One of the most dynamic female documentarians today, Jessica Yu, has made the big jump into narrative features with the Asian American-led comedy, Ping Pong Playa'. The film is about a carefree guy named C-Dub, who would rather gripe about his missed basketball prospects than get a solid job or take up the family sport of ping pong -- that is, until his mother and brother are hurt, and he has to save the family's honor at the ping pong championship. Cinematical got a chance to chat with Jessica, after the world premiere of the film, about how she got into narrative features, what it's like to make a ping pong movie, and what's next on the docket.
Cinematical: How are you enjoying the fest so far?
Jessica Yu: Oh, it's been great.
Cinematical: Is this your first TIFF?
JY: Yeah... I had a short here a long time ago, but it was a short...
Cinematical: Sour Death Balls?
Yeah, I think it was Sour Death Balls. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was it. So anyway, it's nice to be here.
Cinematical: You used to be on the US National Fencing Team, but you ended up doing a film about ping pong. Can you tell us a little about that?
JY: Why I turned my back on my fencing brethren? Well, I think that there's just something about the idea of a less-than-marquis sport. For a while, I wanted the film to be about badminton. Thank god it's not about badminton, because trying to CGI a badminton birdie... We didn't have to CGI Jimmy [Tsai]. He trained like you wouldn't believe, so he could really play. But for some of our other actors, we had to CGI some stuff. If we had a birdie... forget it. I'm glad it didn't turn out to be that.