From Cocktails For A Cause

2012 Cocktails for a Cause Sets Stage for Entertainers and Community to Unite

ATG Team and Entertainers

DALLAS, TX – Dallas-based nonprofit ATG Against The Grain Productions hosted the return of their charity event Cocktails for a Cause (CFAC) on Wednesday, May 30th at LaGrange in Deep Ellum. Guests enjoyed Asian tapas, drinks, live entertainment, got a chance to win raffle prizes and learn more about ATG’s cause. The fundraiser packed the venue and raised several thousand dollars for the 501(c)(3) organization’s supported orphanages in Asia, outreach programs and scholarship fund.  Guest emcee and local Dallas man about town Sam Liu kept the evening moving along with his unique, golden voice, with energetic performances by up-and-coming Asian American artists Xwansongs (from Houston), hip-hop performer Twisted Optiks and indie pop band Duette.  San Francisco comedian Mark “Zhangster” Zhang stole the stage at the end of the evening with his signature raucous humor.

ATG Founder/President Tammy Nguyen Lee is grateful for the outpouring of community support. “It takes a lot of time, effort and sacrifice from our ATG team of volunteers to put on events like this. We work to promote good, quality entertainment and bring the community together to raise money for a worthy cause. We are so thankful to all the people who continue to come out and support us and the artists. It makes all the effort worthwhile to know that people also appreciate what we do to make a difference.”

Comedian Mark "Zhangster" Zhang

Mark “Zhangster” said, ” The night was filled with tremendous fun energy! It’s a great honor to support ATG, because as artists, we spend so much time working on our craft that sometimes we forget in life there is nothing more important than being loved.”

Xwansongs

Xuan Nguyen of Xwansongs is a veteran performer to the ATG audience. Said Nguyen, “It was wonderful to see people pull together and work to help others in need. The evening was filled with infectious laughter and an overwhelming sense of unity from all of the artists and ATG staff members who rallied together to give back to the community in our own unique ways. We are humbled and blessed to be a part of Cocktails for a Cause.”

 

Twisted Optiks

 

Hip-hop performer Twisted Optiks (aka Ronnie Chea) entertained the audience with his unique musical flavor and improvisational freestyle. Said Chea, “Cocktails for a Cause was certainly an inspiring evening. I had the opportunity to work with various artists and people with hearts to bring both entertainment and awareness to the public. It was an honor to be a part of honor ATG event, where I am able to showcase my talents to bring hope and help others in need.”

Tex Sirisawat, front man of Duette, said, “We think the night went great. It is important to have an opportunity to use art not only as an expression of self, but also as a vehicle for unity and to help those in need. If we continue, and they continue, the cycle will never end.”

Tex Sirisawat of Duette
Emcee Sam Liu

Entrepreneur Sam Liu, who has emceed all three of ATG’s Cocktails for a Cause events, added, ‘It was very exciting to see Asian American talent showcased in Deep Ellum. What an amazing night for an excellent cause!”

All photos of the evening are courtesy of David Loi Photography and can be viewed at the ATG Flickr site.

To read about ATG’s upcoming events, please visit – http://www.againstthegrainproductions.com/events

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American students pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.

 

ENTERTAINERS UNITE AT 2012 COCKTAILS FOR A CAUSE: Asian Musical and Comedy Talent Come Together for Charity

DALLAS, TX – Dallas-based nonprofit ATG Against The Grain Productions will host their 2012 Cocktails for a Cause, a charity event with the purpose to raise funds for international orphanages, ATG’s community outreach programs and the ATG Artistic Scholarship fund. The event takes place from 6:30 pm – 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30th at LaGrange in Deep Ellum, located at 2704 Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.

The event  is headlined by San Francisco-based comedian Zhangster (Mark Zhang) and is preceded by performances by emerging Asian American musical artists, including Xwansongs from Houston and local Dallas acts Twisted Optiks and Duette.

The organization has become known for their successful Fashion for a Passion event, a showcase of emerging Asian American designers, musicians and artists. ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee explained the history behind this event. “Cocktails for a Cause was the first event our organization ever hosted. Although similar to FFAP in many ways, ‘Cocktails’ is an intimate, more casual event that helps introduce us and our mission to the community in a fun way that entertains and enlightens our audience. This year, we’re adding a comedian to the mix, and who knows what will happen. We’re fortunate to bring back CFAC to an already hefty programming slate, and it’s a great segue and kick-off for Fashion for a Passion.” This year’s FFAP takes place on October 13th at the Dallas Contemporary.

Comedian Zhangster will headline CFAC

Mark Zhang, also known as Zhangster, is praised as one of the most unique new Asian American comedic voices. His high energy comedy hits hard on social issues with clever twists. His improv is unpredictable, and his audiences are always surprised by his edgy wit. “People always say it must be great to make people laugh on stage, but to me it’s nothing compared to the people that goes out of their way to help the unfortunate,” Zhangster said. “This event to me is like a delicious hamburger…It takes many parts to make it work, and when it’s all over with, I can say I was the lettuce for that amazing burger.” Zhangster has been ripping through the comedy scene from West Coast to East Coast from Northwest to Southeast.  Zhangster’s powerful stage presence has been electrifying top comedy clubs around the country and even internationally like England, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Xwansongs

Xwansongs, a trio that includes Xuan Nguyen, Stephen ‘Nez’ Nesbit and Chris Cuchapin, is known to have a steady stream of songs that were brought to life encompassing several different musical styles and moods. Nguyen said, “I am honored to be involved in Cocktails for a Cause, because it is always humbling to work with others who are so passionate about putting the needs of others before their own. I hope to pay it forward because in my life I was fortunate enough to have good people step forward in my time of need and I’d like to do the same for others.” Currently, they are performing with their close friend and fellow musician, Duane Roger Perez, as a guest guitarist for live shows, gracing stages from Houston to Dallas to Louisiana.

Duette

Duette is an indie-pop band from Dallas, fronted by Tex Sirisawat and Angela Yi. The group aims to capture hearts, while also proving that you can make it out of heartbreak alive. “It means a lot to us as artists/musicians [to be a part of CFAC], because it solidifies the hard work we put in is creating something unique and positive that ATG thinks should be presented and represented by other Asian Americans,” Sirisawat said. “We hope to reach a new audience and be able to help ATG raise money, create awareness and find solutions.” The band is influenced by everything from ’50s music, ’90s Indie-Rock to ’80s New Wave and Synth Pop, with a little dash of Motown thrown in.

Twisted Optiks

Twisted Optiks, also known as Ronnie Chea, is is a hip-hop artist who also works as an Audio Instructor/ Mentor for students at Styles of Music Productions in Oak Cliff. He explains that the program plays a big part in mentoring the youth to find who they are and to overcome the negative aspects of life. “It is an honor to take part in these events. I feel that there needs to be a greater awareness of the talented and hardworking individuals of the Asian background. Many go unappreciated and should be allowed to display their gifts that may potentially bless someone else to rise and share their unique abilities,” Chea said. He is also an audio engineer, producer, songwriter and lyricist  who wants to make an impact in society with music that speaks to the mind, heart and soul with genuine sincerity. “I only hope that through the music I share, someone may receive the message and find hope and encouragement from it. I speak on my own experiences in life through my music and do my best to bring it in the most professional quality as possible. In turn, I hope that it inspires and uplifts others to let their voice be heard and their skills be shown.”

Admission to Cocktails for a Cause is $25 in advance, includes a complimentary cocktail, Asian tapas, drink specials and entertainment and can be purchased at www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com/events starting Wednesday, May 2nd. Admission at the door is $30 as available.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian-American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. Their premiere documentary feature, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, has received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.

 

 

Last Chance to Bid for a Cause

If you missed out on bidding for a piece of work at Cocktails For A Cause, here’s an opportunity for you to do so! There are a few “Hope” themed pieces that are still up for auction. You still have a chance to own a beautiful piece of work.

Photo by David Ayala
Photo by David Ayala
Photo by Alex Lim
Photo by Alex Lim
Photo by Budi Tjoenawan
Photo by Budi Tjoenawan

All proceeds go to benefit ATG and the orphanages we help overseas.

Send us your best bid to info@againstthegrainproductions.com by Saturday, Oct 10th to own one of these three photos.  We’ll email winners before the month is over! Good luck, and happy bidding!

OPERATION BABYLIFT: THE LOST CHILDREN OF VIETNAM Debuts to Packed House at Dallas FilmAsia Fest

DALLAS, TX – Locally based non-profit ATG Against the Grain Productions debuted Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam in front of a standing room only crowd at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Horchow Auditorium during the inaugural filmAsiafest on Friday, September 25th.  The feature documentary, described as “amazing…compelling and hard hitting” by Bosavik.com, details the 1975 United States airlift of over 2,500 Vietnamese orphans during the tumultuous time leading up to the Fall of Saigon.

The documentary’s Producer/Director Tammy Nguyen Lee said: It was such an amazing experience to share this film in my hometown with friends and loved ones who have supported and stood by me for so many years. I’m grateful to filmAsia for the opportunity to let others know about this truly universal story as well. This is a night I’ll never forget.

In addition to Ms. Lee, many cast and crew members were also in attendance, including George Lee (Executive Producer), Jared Rehberg (Associate Producer, adoptee), Jessica Schoenbaechler (Associate Producer),  Jim Zimmerly (crash survivor), Mary Nelle Gage (Friends For All Children volunteer), Chris Tonick (editor) and Seth Pascale (editor).

Operation Babylift screened as part of filmAsia, a new film initiative created by the Trammell Crow Collection of Asian Art.  Chiho Mori, Director of filmAsia said, “FilmAsiafest was thrilled to showcase Dallas premier of Tammy’s directorial debut film. Crow Collection’s filmAsia program is in part about supporting local talent like Tammy. We know that this is just the beginning for Tammy. We are confident that she will continue to create great films.”

Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam tells the significant yet untold story of the $2 million dollar US initiative that airlifted over 2,500 Vietnamese orphans out of a war-torn country to protect them from the impending threat of the Communist regime.  These adoptees grew up facing unique challenges in America, including prejudice overshadowed by a controversial war and cultural identity crisis.  Featuring compelling and insightful interviews of the volunteers, parents, and organizations directly involved, the movie takes a contemporary look at Babylift and its relevance to international adoption today.  The feature documentary was a passionate team effort that took over 4 years to produce and is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. For more information, please visit www.TheBabylift.com

ATG Against the Grain Productions is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization dedicated to promoting Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects, while also raising funds for international orphanages.  For more information please visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com.

Dallas premiere of "Operation Babylift"
Dallas premiere of "Operation Babylift"

To view pictures from the screening and Cocktails for a Cause, click here.

Only Two More Weeks!

One of the most anticipated events the ATG team has coming up is in exactly TWO WEEKS! The Dallas premiere of “Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam” and our 2nd Annual Cocktails for a Cause charity reception are all happening on the same evening of Friday, September 25th!

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Don’t miss the film that won the Audience Choice Award at this year’s Vietnamese International Film Festival and what Bolksavik.com calls “an amazing documentary…hard-hitting and compelling.”
Hosted by filmAsiafest &
presented by The Dallas Film Society
7:00 pm
Friday, September 25th
Dallas Museum of Art – Horchow Auditorium
1717 N. Harwood St.
Dallas, TX 75201
A Q&A with filmmaker Tammy Nguyen Lee will follow, with several of the cast/crew in attendance.
Tickets are $7 for members/students and $10 for non-members. Hurry and get your tickets here or call (214) 979-6438.

Don’t miss the film that won the Audience Choice Award at this year’s Vietnamese International Film Festival and what Bolksavik.com calls “an amazing documentary…hard-hitting and compelling.”

Hosted by filmAsiafest and presented by The Dallas Film Society

7:00 pm

Friday, September 25th

Dallas Museum of Art – Horchow Auditorium

1717 N. Harwood St.

Dallas, TX 75201

A Q&A with filmmaker Tammy Nguyen Lee will follow, with several of the cast/crew in attendance.

Tickets are $7 for members/students and $10 for non-members. Hurry and get your tickets here or call (214) 979-6438.

Continue the festivities from 9:30-11:30 pm just across the highway at the Dallas Center for Architecture for the 2nd annual Cocktails for a Cause, a charity fundraiser benefiting ATG’s community outreach, education initiatives and needy orphanages in Vietnam.

Your admission includes tasty sips and sweets, musical entertainment by Jared Rehberg, Mina Chang and DJ Prada G, plus a one-night-only exhibit and auction of work by up-and-coming Asian American photographers.  For all you art collectors, this is your chance to bring home a gorgeous, original piece of art and support the following artists:

* David Ayala
* Andrew Chan
* Van Ditthavong
* Leon Le
* Alex Lim
* David Loi & Chi Tran
* Tem Juarez
* Budi Tjoenawan
* Jin-Ya Huang
* Susan Sponsler

As a bonus, all paid guests will receive a chance to win the following fantastic  door prizes:

* Shopping party with hors d’oeuvres and wine (valued at $250) from The Blues Jean Bar  and $50 gift cards for 10 guests

* $50 gift certificate to Dallas Affaires Bakery

* Gift cards and dresses from Freedom Parc

* Consultation with HGTV Design Star Finalist Jany Lee

* One-hour session from Opulens Photography

* $300 in gift certificates from Saigon Block restaurant

* Earrings from West 10 Jewelry


Entrance is $10 for screening guests, (half off discount), $20 regular (through midnight September 24th) and $25 at the door (as available, cash/check accepted only). Make sure to also remember to buy your tickets for Cocktails here before space runs out!

See you all there!

Going Against the Grain: Van Ditthavong

ATG speaks with Van Ditthavong, an award-winning editorial and commercial photographer, about how he got his start in photography and how it has changed his views of the world. A political refugee born in Vientiane, Laos, Van was separated from his parents for years before being reunited with them in the U.S. when he was four. He grew up outside of Washington, D.C., lived most of his adult life in Boston and New York, studying photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the International Center of Photography in New York City.

scaled_e1252638031van-3

Full Name: Van Ditthavong

Current Residence: Dallas, TX

What inspired you to go into photography?

I started late in photography. I bought my first camera when I was 25 years-old and my pictures looked horrible. I became obsessed about trying to improve. I just think photography is a good medium to express ideas and learn about people.

What has been some of the biggest challenges you have faced?

Like any discipline, I think the toughest part is trying to find your voice or vision. In order to do that you really have to find out what type of photography you like to do (portraits, travel, food, products..) and then make lots of mistakes. Eventually, the way you see the world comes out of your photographs.
What has been your favorite part about photography?

I like all parts of photography. Being a professional photographer, I like the process, meeting clients and their expectations, meeting interesting people and taking their portraits, playing with light and always trying to get better and experimenting.

What is the most important lesson/advice you would give?

Find something you are passionate about and then use a medium (photography, writing, film, painting, etc…) to explore that something.

Check out Van and other featured photographers at Cocktails for a Cause!

OPERATION BABYLIFT Dallas Premiere Tickets on Sale Now!

Tickets for the Dallas Premiere of Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam at the inaugural filmAsiafest can now be purchased online at the Crow Collection of Asian Art website!

The film will screen at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 25th at the Dallas Museum Art. Stay after for the Q&A with filmmaker Tammy Nguyen Lee and adoptee Jared Rehberg.

But don’t forget about Cocktails for a Cause!

Cocktails 09 Flier

After the screening, head over to the Dallas Center for Architecture (just across the highway) for Cocktails for a Cause charity event, benefiting ATG Against The Grain Productions’ charity outreach initiatives and orphanages in Vietnam. Join us for tasty sips, yummy desserts, musical entertainment by Jared Rehberg and Mina Chang, DJ stylings by DJ Prada G and chances to win awesome raffle prizes. The event features a special one-night-only exhibit of work for auction by Asian American photographers from all over the U.S, including:

Advance reservations are required – $10 (screening guests), $20 (Regular) and $25 (At the door). Space is limited. Go now to the ATG website to donate and reserve your place!