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Filmmaker Sven Kamm
Ji Long Kiang practices on set.
Kamm in recovery after the heart surgery that temporarily stopped production.
Kamm with Xiou Jun Wang, a Shaolin warrior in Kamm's movie.
The Shaolin must go on
After 20 years of piling up editing and directing awards in Los Angeles, Sven Kamm has decided to return to his native San Francisco this month to debut his first feature film.
Nancy Krieger | Photo: Sven Kamm | February 6, 2012
Of course, he wants to celebrate with family and friends, but perhaps he’s also trying to get some hometown luck on his side—in more ways than one.
It all began in 2008 when Kamm set out to make a film about L.A.’s kung fu–fighting monks, who live in the city’s fading Chinatown. After Bruce Lee’s mysterious death, the myth arose that anyone who reveals the secrets of kung fu will be cursed. And indeed, the producer lost his money in the stock market, Kamm nearly died of an aortic aneurysm, and the crew quit. Rather than concede defeat, though, Kamm turned his failure into Curse of the Shaolin, a comic documentary that tells the saga of his efforts to complete the film after receiving a mechanical heart valve. Along the way, we learn about the monks–cum–kung fu masters in the Shaolin temple (curse be damned!) and what happens when holiness bumps up against the powers of Hollywood.
Kamm’s Curse won the Sierra Nevada Award at the Mountain Film Festival in Mammoth and opens at the Roxie on February 29 (not to worry: Leap year’s
only unlucky in Greece and Scotland). Kamm is hoping that his luck will hold—or that he’ll at least be near family should the curse strike again. Our advice: Attend, but steer clear of the director. Feb. 29, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., S.F., curseoftheshaolin.com