Posts tagged with "Toni Erdmann"

Jeff Cehn image via Jodi Jackson at JJ Entertainment for use by 360 Magazine

Jeff Chen To Star in Plum Town

Talented Young Actor Jeff Chen Announces His Latest Staring Role in the Short Film “Plum Town.”

Talented young actor, Jeff Chen, is scheduled to star in the film short “Plum Town.” “Plum Town: is on *The Blacklist. Shooting is to begin in May 2021. “Plum Town” is a heartfelt story about reconciliation between a father and a son after years without seeing each other. Jeff loves his craft and always delivers amazing performances. He is super excited about this upcoming opportunity.

Jeff Chen hails from China. He moved to Los Angeles in 2018 to pursue his acting career. Since, he has made worked in film, television, and commercials. Jeff Chen comes many goodies in his acting tool-box– he is fluent in both English and Mandarin, has a bachelor’s d­­­egree from American University, and has a master’s degree from Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Jeff Chen has done scene study with The Ivana Chubbuck Studio. He has studied audition technique with the world-renowned Margie Haber, as well as Chris Holder.

Jeff Chen’s acting credits include commercials for NBA Chinese New Year, and Chevrolet.  His film credits include “Kiss of the Rabbit God,” a short film about a Chinese restaurant worker who falls in love with an ancient Chinese god. This god leads our hero on a journey of sexual awakening. The god is called Tu’er Shen (Rabbit God) who is an actual god from Chinese mythology who blesses and protects gay people. In this production, Chen played Shen. This film was directed by Andrew Thomas Huang.

In “Shanghai Sole”, Chen played a lawyer. “Shanghai Sole” presents a story about an American businessman who has to overcome culture, self-doubt and a toilet to close the deal of his life in Shanghai. This production is directed by Eli Stern.

In “I for I,” Chen played Jeremy, directed by Ash Coffelt. In “White Collar Lie,” Chen played Troy, directed by Rong Hou. “Almost American,” features Chen as Bruce, directed by Kunyou Lai, In “Home for Dinner”, as directed by Jiayu Liu, Chen he played Ken.

All of his various characters are thoroughly researched, and Chen brings a certain charismatic portrayal to everything he touches. Jeff says, “I find the character through the writing, every time I get a script, I look at something in my own experience that is relatable to the character, but each one has a large part of me wrapped up in it, you have to find it inside yourself, it’s a process”.

Jeff Chen has a huge heart, and he covets many charities. These charities include an NGO called Saving Promise which helps raise awareness for domestic violence. Chen feels strongly about the mission of Doctors without Borders, which he consistently supports. He is always thinking about giving back and wants to help anyone who is not as lucky as him.

Jeff Chen’s family means a lot to him. His beloved mother, a super successful businesswoman, carved the way for him to be confident, and to brush off any doubts and keep striving to the top.

Jeff Chen has got all of the goods, he is one of the most promising young actors in Hollywood. Jeff Chen’s time is now– don’t you want to be part of this phenomenon?

The Black List is an annual survey of the “most-liked” motion picture screenplays not yet produced. The Black List comes out in December and has been released since 2005, by Franklin Leonard, a development executive who subsequently worked at Universal Pictures and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment.

Jeff Chen spoke about this acting career:

How has your family inspired you and your acting?

My family actually discouraged me from pursuing acting. They are the typical Chinese parents, which means they want me to be a doctor, lawyer or an engineer. But since I was a kid, I loved entertaining them and make them laugh. The idea of being seen and heard inspired me to pursue this career.

Where do you see your career going in five years?

I want to have more on-screen presence in general. I want to do more films and explore roles that I haven’t gotten to play before. Also, I have always wanted to do a fun show that requires extremely good chemistry, like Friends or Modern Family. Doesn’t every actor want that though?

[Can you] talk about any directors you have worked with? 

I had the honor to work with Andrew Thomas Huang. He is known for his iconic visual style. Working with him on set is an eye-opening experience. He has a clear picture in his head and he communicates with me with trust. I enjoy[ed] every minute of working with him.

Where do you get your ideas for character development? 

Art imitates life. Observing people in real life just gives me so many resources to work with. I like observing people: watching how they walk, how they behave, how they talk. I also like to play with my imagination. I like to read the scripts and have the word stimulate my imagination. There are no rules of how to approach something. Usually, my instincts tell me what to do and I follow them.

What charities are you aligned with, and why? 

Years ago I worked for an NGO called Saving Promise. We helped raise awareness for Domestic Violence. I also donate to Doctors without Borders through my Amazon purchases. It’s not much, but every bit counts.

What acting projects will you be involved with in the future?

I just finished working on a short film that’s adapted from a Black List script. I am also talking to Andrew for a possible collaboration on a feature film in the future.

Who are your biggest influences?

So many people have influenced me and it’s impossible to just pick out one. Great movies are the reason that I want to pursue an on-screen career. I admire directors such as Pedro Almodovar, Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, Wong Kai Wei, Ang Lee, etc. I look up to their work so much.

What advice would you give to a young actor starting out?

Listen and learn from all the teachers, and challenge what you’ve learned. You have to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Most importantly, dare to fail.

Talk about your acting training–who have you trained with and why?

I am currently training under Margie Haber and Chris Holder at Ivana Chubbuck’s studio. Margie teaches me to use my imagination, and Chris teaches me to draw inspiration from my personal life.

How do you take care of yourself? [What’s] your health regime? 

Well I try to exercise as much as possible. I need physical activities to calm my mind.

If you could collaborate with another actor, who would it be?

Anya Taylor-Joy. I am a huge fan of Queen’s Gambit and her performance is hard to forget. I also love her work in the VVITCH and Split. Timothee Chalamet is another actor that I really want to work with.

What shows are on your DVR right now, and why?

I am finishing up Six Feet Under. The Sopranos and Handmaid’s Tale are also on my list.

Who are your favorite actors right now and why?

Well, there are just too many. Olivia Colman, Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino…All these great actors just inspire me to be better. I love actors.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor? 

About when I was one years old, I knew I wanted to be an actor. I just loved to watch movies and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

What actor/actress did you admire as a child?

I didn’t really admire any actors or actresses when I was a kid but I did want to be friends with Emma Watson and the entire Harry Potter gang. I was such a fan of Harry Potter.

What types of characters would you like to play in the future?

I want to play a really bad, sexy villain. That could be really fun. I also want to play a young artist, a poet, a loner, rebel without cause. These are characters I would love to dive into.

What’s your fashion style?

I honestly don’t know what my fashion style is. I do care about what I wear, but I don’t know how to label it. I know what vibes or feelings I want to give out, and I dress accordingly.

What do you do to relax?

I do yoga and rock climb. I also love hanging out with my friends.

What other businesses do you plan on starting to promote your brand?

Right now I am just focusing on my acting.

What’s the one thing you think everyone could do to make the world a more positive place?

Put yourself in others’ shoes more.

What would you be doing if you were not acting?

I think I would go to law school and be a lawyer. Or go back home to help my mom with her business.

What was your first memory of seeing great acting?

I remember watching “Cold Mountain” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” in high school. Renee Zellweger brought me into tears and Mr. Brando presented so much power through his performance.

What’s your favorite film, and why?

It’s impossible for me to pick one favorite film. Right off my head I can think of Chungking Express, Little Miss Sunshine, Brokeback Mountain, Toni Erdmann, Kill Bill, Amelie.

What are your first steps in taking on a new role?

I put on my detective’s glasses and look for all the information I could possibly find to help me live truthfully as the character. I want to know everything about them: social class, where did they grow up, what’s their physicality, etc.

What do you want to leave as your legacy?

Hopefully 50 years after I left this world, somebody will still watch my movies and go “hmm, I really believe him.”

Talk about your last 3 acting projects.

I just finished shooting for a short film called “The Plum Town”. It’s a heartfelt story about reconciliation between a father and a son after years without seeing each other. It’s adapted from the feature film script that was on the Black List.

Kiss of the Rabbit God” is a short film about a Chinese restaurant worker who falls in love with an ancient Chinese god. This god leads our hero on a journey of sexual awakening. The god is called Tu’er Shen (Rabbit God) who is an actual god from Chinese mythology who blesses and protects gay people.

“Shanghai Sole” is a story about an American businessman who has to overcome culture, self-doubt and a toilet to close the deal of his life in Shanghai.

How do you overcome challenges in your career?

Certainly there have been difficult times on this journey. At the end of the day, the love and passion for cinema just moves you forward. So you pick yourself up, dust off your shoulders, and move on.

Is there anything in your career that you wish you could do again?

I don’t really have any regrets. I do wish I could of come to LA earlier and had started this experience earlier.

What are your hobbies?

I like bouldering, hiking, and working out. I also love traveling. Karaoke is a big part of my life.

Fondest memory as a child with your family?

My mom is a strong businesswoman who has been busy with her business for the past 15 years. I don’t really get to spend a lot of time with her. When I was about 10 years old, she actually planned a one-day vacation for our family. We went to this amusement park for a day. I still smile every time I think about that trip.

Film illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Unforgettable Foreign Films

10 Foreign Films with the Most Unforgettable Love Stories

By Roberta Seret, PhD

I have two loves – literature and film. The most powerful love stories jump off the pages or off the screen, narrating different types of love turmoil, journeying through danger and obstacles to find love. The best love stories occur when love triumphs over evil. 

In the past twenty years, I have taught film through my NGO at the United Nations and at New York University. It is a love story that captures my students the most. Their 10 favorite love stories in foreign films deceit different ways of loving, but they all try to overcome these obstacles to find it. Although they may not always get their happy ending, it’s always worth the risk:

1.     JOJO RABBIT – (New Zealand) 2019, director Taika Waititi. During World War ll, ten-year-old Jojo is being brainwashed as a Hitler Youth. Strangely, his mother allows this, for it is her only way to protect him. We see how deeply a mother loves her son as she prepares him to be independent. Simultaneously, the director expresses his love for the future of children to do what’s right.

2.     HONEYLAND – (Republic of Northern Macedonia) 2019, directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary and Best Feature Film, this story recreates a Paradise Lost and its destruction by a greedy man. Love for beauty and nature, and the desire to recapture it, is represented by honey – becoming extinct – and man’s inhumanity to lose it.

3.     NEVER LOOK AWAY – (Germany) 2018, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Based on the life of the famous painter, Gerhard Richter, the director recreates the artist’s search for Truth. It is only through love for Art that the artist can find peace. It is this tumultuous search that pushes him/her to create.

4.     CAPERNAUM – (Lebanon) 2018, director Nadine Labaki. Lost children, abandoned, hungry, and forced to go against their conscience, are victims of war-torn Lebanon and Syria. The director opens her heart by using her hand-held camera to capture how children suffer in their struggle to survive. It is through her love for these children that we understand and want to help. 

5.     FACES PLACES – (France) 2017, directors Agnes Varda and JR. At 89-years-old and one year before her death, famed filmmaker, Agnes Varda embarks on a road trip to show her appreciation to the people of France. As a token of her deep love, she offers them a new type of art – photos of themselves – while she is making a film of their acceptance. Photography mixes with cinematography, the moving image fuses with still art, to show the director’s love for people and give them Art. 

6.     LION – (India/ Australia) 2016, director Garth Davis. The true story of 5-year-old Saroo, who gets lost on a train in India and cannot communicate in a different dialect to return home. He is placed in an orphanage and adopted by a couple from Tasmania, Australia. Twenty-five years later, his obsession to find his biological mother is proof of his filial love.

7.     TONI ERDMANN – (Germany / Romania) 2016, director Maren Ade. A father loves his ambitious, modern daughter and wants to help her understand what happiness and love are. But the generational gap proves to be stronger than his quest. Despite his struggles and sacrifices, she answers when she sings Whitney Houston’s song, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

8.     PHOENIX – (Germany) 2014, director Christian Petzold. Nelly survives World War II because she is obsessed at Auschwitz to be loved again by the man she loves. She does return to him but disfigured, and he does not recognize her. Deceitfully, he schemes to help her survive the traumas of her past. But as she learns the truth, will her love forgive him?

9.     IDA – (Poland) 2013, director Pawel Pawlikowski. Ida embarks on a spiritual journey to choose between a life of love and family, or God and religion. As she voyages toward the answer, she learns about her history and what the material world can offer. But she keeps repeating, “And then?” She realizes it is love for God and the spirit that can offer her the truest love.

10.  CASABLANCA – (USA/ Morocco) 1942, director Michael Curtiz. This is the best love story of all. For those who will see this film for the first time, I am jealous. This is an American movie made in Morocco with an anti-Hollywood ending. It shows and answers what is true love? What we see on the screen is a love that hurts – for all of us. And yet, love must be experienced, and this film must be seen!

Roberta Seret, Ph.D., is the director of Advanced English and Film at the United Nations for the Hospitality Committee and Founder of the NGO at the United Nations, International Cinema Education. She is the author of the Transylvanian Trilogy, with Love Odyssey releasing March 23, 2021. Visit her website for more information.