By Jun Okada
The phrases “Asian American film” may perhaps evoke a painfully earnest, reasonably-priced documentary or relations drama, destined to be noticeable merely in small movie fairs or on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). In her groundbreaking learn of the prior fifty years of Asian American movie and video, Jun Okada demonstrates that even though this stereotype isn't totally unfounded, a remarkably diversified variety of Asian American filmmaking has emerged. but Okada additionally unearths how the legacy of institutional investment and the “PBS style” unites those filmmakers, whether or not they are operating inside that method or environment themselves towards its conventions.
Making Asian American movie and Video explores how the style has served as a flashpoint for debates approximately what constitutes Asian American id. Tracing a historical past of the way Asian American movie was once before everything conceived as a kind of public-interest media, a part of a broader attempt to provide voice to underrepresented American minorities, Okada exhibits why this likely well-intentioned venture encouraged deeply ambivalent responses. moreover, she considers a couple of Asian American filmmakers who've opted out of manufacturing state-funded motion pictures, from Wayne Wang to Gregg Araki to Justin Lin.
Okada supplies us a special behind-the-scenes examine some of the associations that experience bankrolled and dispensed Asian American movies, revealing the dynamic interaction among advertisement and state-run media. greater than only a background of Asian americans in movie, Making Asian American movie and Video is an insightful meditation on either the achievements and the restrictions of institutionalized multiculturalism.
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Extra resources for Making Asian American Film and Video: History, Institutions, Movements (Asian American Studies Today)
Wataridori: Birds of Passage (1974) documents aging Japanese American immigrant laborers who came to the West Coast of the United States to make better lives. The film’s subjects are issei, or first-generation immigrants, who worked their entire lives in agriculture as sharecroppers and farmers or as commercial fishermen. One way in which Wataridori reflects a revision of Manzanar is in its rearrangement of the iconic status of the internment within the film. In Manzanar, the presence of the internment, the idea of imprisonment, of loss, permeates the entire film and fills every frame, while paradoxically this loss is unable to be fully represented.
As Manzanar anchors its representation of the internment through the personal reflection of the filmmaker, Wataridori narrates the Japanese American experience as collective. Through its implicit focus on the history of labor, Wataridori reflects more of a literally socialist project on the part of VC, but it also reproduces the focus on collectivity and the representation of communities as vital to the project of Asian American communal film production. For example, the lives depicted in the documentary are explicitly shaped by their work.
Given VC’s inclination toward the basic need for public commemoration of a collective trauma as part of the larger project of recognizing the history and community of Asian Americans, it seems only natural that an exhibition of still photographs (in a private living room, no less) would also be VC’s first public event as a collective. As the Camp Cubes Photo Display represents one of the first of such public exhibitions showing evidence of the Japanese American internment, it follows that Manzanar was largely an extension of the effort to provide the materiality of images in the public sphere, especially after decades of repression by 20 • Making Asian American Film and Video both the government and in the Japanese American community.