Filmmaker Rick Tae is excited that the Vancouver Asian Film Festival selected his awkward tale of gay love-versus-lust as its centrepiece gala on Nov 9.
“I embrace, unapologetically, the fact that I am Asian,” says the Leo Award–winning Vancouver actor and director. “I don’t shy away from it.
“But I don’t want to make this film seem like a psychoanalysis of life! It’s meant to be fun and make people toy with the ideas of the characters.”
Following the romantic misadventures of Jack Gaang (Kent Leung) and his unrequited childhood crush John Jardine (Chris McNally), John Apple Jack tracks the characters’ coming-out journeys as John, a self-centred businessman spoiled by the extravagance and excess of his father’s gastronomic empire, tries to disrupt his line cook Jack’s wedding to his estranged sister.
“It’s not just a guy-meets-guy fantasy,” says Tae, who co-wrote and produced the film. “It’s really about connecting and finding your ability to love other people in order to learn about yourself.
“When I first wrote this, I thought, ‘I’m out and proud, now what?’ I’d spent so much time trying to come to terms with being gay. I’m looking forward into that future where everybody’s gay — so what!”
Tae hopes his film can help open up space for a classic romantic comedy, where gay characters are allowed to crash into their dysfunctions, families and flaws. “That was my fantasy and still is,” he says. “That’s the coming-of-age for me, personally — to be able to focus in on those crazy things.
“I absolutely understand that the conflicts still exist in the world; I don’t want to take away from that. But sometimes we so boil down everything to issues that we forget to simply love and find a family. It’s a day-to-day choice.”
For Tae, the underlying theme is that “we all yearn for something — love, harmony, balance, family.
“I didn’t want to make a judgment call, to tell people what is love or what defines a great relationship,” he says, when asked to resolve his characters’ love-versus-lust debate. “The relationships can go in multiple directions. I certainly wouldn’t mind writing a sequel.” — David P Ball