05/11/2013 05:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Together, Wherever We Go

In 1959, while working with Jule Styne on the songs for Gypsy: A Musical Fable, Stephen Sondheim concocted the following lyric for Act II's first number:

"Wherever we go, whatever we do,
We're gonna go through it together.
We may not go far, but sure as a star,
Wherever we are, it's together.

Wherever I go I know he goes.
Wherever I go I know she goes.
No fits, no fights, no feuds and no egos.
Amigos, together!

Through thick and through thin,
All out or all in.
And whether it's win, place or show.
With you for me and me for you,
We'll muddle through whatever we do.
Together, wherever we go."

Togetherness sounds cute but can often be quite challenging. Four short films screened at the 2013 San Francisco CAAMFest show four very different approaches to companionship.

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In Bollywood Invasion, a chunky young boy is seen being urged by his relatives to dance in front of the family. Shy and intimidated, he screws up his face and finally gets up the courage to run from the room.

By the time he enters college Rahul (Anand Desai-Barochia) has been transformed into a quiet hunk, the shy nerd with a great body who is still easily intimidated. Shaan Dasani's film uses Bollywood-style dancing as the lure to pull the young man out of his shell. It soon becomes clear that if Rahul wants to get to know Sonia (Amna Mazin), he's going to have to stand up to her ex-boyfriend and choreographer, Naveen (Niraj Mehta).

Shaan Dasani on the set of Bollywood Invasion

As the filmmaker explains:

"I always felt like the one thing that unites people from different cultures and backgrounds is music and dance. That idea was the reason why I wanted to make Bollywood Invasion. At its core, Bollywood Invasion is a story that most of us can relate to. The main character has a fear. One day, he meets someone special enough to make him want to overcome his fear. I'm sure many of us have been there, I know I have. In this case, his fear is of dancing in public, which started in childhood. As Rahul meets and gets to know Sonia, he realizes that he has a choice to make: either he can overcome his fear, or he can succumb to it.

If we, as a society, can understand that people of different backgrounds and orientations essentially experience the same emotions -- love, fear, insecurity, desire, etc -- then hopefully we make a step towards being more connected to one another. The moral of the story is that, whatever the challenge, there are always fears. But it's our job to overcome the fear and push forward. Unless we do, our dreams are never realized. I hope this film can inspire people on that level as well. Hopefully we are more likely to see someone else as 'the same' rather than 'the other.'"

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In Vincent Lin's 11-minute short, Benchmark, Donny (Vincent Lin) and T (Jake Choi) are two high school seniors shooting baskets in a New York City playground. With hours to go before their graduation ceremony, they have to leave the basketball court, change clothes, and get down to their school auditorium (which is bound to be filled with proud Asian parents bearing cameras).

Vincent Lin as Donny in Benchmark

Donny's old girlfriend, Clara (Laila Lilian Garro), would like to spend some time with him but T (who can be a bit of a dickhead) is aggressively running interference. T also has a big surprise in store for Donny before his friend heads off to Harvard.

In the following interview for, Lin discusses Benchmark and some of his other film projects:

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A two-minute short by Chicky Otani entitled Got A Job! is so sweet and simple that it's bound to enchant viewers. Two elderly women who work at a fortune cookie factory sit outside on their break, discussing the joys of their job. As they merrily show each other plastic bags filled with rejected fortune cookies, they boast that their job gives them a great fringe benefit: a free lunch consisting of all the fortune cookies they can eat!


Finally, we come to Love Bang! (a Khmer music video by Viet Le about a time traveling tranny love triangle), which almost defies description. Luckily, you can enjoy Love Bang! in its entirety in the following clip:

To read more of George Heymont go to My Cultural Landscape