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THE YEAR OF THE YAO -- ADVANCE SCREENINGS
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San_Francisco - Friday, April 22, 2005


There and Back Again



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The Palace of Fine Arts was the backdrop
for The Year of the Yao screening.
A first-hand journal of the misadventures of Dream League

EPISODE I: Basketball VIPs Come Out to See Yao Movie and Support Dream League

By Bimbo Haggins, Dream League Journeyman

April 23, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Can you believe they pulled this off in three weeks?!

I mean, aside from the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts, the post-screening raffles that delighted the kids, the VIP pre-screening reception where we saw a few interesting people like Lou Campanelli, Bill Hogan, Jim Brovelli, Willie Wong, Cappy Lavin and lest we forget the wonderful documentary about Yao Ming which was the centerpiece of the night, you're telling me they pulled this off in three weeks?

Seems there were also a screening party for Dream Leaguers at the ImaginAsian Theatre in New York and a more low-key show for the Asian American community at Camera12 in San Jose, too. Must simply be the super-human dedication by the Dream League crew.

For this one in San Francisco, the benefit screening was for "...those kids you know about, the ones from the 'projects'," as Executive Director Rich Twu put it in his pre-screening speech. "Guess what, not all of them are gangsters or drug dealers.

"Some of them have talent too...not (just) NBA talent. I'm talking about skills that could be valued in today's corporate world: computer skills, organizational skills, multi-tasking skills," Twu added, describing some of Dream League's inner-city youth employment job descriptions.

The youth of Dream League's programs were certainly on hand. Tony Booker, Everett Johnson, Carlos Velez, and James Love manned the tables out in the lobby, handing out really nice booklets (made by Pequod Communications in New Jersey) or selling raffle tickets.

Dream League also got tremendous support from the "first lady", Stephanie Twu, long-time volunteer Ken Wan, and first-time volunteers Darwin Lui and Stacey Young.

Tony Booker and James Love handing out booklets and selling movie posters and raffle tickets.

The crowd of 300 or so thoroughly enjoyed the festivities. To cap off the evening, a group of enthusiastic kids from the Bay Area Asian Sports organization clamored for their number to be drawn for the Yao jersey and bobblehead raffles.

Jason Chan from the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services was also on hand to present Dream League with a Certificate of Honor, signed by Mayor Gavin Newsom himself.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Twu and his associate in New York, Brian Yang, are deeply indebted to Yang's sister Stephanie, who works at New Line Cinema, for the donation of the film on three separate occasions. According to Twu, there's yet another fourth screening planned for Las Vegas in August at Dream League's national tournament. Wow, four screenings!

"It was a few months back when Brian told me about the film and that he was involved in its online promotional efforts," explained Twu, "From there, we explored the possibility of doing a benefit screening. I drafted a formal proposal and it took awhile before we heard back from Stephanie. I was actually a little worried because I was in the midst of coordinating our Asian American National Championship, which was in Vegas but separate from the August tourney."

Talk about a full plate!

About a month before the event, Lui, Young, and Twu met up at Lui's house to map out the event. The Palace of Fine Arts only had a few dates available and on that night at Lui's house, they didn't even know if they had gotten approval for the screening yet.

The SWAT team quickly conference-called Yang, who much to their relief, confirmed a full week later that the film was on its way and a date of arrival simply needed to be picked. That gave the team only three weeks to plan.

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