For today’s youths, issues of race, religion, class and sexual orientation have made finding themselves much harder. Can’t they be left alone to be who they want to be? With an energetic dose of comedy, pathos and insight, this is precisely the message these Asian filmmakers want to deliver.
What Are You Anyways?
Jeff Chiba Stearns* | 2005 | Canada | Video | 11:00 | Toronto Premiere
Is he Latin? First Nations? No! He’s Super Nip, the superhero alter-ego from the imaginations of Jeff Stearns. Growing up in a small Canadian town, Jeff grew tired of the endless taunting since his childhood due to his Japanese-Caucasian parentage. But being of mixed race is not so bad either, as Stearns has created a warm, funny and observant animation of how he overcame his prejudices to recognise the virtues of his own background.
Jeff Chiba Stearns is a Vancouver/Kelowna based animator and illustrator. A graduate from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and University of British Columbia, he made Kip and Kyle and The Horror of Kindergarten before What Are You Anyways?
A Bad Hair Day
Meesoo Lee | 2004 | Canada | Video | 8:00
A particularly inspiring type of amateur filmmaking, Meesoo Lee’s work captures an argument between himself and his parents at a barbershop all through a tiny handheld camera. But don’t let the jerky motions and indistinct sound in this purposefully amateurish production deter you. This is a wonderful satire that uproariously captures parents-son relationship with uncanny perceptivity. After all, who hasn’t experienced similar ordeals with his or her own mother and father? It goes to show how good filmmaking only needs a minimum of tools but a lot of good, intuitive judgement.
Meesoo Lee started making short videos using a camcorder and 2 VCRs, inspired by the DIY ethos of ‘zines, “lo-fi” music and underground cinema. His work has been shown at the Western Front and Images Festival Toronto.
Cliff Kafai Mok | 2004 | Canada | Video | 6:00
A lucidly frightful examination of Catholic repression, this animated short starts off idyllically with two boys meeting and falling in love. But as religious guilt rears its head, Cliff Kafai Mok splendidly uses Christian iconography to represent the inner thoughts of the boy and his conflicts.
Cliff Kafai Mok was born in Hong Kong. He thought he was going to Milan for fashion design but ended up in Vancouver to do art. He is now back in Hong Kong where he grew up, neither Chinese, British nor Canadian.
Tadashi Nakamura | 2004 | USA | Video | 18:00 | Toronto Premiere
As a kid, Tadashi Nakamura played in a basketball team called the Venice YB. But the true significance of the group did not come to him until much later, when he found out that YB stands for Yellow Brotherhood, a self-help community formed by an Asian-American biker gang in the 1960s. Through this close-knit association, he found life-long friends and realised the group’s legacy and impact in helping to serve people within the community. With never-before-seen footage of Los Angeles’ Japanese American community, this is a fascinating documentary that records the evolution of a minority in the past four decades.
Tadashi Nakamura graduated from UCLA and is the Community Projects Coordinator of UCLA’s Centre for EthnoCommunications. His previous films included The Dream (2002), Things Need to Change: A Portrait of P-Town (2002) and March Rain (2003).
Something Other Than Other
Andrea Chia, Jerry Henry | 2005 | USA | Video | 7:00 | Canadian Premiere
Here’s a dilemma: newborn Quin Henry-Chia has at least three ethnicities mixed in his blood. Exactly where should his parents, Andrea Chia and Jerry Henry, check his name off in the “race” category? In today’s increasingly multi-ethnic world, is there even a need for such easy racial classification? A humorous and revealing documentary that also features one adorable baby.
Andrea Chia and Jerry Henry are husband and wife. They worked together on the feature- length documentary Brazilintime (2005), which Chia produced and Henry shot and edited. Jerry Henry is now shooting a video diary of Sam Mendes’ film Jarhead.
Dastaar: Defending Sikh Identity
Kevin Lee | 2005 | USA | Video | 13:00
After 9/11, one of the most maligned minorities in the US were the Sikhs. Due to their turban, the dastaar, which people mistake to be the equivalent of those worn by terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, they have faced discrimination and violence. Kevin Lee’s empathetic documentary delves into the origins of Sikhism while showing how a minority rises against all odds to triumph against ignorance and prejudice.
Kevin Lee is a filmmaker based in New York. He is a 2004 Berlin Film Festival’s Berlinale Talent Campus and IFP Project Involve honoree. Kevin is currently filming a feature documentary about Sikhism.
Arnold Moreno = π
Ryan Masaaki Yokota, Huy Chheng, Anjali Nath, Long Trinh | 2005 | USA | Video | 18:00 | Toronto Premiere
Arnold Moreno = π is a tremendously moving documentary that highlights one Salvadoran youth’s involvement with the Filipino community of Echo Park, Los Angeles. More than just a chronicle of inner city poverty, the film is also an indictment of the failed healthcare system in the US. Using archival footage and interviews with friends and family members, it raises timely questions for the millions of Americans who remain uninsured. Parallels can also be drawn between Canada’s own recent move towards privatising its healthcare.
Ryan Masaaki Yokota is a longtime community activist in Los Angeles, having served as Media Director for the Asian Pacific Legal Center. He has worked in various film projects, having co-produced and written an episode of UCLA: NEXT.
Huy Chheng is a graduate of UCLA with a Master’s in Asian American Studies. Her previous films include Sweet & Sour and Obsessed, a feature-length thriller.
Anjali Nath is also a Master’s graduate in Asian American Studies from UCLA. Through her contacts and research, she helped to develop the healthcare aspects of the film.
Long Trinh was born in Vietnam but came to the US as a refugee. An undergraduate from UC Berkeley, he is completing his Asian American Studies at UCLA.
*Director in attendance