VIFF — Mangoshake
This film is crazy! Crazy good, that is. And just crazy.
Terry Chiu shows his brilliance in this feature debut through a myriad of interactions amongst a group of friends. It is a boring summer in suburbia, and almost anything goes.
Best described by their Facebook page, is the plot outline:
This is kids hanging around a lemonade stand but instead of lemons it’s mangos. This isn’t some lyrical expression of their aimless, longing-filled youth. At Mangoshake, alternate perspectives of angst will collide — with that a chance at some humility and actual connection.
Still confused? You probably still will be after watching the film. However, as Chiu himself says, “each person [viewer] gets to have their own individual perspective.” Once you let go of trying to figure out what is going on, then you can actually enjoy it and absorb it. Plenty of messages, plenty of outrageous acts, and definitely plenty of laughs.
Be empowered by it; experiencing something that isn’t limited by traditional conceptions of what movies should be — Terry Chiu
MESSAGE FROM TERRY CHIU TO DR. JEN OCT.20/18
Message: Dear Jennifer, I was looking for a way to write to you and ended up here, so I hope it’s all right! Thank you for giving Mangoshake a chance, for meeting my dear friends and I after the screening, and for your very kind review on Mind Your Madness. It’s very encouraging that you embraced the kind of storytelling we took the chance in exploring. If a movie as unconventional as Mangoshake can leave a positive mark, then I’m putting my hope into continuing to undo the structures that restrict people’s ability and willingness to expand how open our perceptions of communication and how to come together through them can be. I plan to continue this initiative in the next work, and if you’ll end up being there for it, I would be excited! If there’s ever a place in your work that would help continue Mangoshake’s momentum, that’d be amazing. In the event you ever have need of it, I’m passing along the movie’s mission statement, which includes a manifesto addressing culture — thematically relating just as much to the next work. Thanks again Jennifer! Cheers, Terry
MANGOSHAKE — MISSION STATEMENT WHY? Mangoshake is not about endearing outsiders just trying to connect. It’s about the hypocrisy and entitlement that lies underneath the coming of age ideas and tropes our culture has toxically ingrained into our expectations. The characters in this story represent the very archetypes that have continuously let us down with misguided hope. So when they’re punished because of their damage — the damage on themselves and to each other — the intention is a resonance more disillusioned than the genre’s classic submission into naïve longing, conceptualized romantic delusions, contrived scenarios of victory, and vain, good-looking tristesse. But although these characters aren’t necessarily sympathetic, they have to be compelling, because they reflect us, and these characters have to communicate what we’ve been doing wrong, be it through heightened absurdity or grounded moments of these characters just existing. Because we grew up believing in these archetypes, we need to be exposed to their truth, and we should welcome the rupture. This is technically a coming of age movie, but it’s an end to what the genre has taken for granted, hence hopefully the destruction of coming of age. RAW Cinema as a form of expression is for the larger part exclusive to those who have nice things, be that connections, money, extremely hot relatives. Even independent cinema goes from a movie’s industry budget of 1000 trillion to 100 million — give or take — and that’s considered modest. Then when you look at the movie itself, there’s an invisible wall between the viewer and the storyteller, the illusion that you’re not supposed to know you’re watching a movie yet you’re supposed to connect to the lie it’s telling. And even when you do sense the storytellers, they’re usually egomaniacal auteurs who believe they’re omnipotent transcendental concepts who want you to know how brilliant they are. Mangoshake is an attempt at a different kind of unapologetic chaos. The philosophy is taking nobody-filmmaking to a raw place that can challenge the inclusivity of the cinematic language, and to communicate a story that have-nots could’ve made and could connect with. Regardless of if one thinks this works or not, what could matter more is if it gets across what it could represent. If it could be an honest expression of nobodies putting together a feature-length movie that holds resonance. That it’s all right to know it’s spiritually and physically held together by duck tape. Through what it dismisses in the illusion, it can create a sincere expression between the storytellers and the viewers, both of whom equally want to make sense of things. CULTURE This is generation 4K. This is generation So-HD-we-can-see-one’s-acne-scars-and-forget-something-needs-to-be-said. Though at the same time, there’s a reverse culture to that. There’s endless media out there and if you search enough, you’ll likely find what gets you going. But in one sense you either have to really dig, or be an obscure cinema specialist, or just know where to find the things you embrace. And that speaks to this abstract sense of what’s overall exposed and out there to be accessed. Mangoshake is the result of a dude with no privileged roots who said “Screw it” and made a feature with the hope that it can be embraced for what it is, that it speaks to those who relate to that feeling, and also speaks to those who wouldn’t necessarily consider a feature by a nobody with the same merited anticipation and expectations as a prestige art house film or a guaranteed blockbuster. The gap must be bridged between DIY underground cinema and mainstream cinema. DIY underground cinema doesn’t have to be as limited to the audience that inherently embraces it. And that’s not to whatsoever dismiss that audience. Because that demographic already gets it and is the reason Mangoshake’s even been screened. It’s about seeing how much DIY underground cinema can reach out to the widest audience possible, so that our notions of cinematic language can be more open and less compartmentalized in terms of taste. Cinema needs to be more than something you just watch and decide whether you “liked” or even “got” it. It should be an experience, and one that you come away from with your own earned individual perspective, because we are all inherently individualistic. So if you take Mangoshake as metaphorical to a real life window of time, what you perceived from it is unique to you, contrary to the kind of movie where viewers simply ask each other if they managed to follow everything. Just like life, you experience Mangoshake in your own way, and if you can share that with others’ experiences of it, hopefully a different kind of dialogue and connection can occur. That’s the cinema we can strive to contribute — experiences that offer people the chance to come together through different perspectives. Mangoshake is an absolute declaration of street / DIY / lo-fi / guerrilla / underground cinema, and it carries the hope that stories out of this cinema can be considered at least just as resonant as those in well-budgeted independent and mainstream cinema, regardless of technical and production value construct. It’s about contributing to our culture a different kind of work that reaches the widest audience possible while transcending the invisible limits of how raw and uncompromised our range of expression can be. And through the opportunity to share that expression with that audience, we can do what we individualistically can in bringing culture, people, and the future together. — Terry Chiu, Sandwich provider / director on Mangoshake