Robot Stories
Direct Hit: Greg Pak and actor Sab Shimono.

Greg Pak’s lovely, low-key science-fiction film has more in common with the short stories of Ray Bradbury than the pyrotechnics of George Lucas. Composed as a quartet of expertly acted chapters, the film’s a smart evocation of love in the near-future, told through a widower’s grief, a mother’s anxiety, a family’s tragedy, and a robot’s confusion. (1 hr. 25 mins.; NR) — BILGE EBIRI AND LOGAN HILL

Spotlight: Greg Pak
Sitting in his cramped downtown office, NYU alum Greg Pak is wedged between a makeshift digital-editing station and a messy stack of posters for his film Robot Stories. “It’s an Asian-American science-fiction anthology picture,” says Pak, using market lingo to describe a genre-defying quartet of stories set in the cubicles, bedrooms, and hospital halls of the near future. “Those are selling hooks to me—science fiction, Asian-American—but traditional distributors just wouldn’t know what to do with that.” So after hustling the often heartbreakingly romantic film through more than 50 festivals, he’s distributing it himself, persuading small theaters like Cinema Village to take a chance on it. “Some people are more picky about pacing their premieres and all that,” says Pak, who hit South by Southwest, Slamdance, and the Hamptons, and then everything else. “We opened the floodgates. Every time we played a festival, I’d collect e-mails—now we’ve got thousands.” He’s booked the film in cities like Boston and L.A.—even Tucson. “Part of the idea is to try to get the film into places where there aren’t many Asian-Americans, to give people an alternative to all the garbage about how Asians are represented.” That ambition’s part of Pak’s cherished pet project—another twist on a familiar genre. Rio Chino, he says, will be “a straight-up Western romance about a Chinese gunslinger and a Mexican heroine.

Opens February 13 at Cinema Village, 212-924-3363
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