Atsuko Okatsuka Explores Family Matter w/ In Waiting

0 Comments 22 April 2016

atsuko okatsuka

Comedian and filmmaker Atsuko Okatsuka discusses her documentary short In Waiting, premiering Monday, April 25th at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

By Daniel Barron


The standards and expectations of family may vary across time or culture but one constant remains: It’s an assignment, not a choice. We learn to live and grow with what we have, however many commonalities do or do not exist. And there’s a certain grace to that experience. The responsibilities of family are explored in Atsuko Okatsuka’s documentary short In Waiting, which premieres on Monday, April 26th 25th at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, an eight-day celebration of Eastern cinema that began on April 21st and will run until April 28th. The 23-minute film follows the bond between Okatsuka’s Taiwanese mother and grandmother and the title refers to an enduring theme across all three generations.

She writes in an e-mail: “All of the subjects in the film (my grandmother, my mother, and me) are constantly in the act of waiting: Whether it’s my mom and grandma waiting for the bus to come, waiting for their retirement checks to come in the mail, or waiting for their next doctor’s appointment, they wait a lot.  And as a result, I wait as well.”

Diagnosed with both schizophrenia and epilepsy, Okatsuka’s mother has required the constant care of her grandmother, an element which became the focal point of the film. “They’re sort of stuck with each other.  I know a lot of duos like this, whether it’s couples who have been married with each other for decades or a mother-daughter combo (like in Grey Gardens).  I find duos very compelling– and my mother and grandmother together (though grumpy most of the time), are actually quite funny.”


atsuko okatsuka


She likens them to a modern day Laurel and Hardy, and observes that in filming she wanted to convey the concept of family love through dualities that are constantly shifting between family members. Despite the seemingly heavy content, she stresses that the film brings an often light touch. Comedy is a natural instinct for the filmmaker, who performs standup and runs Dis/orient/ed Comedy, the first-ever all-Asian-American (mostly) female standup tour that she co-founded with Jenny Yang. As a filmmaker she has also been the writer, producer, and star behind the so-called “Desert Trilogy,” which includes Lake Los Angeles, Pearlblossom Hwy, and Littlerock.

The LAAPFF is presented by the Asian Pacific media arts center Visual Communications and features an array of features, documentaries, shorts, presentations, and awards ceremonies all leading up to Asian Pacific Heritage Month.  In Waiting marks Okatsuka’s first time being showcased by the over thirty-year-old festival, but believes the story she tells is universal.

“I think that the film expresses generational and familial realities all across the board.  The film just happens to have Asian people in it.”

In Waiting will screen  with the feature What’s In A Name on Monday, April 25th at 9:15pm. Ticket info can be found HERE.




Learn more about Atsuko Okatsuka on her website.

Subscribe to Atsuko Okatsuka’s YouTube channel.

Follow Atsuko Okatsuka on Twitter and Instagram.


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- who has written 424 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Rudderless college graduate Daniel Barron founded Yay! LA Magazine on a love of writing, passion for the arts, and a firm belief that people really like talking about themselves. He contributed to a number of publications, including LA Music Blog and the defunct The Site Unscene, before deciding to cover arts and entertainment the way he wanted to read it. He works as a freelance writer and digital PR consultant in his current home of Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @YayDanielBarron.

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