Rooth Tang was glowing with quiet nerves and calm smiles when I met him at the Japan Film Night Party during the Toronto International Film Festival. At the time, it was just a couple of hours to go before his film would premiere at the festival, and before we left for his big debut, we chatted outside the party about his career, and what it was like coming to TIFF with his first feature-length film, Sway.
“It feels a little bit like going from zero to ninety,” Tang said, “just because it is Toronto, and it has a good reputation as one of the biggest festivals in the world.”
“I’ve watched this film probably 500 times or something, and the humorous parts, the moving parts, they all sort of get whittled down where you don’t really see the edges any more,” he said later. “So I’m just kind of curious to see what the public’s reaction in general is to the film.”
Born in Bangkok, Thailand, but raised in the United States, and calling Los Angeles home these days, Tang’s career has evolved since he took part in the Tribeca All Access program in 2007 for a screenplay he wrote called The Vitruvian Man. Later that year, his first short film, Radiance, opened at the Turks and Caicos Film Festival. In 2010, he followed Radiance with his second short film, Nurture, which premiered at the Palm Springs Shortfest Film Festival.
Those films led him to make Sway, which he also wrote, produced, and edited.
“Sway is a collection of love stories–three different love stories–shot across Bangkok, Los Angeles, and Paris,” Tang said. “And it involves these three different relationships that sort of represent the different generations of immigrants and it’s a look into how small our world is becoming as the cultures divide and technology is starting to make everything shrink. But then, at the same time, all the complications that still exist with relationships and communications that still lingers from that.”
Watch the video to see Tang talk about what influenced him to make Sway, the political environment that affected him when he went to Bangkok to start work on the film, and how his parent’s gave him insight into the story.