What is vindication? It’s vindicating to everyone who works on a project when it screens in a theater, even more so when you play to a full house. David Au’s EAT WITH ME, played to a packed theater for it’s World Premiere at the prestigious LA Film Festival 2014. It’s vindicating to get your story told. Director David Au, said in his Q&A after the screening that a lot of the story was drawn from funny moments in his life. For example, the inciting incident in Emma’s (Sharon Omi) life is when her husband Ray (Ken Narasaki) removes his wedding ring with pliers, completely destroying them. Though Au’s parents are still happily married, he used the story as a jumping off point, what would it have been if his mother had interpreted that act a different way? To see that lead into a full unique film must bring vindication.
It was a reunion for many of the crew, Joyce Liu-Countryman, who had moved to Berkley, CA shortly after the end of principle photography, and was the life blood of the film in as far as marketing, fundraising, and morale, the cast, David, and ReKon’s John Thomas Schrad, who worked as line producer on the film.
More than anything, the reason Schrad got involved was because the story. Originally Eat With Me was to be marketed as a GLBT film, and while it is that, the story is more universal. Elliot (Teddy Chin Culver) is gay and is the classic love protagonist who meets the love of his life. It’s also a coming of age story for Emma, a mother who has to come into her own, and accept that she isn’t needed to clean, raise or take care of anyone, and focus more on herself.
An audience member during the Q&A thanked David Au for making a story that made every character relatable in some way, that made them all human and flawed, but the story a universal one. Au made the movie as much about love as family, and as much about family as food, and and as much about understanding each other as understanding one’s self. For an audience member to say something aloud that the cast, the producers, and the director have all believed in and strove to achieve – especially when it had a tough road of low budget and genre-typed – I believe is the film industry textbook definition of vindication. Beyond showing at the LA Film Festival (which was amazing) and beyond achieving one man’s vision (which is fantastic), it’s connecting with another person, and proving it can still be done.
Congratulations David and Joyce. Fantastic.