Director Erica Eng’s AMERICANIZED shares the story of a teen growing up in Oakland’s hip hop culture who struggles to fit in – on and off the court. The film, which was shot entirely in Oakland, CA at Eng’s own alma mater Skyline High School, has become Oscar-qualified after winning “Best Dramatic Short” at their world premiere at Cinequest. Eng wrote and directed the film based on her experiences. Eng, “I wrote this story based on my experiences growing up in Oakland as a fifth-generation Chinese American. I had a hard time understanding what it meant to be Chinese because my family didn’t speak the language, cook the food, or practice many of the traditions. I didn’t feel fully Chinese, or fully American – I just felt lost.” Erica Eng is now based in Los Angeles, but she continues to be inspired by her Oakland roots and creates work that reflects the diverse community in which she grew up. Her combined background in film and dance influences the rhythm and energy behind her emotional storytelling. Through her character-driven films, she creates stories that explore themes of cross-cultural relationships, acceptance, and self-discovery.
Eng partnered with Producer Simran Mahal, a first-generation Indian American, who immediately resonated with “Americanized” because growing up she found herself stuck between two cultures as well – not feeling Indian enough, or American enough. Mahal was the recipient of a 2020 SFFILM residency and her short films have screened at Sundance & SXSW. Mahal focuses her producing work on supporting minority and BIPOC artists and storytellers so she can support diverse narratives that shift viewers’ perspectives. The film stars non-binary actor Terry Hu (Disney’s Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 3 and winner of the 2018 ABC Digital Talent Competition) alongside, Amber Gaston (20th Century Fox short – Alien). The stunning cinematography was created by Drew Daniels (Waves and the Oscar-winning short film “Skin”).
Americanized has just begun its festival run and screened at Atlanta Film Festival and LA Shorts International before taking home the “Best Short Film” at Geena Davis’s Bentonville Film Festival and the “Young Cineastes Award” at the Palm Springs International ShortFest.