With much fanfare, the 2014 LA Asian Pacific Film Festival is over! For the past 30 years, VC has hosted the festival, screening hundreds of documentary, narrative and experimental features and shorts featuring Asian Pacific Americans and/or by Asian Pacific American filmmakers to thousands of attendees. A number of films, both narrative and documentary, may be of interest to archives and history lovers. Click on the titles for full synopses:
SIX WEDDINGS AND A DRESS
FRED HO’S LAST YEAR
THE ROAD TO FAME
TO BE TAKEI
HULA: MERRIE MONARCH’S GOLDEN CELEBRATION
AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE STORY OF GRACE LEE BOGGS
HAENYEO: WOMEN OF THE SEA
STORIES FROM TOHOKU
TO SIT WITH HER
TYRUS WONG: BRUSHSTROKES IN HOLLYWOOD
SEWING SEEDS OF LIFE…AND HOPE
DELANO MANONGS: FORGOTTEN HEROES OF THE UNITED FARM WORKERS MOVEMENT
iting and wide smile, she takes us the audience i
iting and wide smile, she takes us the audience i
Although the festival is over, visitors can view films from our festival in our library, which is open to the public. Just set up an appointment!
It’s that time of year again when VC hunkers down into the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival planning madness! This year is special as it’s our 30th anniversary. That’s right, a whole thirty years of featuring films about and by Asian Americans! From shorts to documentaries and narrative features, we’ve screened to many audiences. For this year’s special anniversary, we’ve compiled a timeline and images from the past thirty years, featuring events, guests, and even our catalog covers. Please check it out.
If you’re in town, please consider attending the festival! The festival’s gala night opens with “To Be Takei,” a documentary about George Takei that features archival footage from VC’s Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Hearings Collection, where Takei testified about his internment experiences during World War II. We’re excited to share this film with our audiences, and hope to see you there!
George Takei at the Commission for Wartime Relocation Hearings in Los Angeles
Hi! I’m Marie Barrera and I’ve been interning at VC for a month. I’m an alumna of Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and the University of Edinburgh, where I majored in European Studies and Art History respectively. I miss school so much (and have a clearer idea of what I want to do with my life) that I’m thinking of returning to get my MLIS (Library and Information Science).
My interest in archives developed from working in archives and special collections throughout my undergraduate years. This is my first time dealing with audio materials — the majority of objects that I have handled are paper so yay, something different! Currently, I am working on the cassette tape holdings: I listen to them and take notes, or metadata, on their content. Since many of the tapes aren’t labeled and there isn’t any other data about them, I never know what gem of information I’ll hear next.
As a Filipino-American, it is especially exciting to find tapes about Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. One of my favorite finds so far is a seven-part radio drama about Filipino farmworkers in central California. The voice acting might be cheesy, but the subject matter is enlightening. The series captures the struggles of Filipino immigrants during the Great Depression in California, including discrimination and poor working conditions. It also demonstrates their determination and spirit through the establishment of a printing press and organization of a strike. I remember learning about this time period in my middle and high school U.S. history classes but I don’t remember Asian Pacific immigrants being mentioned. I wonder what else is left out of textbooks. Processing this collection of cassette tapes has made me realize how clueless I am about the community I come from, as well as why archives such as VC’s are crucial to understanding the contributions and history of Asian Pacific Americans.
By Eddie Wong, Founder and Archives Advisory Board Member
In the early days of Visual Communications, we went out to community events and simply shot what was interesting to us. On a cool January evening in 1973, I went to the LA Chinese New Year’s Parade and was mesmerized by the Chinese Drum and Bugle Corps aka the LA Chinese Imperial Dragons. I wondered why would parents want their children to be in something as regimented and militaristic such as a marching band. This led me to meet the parents and teens in the group, who were very receptive to the idea of having a VC film crew document them in 1974.
What started out as a cine-verite look at a Chinese American marching band became a film essay on the Chinese American middle class. The title of the documentary “Chinatown Two-Step” alludes to the movement of generation of poor Chinatown kids who grew up during the Depression to become more economically secure, thoroughly Americanized folk. Becoming middle class professionals meant moving out of Chinatown and to suburbia where there were opportunities for their kids to socialize with other Chinese Americans. Thus, for the children, drum corps provided a pre-mating dance of sorts.
A year ago, Ryan Wong, a curator from New York, visited Visual Communications to look at our holdings– print and films– documenting the Asian American movement. This period in the late 60s and 70s saw Asian Americans come together to study their histories, question the government’s authority and decisions– particularly with Japanese American internment during World War II and the Vietnam War– and demand education in the creation implementation of ethnic studies departments at universities. It saw the creation of a pan-Asian identity. Visual Communications came out of this period, creating films that portrayed Asian Americans not as stereotypes, but as complex individuals.
Ryan curated an exhibit called “Serve the People: The Asian American Movement in New York” at the Interference Archive, a New York-based, completely volunteer-run archives that collects materials documenting social movements (amazing name, too!). We were so excited to be part of this exhibit and co-sponsored one of the events– the Film Night, which showcased four VC films– Wong Sinsaang (1971) by Eddie Wong, Manzanar (1970) by Robert Nakamura …I Told You So (1973) by Alan Kondo, and Cruisin’ J-town (1974) by Duane Kubo.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to New York (Polar Vortex, anyone?) but we have all the films here on site if you want to watch them. Make an appointment and stop by!