Rey Tang began writing scripts and making short films in the seventh grade, after becoming inspired by Asian-Americans showcasing their videos through YouTube. After being accepted to Northwestern University, she moved from New Jersey to Chicago to begin studying Radio/Television/Film, while also pursuing a double major in Economics. In high school, while writing, shooting, and editing shorts with friends through the school's Film Club she had founded, Rey won a National Medal from the Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition. Her work "Just Another File", which conceptualized Death as an overworked bureaucratic worker, later went on tour with Scholastic's Art. Write. Now. Tour exhibit in 2017-2018. Currently, she is focused on her work as the writer and director of "Noodles & Incense", and hopes to give a voice to the Asian-American Community through the short.
Growing up in America, I can remember spending countless Chinese New Years in the kitchen, where my Mom would set down a piping hot bowl of noodles in front of me and explain its cultural significance. Every year, I'd remember nodding and smiling politely, before ravenously devouring my meal without a second thought.
Being a product of the diaspora, I felt that experiences such as this were plentiful. We were always told stories about China, yet we never truly understood what they meant. We understood that it had something to do with heritage - that these very traditions are deeply ingrained in our bones - and yet, it all strangely felt irrelevant to the life that I was leading in the United States.
NOODLES & INCENSE was born from this ongoing contradiction - the tug-of-war from both the powerful pull of a homeland I didn't quite understand, and the more tangible life that was present right in front of my eyes. For me, I often felt this conflict through guilt. In a very abstract sense, I felt as if I was "letting down" my ancestors through taking on an unconventional occupation and for being a transgender woman.
Through this film, I saw both mine and thousands of other Asian-Americans' experiences reflected on-screen: this constant reminder that we aren't good enough, that we've somehow failed our culture. Our film explores the violent clashes of this duality of identity, and furthermore is also a respectful homage to the beautiful intricacies within Chinese culture.
Although the protagonist of our movie experiences catharsis through the ever-present love of her late Grandmother, other queer people from immigrant communities often do not share this positive experience. Sadly, many people become estranged from their families and their heritage, as the ongoing stigmas within the culture against the "other" proves to be blinding and dangerous forces in play.
We hope that, with NOODLES AND INCENSE, we can show that family, although sometimes a source of conflict and sorrow, also remains our greatest strength and hope. We believe, no matter how much hate there is in the world, that love between families is ever present, and that it is, at its very core, unshakable. Our goal is to spark discourse over what it means to have these conflicting identities, as well as to spread the positive message that, in the end, like smoke from incense sticks, love can transcend past the virulence of ignorance and hate.
Noodles & Incense
A young Chinese-American cook, on the cusp of a cross-country move from Chicago to LA with her girlfriend, is held back by unfinished business with her family and memories of her late grandmother.
The main character, Amy, is torn between following her girlfriend to LA, or staying in Chicago with her family.