'Bad Axe' film puts thumb on America's tension points

Adam Graham, The Detroit News on

Published in Entertainment News

Nicole Franzel, a family friend from neighboring Ubly who was a contributor to the film's online fundraising campaign, is one of the backers who was shown the movie in May.

"The film is so raw. It's so real. It's unbelievably emotional. I'm laughing with them, I'm crying with them, I'm rooting for them," says Franzel, a former winner of the CBS reality show "Big Brother."

Franzel has even been known to pick up a shift or two at Rachel's, and she says the Siev family has navigated the experience with grace. "The Siev family has handled the attention so well, I don't think they could have handled it any better," she says. "They're such a genuine, nice, loving, caring family. Once you watch the film, you'll know that 100%."

Importance of representation

Another audience member who reacted positively to the film is Steven Yeun, the Troy-raised Oscar nominee who was shown an early version of the film. Siev spoke to Yeun for about an hour afterward, which Siev says helped him put a lot of his own feelings about the film and his experience into perspective.

Daniel Dae Kim (TV's "Lost") is also an executive producer on the movie, and Siev says having these high-profile members of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders community on board with the project is important to him and others who share a similar background.

"These are two members from the AAPI community who have done beautiful work who I feel have paved the way for a film like 'Bad Axe' to be on the platform it is now," he says. "It feels so amazing when we get to show it to those communities and the response is, 'thank you, I feel seen, I feel represented, I see myself in your family.' And that's so important when it comes to representation, and I hope it helps other AAPI filmmakers to tell their personal stories."

Siev's sister, Jaclyn, says "Bad Axe" and everything it entailed ultimately brought her family closer together.

"It really has been a surreal experience," says Jaclyn, who splits her time between working at Rachel's and working her corporate job in Ann Arbor. "It's been crazy, but I am forever grateful that I've gotten to do this with the people I love most in life. I think that we're very, very blessed and very grateful."

Siev talks a lot in the movie about "Bad Axe" being a love letter to his hometown, and that's how he ultimately views it.


"It took a familial effort from everyone — my producers, my editors and my family — to get the film to the point where it was coming off as a love letter: yes to Bad Axe, but moreso to my family," he says.

"I hope at the end of the day the film provides a sense of hope. Whether that's in regards to family or our country or whatever it is, I hope it provides a sense of hope for the future."



No MPAA rating (language)

Running time: 1:41

How to watch: Now in theaters


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