Asian Pop-up Cinema founder talks male-dominated cultural norms

Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 8 Program announced its 16 films for its festival, scheduled for March 12 to April 24. The semi-annual festival will showcase 23 filmmakers (four are women) and will run at the AMC River East in Chicago.

The four films directed by women include:

Ten Years (Akiyo Fujimura): Five directors share their vision of a nearly futuristic Japan.

The Ito Sisters (Antonia Grace Glenn): Documentary about Japanese migrants lives and their American children.

Circle of Steel (Gillian McKercher). A chemical engineer thinks about her future in the mist of layoffs.

Memories of a Dead End (Choi Hyun-young): A woman visits her long distance lover, when he suddenly stops contacting her, to find that he is engaged to someone.

FF2 Media caught up with founder Sophia Wong Boccio. Read an edited transcript of the conversation below:

SAT: Female filmmakers are at a much lower scale [in Asia]. Do you care to comment?

SWB: Traditionally in Asian culture, it’s always been a male-dominated society. The men work and bring home the money. And, the women play the housewives’ roles, raising the children. That’s a traditional society. In Hong Kong, there are only one or two female Asian directors. I can’t say much about [in the U.S.]. But in Asia there is definitely a lower percentage. It’s a combination of cultural society being the norm and that there were fewer local film schools. It’s harder for the females to study abroad. If a family has money, they first send the son. It’s just historical. Money isn’t a priority, but if they can afford to send a child, they send the son. I would say the last 20 years have changed a little bit. There are more local film schools now. There is more local female production, with executive producers, assistant producers and scriptwriters. That’s how I see it.

Sophia Wong Boccio, 王曉菲
Founder & Executive Director Credit: Asian Pop-Up Cinema Website

SAT: Your parents were in the film industry, with your mother being a film actress and your father being a film editor. Why didn’t you pursue a film career?

SWB: Even as a young girl, my mom told me that it’s very tough for a woman to go into the film industry, in acting or anything. She never encouraged me to be involved in acting, or anything. That shows how deep the mentality is.

SAT: Do you think you’ll ever go into it later on?

SWB: I think I’m a producer now. In producing my own show. A film festival is a show, it’s a production. It could be very big with more funding. But, it is a show. I’m actually doing it. I’m not a filmmaker but I’m directing the show. It’s just a live show.

SAT: Why is the festival only semi-annual?

SWB: Because it’s much easier to manage 16 films as opposed to 40. But right now I can be flexible for 16 films. And I think, also, that people are very busy.

SAT: Is Asian Pop-Up going to be long-term?

SWB: I’m not the type of person to do anything overnight. Once I started something, I wouldn’t let go. I hope in five years, I’ll be more successful. So that I can transfer over some of the duties, and have a couple of full-time employees. Then we can take it from there.

Tickets are on sale now, and range from $8 to $15 with discounts for seniors and students at AMC River East. Tickets not affiliated with AMC are $10. A limited amount are free to students. The festival will also show screenings in Michigan and Canada. For more information visit

© Stephanie Taylor (2/28/19) FF2 Media

Featured image: Ten Years (Akiyo Fujimura)

Tags: asian films, Asian Pop Up Cinema, Sophia Wong Boccio

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Stephanie A. Taylor is a multi-award-winning journalist whose accolades span three publications including FF2. Some of her favorite articles she's written are Emma Cooper’s ‘The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Tapes, FACETS Honors Chaz Ebert F2F at Screen Gems 2022 Benefit, and Dorothy Arzner’s ‘Merrily We Go to Hell’ Discusses Modern Day Problems. She currently lives in Chicago. Reading, writing, and watching old films are some of her many passions.
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