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Mike Ott, 2012
USA | 78 minutes
Director Mike Ott in person for Q&A!
Anna and Cory are two unlikely friends living in the nowhere town of Lancaster, California. Upon receiving news of her dying grandmother in Taipei, Anna, with no financial resources, starts to engage in sexual deeds to buy a plane ticket home. Meanwhile, Cory begs her to stay and travel with him to help find his estranged father, whom he’s never met. As her grandmother’s time runs out, Anna must quickly choose between her life in America and returning to Japan and the only real family she has left.
Inspired by Neo-realism as well as the French New Wave, Mike Ott constantly blurs the lines between reality and fiction in his work, and with Pearblossom Hwy he goes further than ever before. The script was developed as real events occurred in the lives of the cast: Lead actor Cory Zacharia received glum news about his own father, whom he had never met. Consequently, Ott constructed a narrative that incorporates Cory’s actual struggles, as well as using some of Atsuko Okatsuka’s (who plays Anna) life story in the film, and fictionalizes events to tackle issues of racism, immigration and the lost American dream.
Yet unscripted moments abound, and these are, in fact, at the heart of Ott’s work: The abandoned youth in small town America, the fallacy of the American Dream, and the truth that lies somewhere in that porous threshold between fact and fiction.