As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month comes to a close (but we will continue to celebrate after May), the Filipino American creative collective A Bunch of Savages have debuted their new short — specifically a visual poem — titled Defy.
The tribute to AANHPI heritage was created by director Jon Jon “JJ” Augustavo and cinematographer Mego Lin. Defy was made not only made to celebrate AANHPI heritage month, but also to “unlock perspectives that many have never seen or understood.” The official description of the short explores voices across the vast diaspora as they share their words on inherent value, personal worth, and owning what it means to be part of the AANHPI community.
The visual poem premiered last night at an intimate screening of the short in Los Angeles. Those in attendance included Agustavo, Lin as well as Tim Granaderos (13 Reasons Why) and producer Nina Yang Bongiovi (Fruitvale Station, Sorry To Bother You, the upcoming Anna May Wong biopic starring Gemma Chan) of Significant Productions, both of who appear in the video short. Defy also features prominent actors, creators and artists including Eugene Cordero (The Mandalorian, Easter Sunday), Yoshi Sudarso (Project Power, Bullet Train) as well as Tim Chantarangsu, Eunice Chang, P-Lo, and Maddy Park.
“We’ve been targets of violence, marginalization and xenophobia for so long while also remaining somewhat invisible in this country,” says Augustavo. “And while we can’t change what’s happened to us, we can inﬂuence how we are seen Defy we dared to show AANHPI folks as exquisite and not just worthy, but unapologetically ourselves, defying any and all expectations society has for us.”
“We started A Bunch of Savages on the foundation of like-minded individuals coming together with a passion for versatile storytelling,” says Atienza. “Defy, a visual poem, is our ﬁrst step in showcasing even intentional content created on a whim can be signiﬁcant. It’s been truly inspiring to see Jon Jon and Mego grab a camera and go. No crew, no permits, we’re down with the cause.”
In addition to increasing visibility, Defy is meant to encourage people to support AANHPI communities and organizations. A Bunch of Savages is working with Maddy Park’s Cafe Maddy Cab, an organization that sends taxi rides to the vulnerable Asian community in NYC (Asian elderly, LGBTQ, and women), which was started as a response to Asian hate crimes in 2021.
Augustavo is known for his commercial and music video directing and has helmed works for Sundance, Adidas, Jordan, Shawn Mendes, Eric Nam and Jay Park, with frequent collaborator Lin whose work can also be seen in the indie In a New York Minute.
Based in L.A. A Bunch of Savages is a creative collective that is described as “unapologetically Filipino-American with a knack for premium multifaceted storytelling in the arts.” The collective includes ﬁlmmakers, writers, and creatives with a commitment to empowering the next generation of artists. The name comes from a phrase used to describe the Filipinos in 1899 by then Gov. Theodore Roosevelt.
Read more about A Bunch of Savages here.