Archive for October, 2010

The American In Me: DC APA Film Festival and the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial

Reflecting, Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, 2010

Just got back from a weekend at the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival in Washington DC. This is the second time I’ve attended the festival (the first time being in 2007 when the fest screened Snapshot: Six Months of the Korean American Male) and, as with my last visit, it was totally great. Although I had to take the red-eye from SFO and could only attend one day, I saw all three of Saturday’s programs, which pretty much satisfied my Asian American film jones.

Grace & food, DCAPA Film Festival closing night party, 2010

The DCAPA staff are an especially fun and friendly bunch and they always put on a great festival with lots of bang for your buck, with this year being no exception. Staff member Grace even cooked up a bunch of delicious snacks for the closing night reception, including ginger oatmeal cookies, edamame hummous, and K-food mini-tostadas with kimchee salsa.

The closing night film, The Things We Carry, was a gritty and heartfelt little drama about a pair of Korean American sisters coping with their fucked-up crackhead mom. The movie did an especially good job of capturing the rundown, seedy side of LA, with lonely and forlorn drug addicts puking their guts out in mini-mall parking lots. Though the film occassionally flirted with melodrama, the hard-ass lead performance by Alyssa Lobit kept the film from veering into pathos. Lobit also wrote the semi-autobiographical screenplay and the film was produced by her sister Athena and executive-produced by their dad, so it was a family affair all the way.

Tat Marina, before and after, Finding Face, 2009

My short film, The Oak Park Story, screened with Finding Face, an intense agit-prop documentary feature about acid burn attacks on women in Cambodia. Though it wandered a bit in its focus, it still managed to convey a gripping urgency about these crimes, which are growing in number since the high-profile attack on 17-year-old karaoke starlet Tat Marina in 1999. Marina and her family are the focus of the film as both she and her brother, the swoonfully intense Tat Sequndo, attempt to bring the perpetrators (including Cambodia’s Undersecretary of State Svay Sitha) to justice.

Image capturing, Lincoln Memorial, 2010

The day after the festival closed I got to play tourist in DC, visiting the National Gallery to see the amazing Chester Dale collection, which included a huge number of paintings by brand-name Impressionists such as Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Cassat, and Monet. I also hiked over to see the Washington Monument in all of its erect glory, then trekked to the far end of the reflecting pool to cool my heels on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Americans of all shapes and colors snapped photos and posed with Honest Abe.

I ended up at Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, which I’d never seen in person before. The Memorial is arguably the most famous artwork by an Asian American in this country so it’s been on my list of places to visit. Arriving there near the end of a balmy early autumn day, I was impressed by the simple, poignant power and beauty of the piece. Several people there were clearly there to find the names of lost loved ones, somberly pausing in front of the polished black granite. Seeing it in person, I was struck not only by how long and tall the memorial is, but by how small names are rendered and how very many of them there are. It’s amazing exactly how much space more than 58,000 names can take up, even when engraved in pretty small text. It’s a testament to the brilliance of Lin’s design that the piece conveys at once the enormity of the loss of life as well as each individual behind that monstrous sacrifice.

Vets, Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, 2010

It’s significant to remember that back in the early 80s when her design was first selected, Lin was vilified by conservatives as an inappropriate choice for the memorial due to her Chinese background (Ross Perot called her an “egg roll”), since, of course, that was pretty close to being a gook, right? Doubters also wanted to install a more traditionally representative memorial instead of Lin’s minimalist design and because of that sentiment, Frederick Hart’s abysmally banal bronze statue of three noble soldiers mars the entrance to the memorial. But despite the naysayers, Lin put up an epic fight to preserve the integrity of her original design and, nearly 30 years down the line, Lin is a renowned artist, the memorial is a landmark, and the haters have been proven dead wrong. Glad I was able to finally see the results of Lin’s persistant vision, and glad it still resonates today.

Bonus beats: The Avengers, legendary San Francisco punk band, performs “The American In Me,” Winterland, 1978

October 19, 2010 at 6:09 am 9 comments


supported by

Blog Stats

  • 447,394 hits

Archives

tweetorama

  • RT @joncoopertweets: Who else managed to live their entire lives without needing to own an assault rifle? ✋ 6 hours ago
  • RT @MarieMyungOkLee: maybe we should call is **mass murder** instead of mass shooting? sounds like the gun is guilty not the person-- and… 6 hours ago
  • RT @erinhahn_author: What they don’t tell you is teachers are told in training that they have to lock out any of their students who are out… 14 hours ago
  • RT @BNONews: First victims identified in Texas school shooting: - Xavier Lopez, 10 - Nevaeh Bravo - Irma Garcia, teacher - Eva Mireles, te… 15 hours ago
  • RT @hyunsuinseoul: I’m South Korean and have a few friends from Europe and literally don’t know a single working class individual from a de… 15 hours ago
  • RT @magicbeans: I just watched an elderly couple watch the video of Steve Kerr and the woman yelled at the end “who’s our senator?!” She’s… 15 hours ago
  • RT @Celeste_pewter: I have this conversation with some of you a lot, but tonight's the night I'm really asking: Consider running for offi… 15 hours ago
  • RT @AliceAvizandum: Today’s school shooter bought his rifles from this company 16 hours ago
  • RT @espn_macmahon: Steve Kerr: “When are we going to do something? I’m so tired of coming up here offering condolences to the devastated fa… 19 hours ago
  • RT @heatherscope: Sen. Murphy: “Spare me the bullshit about mental illness. “We don't have any more mental illness than any other country… 19 hours ago
  • RT @WajahatAli: Steve Kerr, coach of the Warriors. I need this fire from Democratic leaders. 19 hours ago
  • RT @kylegriffin1: NBC News projects: Stacey Abrams wins the Georgia governor's Democratic primary race. @NBCNews 19 hours ago
  • RT @NotoriousOHM: A furious, emotional and fed up Steve Kerr pleaded with senators to do something about the mass shootings. https://t.co/f… 20 hours ago
  • RT @MSNBC: "Enough is enough," VP Harris says, discussing the Texas school shooting that killed 14 children and 1 teacher. Harris added, "a… 20 hours ago
  • This is the only time I'm RTing anything about Heard/Depp. twitter.com/NBedera/status… 20 hours ago