One common theme that has been echoing in some of the documentaries presented in Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is that mix-raced Asians either in the states or in an Asian country, or Asian immigrants are trying to find out who they are and what country they represent. The identity searching is a ever-green theme in the Asian American community which has 60 percent first-generation immigrants and the largest percentage of interracial marriage.
In the documentary Hafu, it explored the life of mix-raced Japanese in Japan. The film showed that about 2 million foreigners were living in Japan in 2010, constituting around 30,000 international marriages. Children from these marriages are called Hafu, a Japanese word evolved from the English word “half,” indicating half Japanese and half foreigner.
Japan strictly upholds the ideology of “one nation, one culture, one race.” It outcasts the mix-raced Japanese, who grew up there and speak the language perfectly. The film has profiled different mix-raced Japanese from all kinds of racial combination, background, age and both genders. It provides a deep and well-rounded view about the struggle they have and the questions they raise about their country and themselves. All of their stories are revolving around one question–“Who am I?”
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Among the many heavy topics in the films of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival from May 2 to 12, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow provides a touch of humor in a bitter story of a gay man trying to hide his sexuality in a marriage with a woman.
After marring to Ah Feng for nine years, Weichung has never really enjoyed a single day of his marriage or family life, because of his secret that he is gay. He used this marriage which looked perfect in an outsider’s eyes to hide his sexual orientation. To others, he was a loving husband, a hard working man and a caring father. He tried to stay away from his old circle of gay friends in order to maintain his marriage, or the façade he built just to shelter his secret.
“Nobody will find out, because I am already married,” Weichung told his old friend Stephen, a wedding photographer who is also gay and married to a lesbian.
Things changed when his wife Ah Feng wanted a second child. Subsequently, questions were raised in Ah Feng’s mind when she found out Weichung’s strange behaviors and his effort to avoid having sex with her. At the beginning, she thought her husband was having an affair.
“I’m American, and I’m sorry” is my usual way of introducing myself to people when they hear my accent and get puzzled by its New England droll with Southerner slang coming from an Asian face. This was how I have always introduced myself when living outside of America, albeit facetiously to Australian and Canadian expats and with deferring humility to natives typically unfamiliar with Americans, let alone American diversity. The actual response from locals is a lot more “Oh hey, that’s cool! America! What’s it like?” than “Burn in hell, you sacrilegious Satan!” Their typical doses of Americana is the occasional viewing on pirated VCDs the latest Hollywood films; they all have better things to think about besides hating Uncle Gringo 24/7. Usually, they think about working to make ends meet, impressing the hot girl at school, and trying to avoid traffic without bribing police officers as their real priorities. When Innocence of Muslims debuted, nothing much changed in Jakarta or anywhere else from western to eastern Indonesia.
The 15th Anniversary of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival opens its doors this coming Tuesday, November 8th to 12th in downtown Toronto, followed by 4 special screenings in Richmond Hill November 18th to 19th.
Voted one of Toronto’s Best Little film festival, Reel Asian has grown leaps and bounds from its humble independent roster, to screen world premieres of International Asian films. Check out my reviews for Lover’s Discourse, Saigon Electric, Piercing, I, and Jump Ashin after the jump.
As a huge fan of Queen, I felt it was important to wish a happy birthday to one of the greatest rock stars and greatest voices of all time, Freddie Mercury.
But did you know his real name is Farrokh Bulsara? He was a Parsi born in Zanzibar and grew up there and in India until his mid-teens. He is considered to be Britain’s very first Asian mega rock star. In 2006, Time Asia named him as one of the most influential Asian heroes of the past 60 years.
When I first saw the trailer for Snow Flower and The Secret Fan, I had horrifying fears that this film would be Joy Luck Club 2: Asian Women Being Oppressed by Asian Culture (Again) since it was also directed by Wayne Wang. Words can’t quite describe how much I dislike Amy Tan’s book and the film adaptation, even though I am aware that it is one of the few instances where a Hollywood production used a primarily Asian cast. In some ways, Joy Luck Club was a breakthrough film that gave many of the Asian actresses more work.
Metallica’s Lars Ulrich has been replaced by an Asian female drummer! Just kidding… sort of. I’m sure I don’t need to reiterate all the less-than flattering stereotypes that Asian American Pacific Islander women have to battle against every day. (If I see another friendly Asian girl customer service image I’m going to hurl.) Sometimes I just want to yell, “NO, I’m not here to provide you with harmless and friendly services!” but Annette Ortiz-Diaz smashed up such stereotypes and with drum sticks no less. At her wedding, she pounded out killer drums for Metallica’s classic song “Master of Puppets.” Her “simple” wedding video has gone seriously viral with over 20K views within 24 hours of uploading. Their unconventional wedding has (so far) been covered by OC Weekly, Blabbermouth.net, CBSNews, and Poptastic Bride.
Clearly a veteran musician, Ortiz-Diaz was a drummer for band Fatal Posporos in the Phillipines and currently is the bassist for L.A. based rock band Random Ninjas. On the side, she was in an all AAPI Metallica cover band called Trapped Under Rice. Rawk on, girlfriend.
I don’t usually pay attention to reality shows so when it flashed across my Facebook that Scarlet Chan had written something, I thought, “Hey, neato. Let me comment, even though she’ll never read it.”
This is a funny statement coming from a Chinese American girl, but considering her K-Town Reality Show is about a group of Asians hanging out in Koreatown, I could see why people might think that Scarlet would be Korean. But it brought up a perfectly good point: how do Asians identify other Asians? Is this something that white people do in a similar fashion?
Ever hear about how Asians all look alike? I’m sure you have. For Caucasians, defining features that differentiate people are often hair color and eyes; yes, I understand that there are other obvious differences, but on a bigger picture level, that’s what you would look at to identify a person. But Asians all have black hair and black eyes, so that methodology doesn’t quite work out.
But because we have the same color hair and eyes, Asians seem to identify other nationalities with more subtle differences at first glance. Obviously, I haven’t actually done any research into this, and it was just a conversational piece that I had with my wife about identification since usually there are some features that are dominant with certain ethnicities. But back to the question itself: does Scarlet look Korean? And if not, why?
Let’s be honest: This was also a perfect chance to put up a semi-nude shot of Scarlet. Scarlet Chan approved. Boo-yah.
I am amazed at how people could even attempt to make the sounds they do through beatboxing. But just as Asians have started to dominate the bboy scene, it seems that they are starting to go crazy also with beatboxing. Daichi and Hikakin are the two most well known beatboxers from Japan, and both have done several television appearances.
Hikakin was the first one that my wife found out about when she was searching about Nintendo music and ran across his Super Mario beatbox. What’s really crazy is that most DJs use records and equipment to all the mixing and scratching, but these guys can do it straight from their throats with absolutely impressive beats.
If you’ve been on Facebook in the last couple of months, then you might have been inundated with requests to vote in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign. With financial resources drying up for many organizations, this campaign has been a rare opportunity for non-profit orgs to come by cold, hard cash by simply leveraging their social media muscles.
I have been supporting the Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) in this campaign, since I feel that their “big idea” has the greatest potential for immediate impact on those who are living in Los Angeles, right now. CPAF was founded to help address domestic violence and sexual assault in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Up to 60% of Asian and Pacific American women experience domestic or sexual abuse in their lifetime, and are the least likely to report the abuse. Since the economic downturn in 2008, domestic violence has been on the rise. With cutbacks in state funding, non-profits like CPAF are forced to turn away more callers trying to flee a violent home.
CPAF proposes to fund a multilingual call center (beyond Asian languages) to support emergency shelters and rape crisis centers to stretch their resources to serve more survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. Currently, each of the 20 domestic violence shelters and 6 rape crisis centers in Los Angeles County run their own 24 hour hotlines. One joint hotline would benefit everyone, but the resources to plan for and develop a sustainable joint hotline do not exist. If CPAF receives the Chase dollars, it will invest in developing the technological and programmatic infrastructure to handle crisis calls for all partnering agencies, in over 30 languages, at CPAF’s Multi-Lingual Call Center. CPAF will also extend the hotline services to include ONLINE CHAT to make services more accessible to survivors. CPAF will also establish VIDEO CONFERENCING capacity at partnering agencies, which will allow bilingual staff based in CPAF’s Call Center to provide multi-lingual services throughout Los Angeles County. Materials, including multi-media productions in various languages, will be collected and developed to be shared with partnering agencies and larger community through an ONLINE LIBRARY.
All that said, the Asian American community has been banding together in this campaign to get folks online and to VoteCPAF.org! This is significant in terms of community organizing because it is probably the largest and most effective grassroots online effort done by the Asian American community– one which has gotten big names from different fields together behind one cause. A series of PSAs have been released on YouTube, and I’ll be unleashing them on 8Asians, until the voting ends 3 days from now. You’ve been warned.
I hope that you’ll not only give CPAF your vote, but also ask your friends and families to vote, too. This is really the first campaign of this type on Facebook and if Asian Americans can show their strength online, then the win won’t just be for CPAF, but it will be a huge win for us all.
This video features Danny Cho as Kim Jong Il folllowing up on his “eHarmony” video and tells us how much he loves women– asking us not to “violence women domestically or internationally.” It’s a funny video with a a serious message.
And as an added bonus, OUTTAKES! (WARNING: For mature audiences only)
With the holidays comes eating, especially if you’re Asian. We eat to celebrate the good times, the bad times, and everything in between. The holiday season is no different — with all this eating, I thought about a producer/reporter friend of mine, Adam Yamaguchi, who made a video about his trip to China and a restaurant that served only penis. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out: Penis Restaurant: Vanguard.
For Asians, this should not be too shocking of a video. When we eat an animal, we eat the entire animal. Pick off every piece of flesh from the head to the tail, including sometimes the skin, bones, eyeballs, etc.
And actually, this isn’t just an Asian thing: people from the rest of the world don’t waste any part of the animals they eat. They literally eat every everything (including penis). If you don’t believe me, go to a good “ethnic” market and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Americans, on the other hand, seem to waste most of the animal. My immigrant mom used to say that I ate like an American, which needless to say, was meant to be disparaging. And deep down, I know it’s wasteful. (My stepfather from Hiroshima claims that the eyeball is the best part of a fish. I’ll just have to trust him on that one.) Other than highlighting the wastefulness of most Americans, to me, Adam’s video just reminds me of how un-Asian (is that a word?) I really am.
Hey, readers! Are you not Asian? Have you always wondering why Asians look so beautiful? Well, today is your lucky day, because this video tutorial is going to teach you all of our ancient cultural secrets on maintaining youthful skin and, uh, ginseng steaming.
Yes! You, too, can now look as amazing as these exotic “Asians” just by keeping a stash of washcloths in your fridge and placing them on your face, even if you’re already — and clearly — wearing make-up!
Looking for a easy method to prevent wrinkles? It’s as simple as slicing paper-thin pieces of Panax ginseng root, soaking them in distilled water, steaming them and then drinking the liquid three times a day! (I mean, you’d think that Asians would somehow figure out how to conveniently bottle this ginseng extract by now so you’d skip the whole slicing and steaming crap, but I guess not.)
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.
Little known fact: Asian people forgo modern conventions like “wide brimmed hats” and “sunscreen” to protect their pristine, white yellow skin with unique contraptions called “parasols”. Yes, it’s true — these strange folks walk around with paper umbrellas to prevent skin damage and cancer.
Alright, I’m done mocking this: please continue in the comments section. I’ve got some coconut to shred and then simmer with equal parts of water and milk, which I will then strain through cheesecloth and refrigerate so I can use the cream on top to moisturize my beautiful face. (LIKE, SERIOUSLY? YOU CAN’T JUST BUY SOME COCONUT BASED SKIN LOTION FROM CVS? Do these people really think Asians do this? This is how they’re going to kick off 2010 — WITH COCONUT SHREDS BOILED IN MILK?)
[Hat tip: Kristian from Fil-Am Ako]