Still from Chee and T, by alumnus Tanuj Chopra '06

Two Films by Alumnus Tanuj Chopra '06 Featured on The 'LA Times' List of Best Asian American Films

BY Felix van Kann, November 9, 2019

Two films by alumnus Tanuj Chopra ‘06, Punching at the Sun and Chee and T have been named on the LA Times list of “The 20 best Asian American films of the last 20 years.” The list, created by more than 20 Asian American film critics, puts Punching at the Sun at the 25th spot while Chee and T lands in 56th place. 

 

Commenting on the creation of the list, Brian Hu of the LA Times said: “Clearly, it’s time for a canon [of Asian American films], a set of films that fans can debate, but which make undeniable that Asian American cinema exists and elicit some consensus about their quality and cultural impact. To determine that canon, we invited more than 20 Asian American critics and curators who professionally observed and debated the scene for the last two decades to participate in a poll. They were limited to films from this period (2000-2019) directed by and prominently featuring Asian Americans. 

 

Still from "Punching at the Sun", by alumnus Tanuj Chopra '06

 

Punching at the Sun is a crackling, emotionally charged dream ride through the streets of Elmhurst, Queens. It is a tale of rage and redemption as seen through the fiery eyes of Mameet Nayak: a headstrong Indian teen lost in the shadow of his brother’s death in the aftermath of 9/11. 

 

In Chee and T, a pair of underachieving debt collectors stuck in Silicon Valley, spend their days kicking in doors, collecting rent, and chain smoking. The man-children survive by remaining in the employ of Chee's Uncle Rob, a wealthy Silicon Valley landlord-tycoon. When Uncle Rob asks them to do a seemingly small job: get his nephew Mayunk a fresh haircut and new suit for his upcoming engagement party, Chee and T kick back thinking they're in for the easiest job of their 'careers.' Unfortunately for the duo, young Mayunk has an unfiltered swagger and talent for hunting down narcotics.

 

Tanuj Chopra is a filmmaker from the Bay Area who holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University and currently lives in Los Angeles. His first feature film, Punching at the Sun, premiered at the 2006 Sundance and Tribeca film festivals and won the Grand Jury Prize at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. His recent award-winning features Grass and Chee and T were both acquired in 2017 by genre leader Comedy Dynamics. Chee and T premiered at 2016’s Los Angeles Film Festival where it won a jury prize for comedy. Grass won best picture at the Austin Asian American film festival. He was recently selected to the Fox Global Filmmaker Initiative and the Sony TV directors lab. His new feature film Hummingbird is currently in post-production.