What is the current state of Asian American film? And what exactly is Third Cinema? How do these two worlds intertwine? Alvin Shen reviews Ghostlife of Third Cinema, in which author Glen Mimura attempts to address these questions and more.Read More
In tandem with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art visual arts exhibits The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography and Photography Now: China, Japan, Korea, Measurement in the Impermanence consists of contemporary Japanese experimental works that display an interest in the frame as a unit of time.Read More
Follow Festival Asst. Director Vicci Ho as she tweets her way through one of the most prestigious international film festivals in the world.Read More
By Vanessa Gentry
If asked to think about folk music and the political activism of the 1960s and 70s, people often come up with names like Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan. In contrast, most people probably haven’t heard of Chris Iijima, probably have never heard his lyrics about the Vietnam War and growing up Asian American in the 1950s and 60s, and probably don’t know that the legendary John Lennon once introduced a performance of his musical-activist duo group, Yellow Pearl, on national television. In the 2009 documentary, A SONG FOR OURSELVES, director/editor Tadashi Nakamura’s traces the life of Iijima through his work as an activist and traveling folk singer in the early 70s, to his teaching career and family life in New York and Hawai’i.
Iijima recounts his early years of activism: joining with others to protest the Vietnam War in groups like Students for a Democratic Society and yet ultimately feeling alone in organizations filled mainly with white students. Claiming to have had “no community growing up in New York,” he admits to “watching war movies with the next-door neighbor, secretly rooting for the other side.” His first sense of belonging, the beginning of what he and his family later called their community, came in 1970 when he joined other Asian American activists in the group Asian Americans for Action. Soon after, he and fellow activist Nobuko Miyamoto actively redefined mainstream perceptions of Asian American identity by writing and performing music with determinedly honest lyrics accompanied by a simple, accessible acoustic folk sound. Backup musician Charlie Chin, who joined Yellow Pearl a year after its conception, voiced his surprise after the first time he heard them perform: “I’d never heard Asians carrying on like this… They refuted what the mainstream was saying about us.”
The sense of connection and community that drew Iijima, Miyamoto, Chin and other Asian Americans together in the 1960s continued to sustain Iijima, even when he changed his career path and started a family. Iijima’s decision to settle down was not a relinquishing of his activism, however; it was an expansion of a viewpoint, a realization that his family life and his activism need not be mutually exclusive. It was the ultimate understanding that family and human connection need not be sacrificed for political change.
A SONG FOR OURSELVES is now available for educational, institutional, library and community group purchase or rental. Special features on the DVD include ‘Farewell Chris: Los Angeles Memorial,’ ‘Mother of the Movement: Kazu Iijima,’ Chris Iijima extended interview and additional photos and music.Read More
I’ve been thinking about the idea of suspicion lately. There is a lot to be wary about, and yet the idea of suspicion presents an infinite range of possibility – for the creation of counter-narratives and counter-cultures, for example. I would argue that there must be some slight inkling of suspicion that continues to motivate the work that CAAM does today.Read More
Taking place during the 31st annual Independent Film Week, IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Conference is the must-attend event for film and media professionals to learn how today’s creative choices and business decisions are impacting tomorrow’s artists, industry and audiences.Read More
Frameline’s latest home video, ASIAN QUEER SHORTS is now available for purchase. ASIAN QUEER SHORTS is a sexy compilation of the best of Asian shorts from Frameline featuring: Still, Last Full Show, Dissolution of Bodies, A Crimson Mark, and Yellow Fever.Read More
This ferociously funny, utterly unreliable memoir chronicles David Henry Hwang’s struggle to define racial identity in the mixed-up melting pot of contemporary America.Read More
First-time director Sarab Singh Neelam’s award-winning film OCEAN OF PEARLS opens in Bay Area theatres starting August 21st through the 27th.Read More
Marking this double occasion, The Center for Asian American Media and the Japantown Merchants Association will host a free outdoor screening of the wacky, fun film, Kamikaze Girls, on Friday, August 14, at 8:15 pm.Read More
Calling all Lolitas and Yankis! Rock your best Lolita or Yanki threads to the outdoor screening of KAMIKAZE GIRLS on Friday, August 14th for the KAMIKAZE GIRLS FASHION SHOW! Best Lolita and Yanki fashion wins a surPrize, compliments of CAAM, Japantown Merchants Association and VIZ Pictures!Read More
MATCHA, the Asian Art Museum’s exhilarating evening mixer, returns on Thursday, August 27. View an Iaido demonstration with Esaka Sensei, participate in a Dojo movement workshop, and more.Read More