Asian American-driven short ‘Alice’ set to take off at HollyShorts film fest

A new short film that will premiere Wednesday at the HollyShorts Film Festival in Hollywood explores a dilemma known to generations of Asian Americans: How do you deal with immigrant parents who disapprove of their children choosing creative careers over law and medicine?

In “Alice,” created, starring and written by Sarah Chang and directed by Kari Lee Cartwright, a quirky Korean American dancer struggles to make her dream come alive while dealing with her parents, who are of a more traditional stock. The cast also includes Crystal Lee, Jerry Marr and Esther Moon.

The film is loosely based on Chang’s own life. She began ballet as a young girl. Her father immigrated to the U.S. with nothing in his pockets before going to medical school and becoming a doctor. He wanted much of the same life from her, she said, and had a hard time adjusting to the idea of his daughter as an actress.

“It’s about, how do you break free from that?” Chang said. “I tried to make [‘Alice’] accessible, because I feel like my story is so American. It’s about being between two cultures.”

She began the project after facing the hardship of getting roles on TV and films, determined to make her own work. “Alice” originally began as a feature film, and that plan may still be underway, Chang said.

For now, the focus is on entering the project to festivals. “We’re excited to be sharing ‘Alice’ for the first time in our home in Los Angeles, where it all began,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see that more Asian American stories are finding a foothold in our cultural landscape.”