Despite the ubiquity of video making abilities in all our smartphoneaffixed hands, there is an inexplicable power to the pre-digital, pre-video home movie. Grainy and soft-focused, home movies provide glimpses into the past, where in everyday actions of otherswe see ourselves. Film strip snippets of a simple road trip, a family picnic, or birthday party evoke memories and prompt us to tell the stories behind that which we see. Moreover, to see Asian Americans and Asian Canadians in these films serves as a crucial document for remembering our experiences and history in North America. As filmmaker Mark Decena puts it, “if memories are food for the soul . . . home movies are the bread crumbs we drop to find our way back”.
Memories to Light is an initiative of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), where home movies from the Asian American experience are preserved and shared with the public. Highlights from this presentation include family films from San Francisco’s 1930s Japanese American community that would be lost after internment, a Chinese family’s relocation to newly integrated neighbourhoods in the 1950s, and a trip to the legendary Expo ’67 in Montreal. This one-time only presentation of Memories to Light features live narration by CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong and musical accompaniment by Toronto artist Casey Mecija (Ohbijou).—AC
Stephen Gong* is the Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). Gong has been associated with CAAM since its founding in 1980, and has served as Executive Director since 2006. His previous positions include: Deputy Director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the UC Berkeley, Program Officer in the Media Arts program at the National Endowment for the Arts, and Associate Director of the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute. Gong has been a lecturer in the Asian American Studies program at UC Berkeley, where he developed and taught a course on the history of Asian American media. He is the Board Chair of the Center for Rural Strategies and serves on the Advisory Board of the San Francisco Silent Film Society.
Casey Mecija* is a Toronto-based Filipino musician and community organizer. Her artistic practice is interdisciplinary.