. "At that time, I didn’t get the distribution offers I wanted and went on to distribute the film theatrically myself with high hopes but little luck. Today, twenty years later, technology and the internet have made niche-casting a profitable venture. We founded Chopso as a global-distribution outlet for all the English-language Asian content and their creators who may not find distribution elsewhere in the traditional distribution market place."

      Vancouver YouTuber Linda Dong

      Vancouver YouTuber Linda Dong, who is among Chopso's ambassadors, is contributing a collection of her videos to the service.

      The Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF), which is currently running until November 5, announced its partnership with Chopso at its opening gala on November 2.  Chopso will be the online distribution partner of the festival, in addition to Pacific Arts Movement's San Diego Asian Film Festival and the Japanese American National Museum.

      VAFF president and founder Barbara Lee's documentary feature Sing My Song will be the first project to be featured in a Chopso fundraising campaign in partnership with Hatchfund. Sing My Song follows songwriter Kayee Lee's search for a singer for her songs.  

      B.C. filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns

      Local films on the site include Ben Ratner's 2013 feature Down River and Jeff Chiba Stearns' animated shorts "What Are You Anyways?" and "Yellow Sticky Notes".

      The company also features a news site that includes articles about Asian American and Canadian filmmakers, including local animator Ann Marie Fleming (Window Horses).