Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters

Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
T.J. Jones

Former Carbondale resident and SIU alum Josh Hyde has recently traveled the film-festival circuit with his new film Postales. A graduate from SIU’s Cinema and Photography department, Hyde watched as his film, an independent production, saw its world premiere at the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland, alongside new films by heavyweights like Steven Soderbergh and Werner Herzog.

“It was great, humbling, motivational, and enjoyable all at the same time,” says Hyde of his experience at the festival. Hyde also explained that Postales needs to sustain a decent run at film festivals to prove there is an audience for the film, which would lead to wider distribution.

Postales tells the story of two very different people who meet in Cuzco, Peru. One is a young Peruvian boy who sells postcards to tourists, the other a young American girl on vacation with her family. The film follows the two strangers as they learn about one another and even find out a little more about themselves. Hyde displays a director’s statement on a press release, describing his aim in making the film as a sort of love-letter to multiculturalism.

“As a Filipino-American,” Hyde states in his statement, “my Spanish, Filipino, Chinese, and American blood are a literal fusion of the ‘colonized’ and the ‘colonizer.’ This film functions as a vehicle for me to complete a five-hundred-year circle of conquest, and to settle my own personal battle between these conflicting identities through compassion and understanding.”

Growing up in Carbondale to an American father and a Filipino mother, Hyde says he found a bit of inspiration both from mother nature and from his SIU professors.

“Carbondale was a place for me where as a kid, a growing teen, a wandering college student, you had to make your fun,” says Hyde. “This led to creativity for me and eventually into SIU. When I was at SIU there were professors with passion that helped the students explore and learn. This train of teaching led me to the next phase of finding a job and surviving in the film industry. I guess, simply, Carbondale was a great, fertile ground to begin my growth and development. Today, it's my piece of heaven. There's nothing like getting some snacks from the Co-op and running around Giant City or the Shawnee [National Forest] for an afternoon with my dog. Traveling around helped me appreciate the bubble Carbondale can be for growth and development as well as everyday living.”

After graduating from SIU in 2003, Hyde went to Cuzco, Peru, to film the documentary Despacho, which dealt with the cultural exchanges between western medicine and Peruvian shamanistic techniques. After interning at Kartemquin Films in Chicago and entering the master of fine arts program at Ohio University, Hyde returned to Cuzco in 2004 to film Chicle, a short film that formed the basis of Postales. It played at more than fifty worldwide festivals and garnered awards at the Hamptons International Film festival, Chicago International Film Festival, and the Black Maria Film and Video Festival.

While still running the circuit with Postales, Hyde is hard at work on another project. A documentary entitled Last Man Standing, it tells the story of Drew Landry, a former crawfisherman turned alt-folk musician from Louisiana. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and now the British Petroleum oil spill have provided plenty of lyrical inspiration and publicity for Landry, but many challenges as well.

Last Man Standing was and continues to be an amazing roller-coaster experience,” says Hyde. “It's not too often that you get to make a film with a couple good friends. Following Landry along with a stripped-down crew is a treat. It's a grueling documentary process to follow a story unfold over five or six years. We're still trying to film a bit more to finish the film with the perfect ending to give it hope of finding distribution. It's the age-old story of chasing the tiger by the tail as it weaves through the grass— in my case, it's the story, and [I’m] trying to follow it through to a good place of ending and meaning.”