As the San Francisco Asian-American International Film Festival wraps up yet another solid run, I had the pleasure of attending the Opening Night Screening which showcased the World Premiere of Quentin Lee’s latest achievement, “White Frog”.

Going into the screening I only knew a few things about this movie.┬áIt had Harry Shum Jr (Glee), he played someone’s brother, and they lived in the “perfect” community. I thought to myself okay, this is going to be a portrayal of how Asian Americans have integrated themselves into North American culture.

The rest of the cast seemed very well-rounded for this perfect type of story to unfold. Joan Chen (this year’s festival Honoree) plays a devoted & loving mother, BD Wong (Law and Order: SVU) plays a successful & wealthy father and young actor BooBoo Stewart (The Twilight Saga) plays a loyal younger brother.

However, the film’s story was quite the opposite of perfection. This is a story of an Asian-American family overcoming life’s obstacles. Obstacles that can’t be avoided, even while living in the suburbs. Nick (BooBoo Stewart) lives with Asperger’s syndrome and a tragic accident soon puts the family’s core to the test.

While I don’t want to spoil the film’s twists, I would say that “White Frog” was the perfect film to kick off the festival. It’s modern yet blends the older generation (Chen, Wong) with the newer generation (Shum, Stewart). It also mixes traditional ideals (being perfect, keeping secrets) with more liberal ideals (being different, staying open).

Red Carpet with the cast of White Frog. Photo by Michael Jeong.

Most of the cast was present for the World Premiere and went onstage for a Q&A session after the credits.

Harry mentioned that it was nice to take a part in something that was very different from his normal acting gig on that “one musical show”.

Booboo commented that he was influenced by a lot of Youtube videos dealing with Asperger’s syndrome. After watching those Youtube videos and doing additional research online, he formed his own version of the character Nick.

BD said that it was a very different role because he got to “play a character with an actual relationship.” Many of his previous roles have been smaller parts, often playing a doctor. His most famous role being Dr. Huang on Law and Order: SVU.

If you’re a fan of independent film or just a touching story, I recommend seeing this movie.

“White Frog” centers around being different and learning to accept yourself for who you are; a theme that continues to be carried on through the core of this festival and celebrated throughout Asian American cinema.

Who is the “White Frog” and what does it mean? You’ll just have to watch the movie to find out!