About Good Boy.
Good Boy is a short film about Shinji, a lonely Japanese international student at the University of Toronto, who struggles to find love, make connections, and find a community to belong in.
What is Good Boy about?
To sum it up alphabetically...
Good Boy is about Asian Canadians, Boys, Covid-19, Disappointment, Eaton Centre, Friendship, Girls, Hallways, Insecurities, Japan, Kisses (First Ones), Loving Yourself, Masculinity, Nostalgia, Open Book Exams, Pornography, Quiet Moments, Robarts Library, Spadina, Toronto, Unrequited Love, Vegetable Stir Fry, Winter, XXX, Youthfulness, and Zits.
Subject: [Re: About Good Boy]
I hope you’re doing well. My name is Kennedy Kao, and I'm directing a short film named Good Boy. I have some words about Good Boy I want to share.
I’ve passed by so many people on UofT campus. I remember trekking through the snow, trying to get to class with my best friend, who I was taking classes with just so I could have the company. I remember sipping on noodle soup at Magic Noodle. I heard stories of my best friend pulling all-nighters at Robarts, which I couldn’t do cause I had to commute to Vaughan. I was this close to trying the Aphrodite Project.
I think there’s a common understanding that it’s hard to meet people at UofT. It’s a commuter school, so people are constantly coming and going, never really getting settled in. The campus is massive, so it can feel easy to get lost in the shuffle. Plus everyone’s dealing with a ton of schoolwork, not to mention the anxiety of getting the right grade, applying to the right program, taking the right course, etc. It seems impossible to truly meet people at UofT, unless of course you stay on res and are somewhat forced to do so.
Good Boy is a short film about Shinji, an international student from Japan, studying at the University of Toronto. Shinji doesn’t live on res, he lives in a shared housing situation nearby campus. Shinji has a couple of friends but mainly stays in his room watching manga. He struggles to get through his classes and wonders if he should switch majors. He has a crush on his friend, Akiko, but she has a boyfriend. He likes his classmate, Mariah, but doesn’t know how to make the first move. He daydreams of moving back to Japan, of hanging out with his friends who’ve seemed to move on with their lives. Shinji also sleeps a lot.
Writer Jay Caspian Kang has said that Asian Americans are the "loneliest Americans." I think there is definitely some truth to what Kang is saying, that through a vague sense of Asian-American identity, racial triangulation, the model minority myth, intergenerational conflict, and a lack of national discourse surrounding Asian-American issues, it can feel lonely to be Asian in America. This sentiment overlaps with being Asian-Canadian since we take a lot from the U.S. People like Shinji, an international student studying abroad, are included in this communal loneliness, although with the added struggle of assimilating to an entirely different continent.
My films tend to focus on loneliness in the North-American Asian diaspora. In Good Boy, we see Shinji struggling to adapt to “Western” sensibilities. The contrast between living in Japan and living in Canada is apparent through Shinji’s passivity. The masculinity ideals imposed both in Japan and North America are also seen as Shinji, to plainly put it, cannot find love. He wonders how to be more “masculine” and whether that’s something he should even try doing.
I have to make it known that my time at UofT was a beautiful one. Good Boy is a beautiful film: it is about a time when you are learning how to be lost in the shuffle. It is about a time when you dream about re-inventing yourself, and instead growth happens. It is about a time when you want things to be over, to change, but at the same time cannot deal with the speed that life chooses to run at.
If you would like to support Good Boy, please head over to our GoFundMe page. For more information about my work, you can head over to kennkao.com. If you want to hear more about the film from me, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the production at email@example.com.
Thank you, be well, and if you feel like Shinji, goddamn you are beautiful.
Kennedy (Director of Good Boy)