Filmmaker Karen Cho (a fifth-generation Canadian of mixed heritage) travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act (much like the Chinese Exclusion Act in the US), a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. She discovered that half her family wasn’t welcome in the country they called home. While Canada encouraged and rewarded immigration from Europe, it imposed laws that singled out the Chinese as unwanted and unwelcome. Personal accounts of extraordinary Chinese Canadians who survived an era that threatened to eradicate their entire community are at the core of this documentary. Through a combination of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations.
Here’s more Chinese Exclusion Act related videos: Chinatown Rising, Journey of a Paper Son, and Angel Island Profile: Tyrus Wong.
In the Shadow of Gold Mountain documentary
Comedian Bob Oschack did some “investigative” reporting on the USC campus about Colorado and Utah joining the PAC-10. In his comedy bit (if you can call it that), he specifically targets foreign students who are clearly not aware of what he’s talking about. Not sure why FOX Sports would left this on the air, but ranks up there with Asians in Library : Racist Rant by Alexandra Wallace. Wendi Deng Murdoch needs to lay the smackdown on this guy.
update: FOX Sports is quickly taking down this video across the internet before it goes viral. This is the last thing FOX Sports parent company, News Corp., needs right now.
update: deadspin is reporting that an apology was issued by FOX Sports (thanks to R. Lee for the tip):
We sincerely apologize to President [C. L. Max] Nikias and the entire USC community for the production and posting of the video. The context was clearly inappropriate and the video was removed as soon as we became aware of it. We will review our editorial process to determine where the breakdown occurred, and we will take steps to ensure something like this never happens again.
update: Fox Sports has canceled the college sports program “The College Experiment” that aired the controversial video. They also apologized to Asians/Asian Americans for making fun of Asian students’ accents and knowledge.
Racist FOX Sports piece with Bob Oschack at USC
The phenomenon of Asians seeking surgery to look Western, particularly eyelid surgery, has been around for a long time. The channelAPA.com crew stumbled on the documentary film “Western Eyes” that was created over a decade ago. Some of the same feeling from 10 years ago still hold true today. Here’s more about the film:
WESTERN EYES (2001) examines the search for beauty and self-acceptance through the experiences of Maria Estante and Sharon Kim, young women contemplating cosmetic surgery. Both of Asian descent – Maria is Filipina and Sharon is Korean – they believe their appearance, specifically their eyes, affect the way they are perceived by others. Layering their stories with pop culture references to beauty icons and supermodels, filmmaker Ann Shin looks at the pain that lies deep behind the desire for plastic surgery by drawing viewers into the real-time emotional journey of Maria and Sharon. Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing another face staring back at you. Would it change your identity? How much do your looks have to do with who you are?
For Maria, surgery is an expedient way to solve her crisis. “I could spend $5,000 to fix my nose and eyes and feel better,” she confesses as she sits in front of a mirror applying makeup and criticizing her facial features. “Or I could go into therapy – but who has the time to spend two or three years in therapy?”
Troubled by their relationships with their mother, their ancestry and their physical appearance, both Maria and Sharon feel somewhat unsettled in Western society. “I am recreating myself, I am balancing East and West. I’m getting it done because I want to feel better,” explains Sharon.
The 40 minute “Western Eyes” documentary is still as relevant 10 years ago as it is today. Will Asian Americans continue to “Westernize”?
Western Eyes documentary film
2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the Independent Television Service (ITVS), one of the largest sources of funding for independent filmmakers. In recognition of this milestone, ITVS has launched the ITVS Indies Showcase, a free online film festival running from July 25 to September 23, 2011 in honor of the extraordinary contributions of independent filmmakers to public television. This weekend they are showing China Blue. Here’s more about the film:
The documentary China Blue follows 17-year-old Jasmine, one of many teenagers working at a blue jeans factory, struggling to survive brutal work conditions. They work around the clock for pennies a day. Shot clandestinely and without permission from Chinese authorities, China Blue takes a rare and poignant look at the individuals who toil day-to-day to make the clothes we buy. CHINA BLUE reveals what international retail companies don’t want us to see: how the clothes we buy are actually made. To date, the film remains banned in China.
You can watch this free online screening Friday, August 12 – Sunday, August 14, 2011 here.
Here’s more films along the same topic: Xmas without China, Young & Restless in China, and Made In China: The People’s Republic of Profit
China Blue trailer
Pulitzer-Winning reporter Jose Antonio Vargas revealed he was an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times article “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” and on ABC News. Since he came to the US at the young age of 12, the Filipino “American” had false documents including a fake green card to conceal the fact that he was an illegal immigrant. He managed to graduated from high school & college and built a career as a journalist with companies like The Washington Post, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. In 2008, he even got access to Hillary Clinton during the Presidential elections. With all the success he’s had in journalism, why whould he reveal this now?
Jose Antonio Vargas couldn’t hide his secret any more and he was inspired by the four students who walked from Miami to Washington to lobby for the Dream Act, where undocumented young people could be eligible for a conditional path to citizenship in exchange for a mandatory two years in higher education or military service. He brings the debate and disicussion about undocumented immigrants to the forefront. It’s unclear what will happen to him now that his secret is out.
He also started a website to fight for immigratn rights. Define American is dedicated to changing the conversation about immigrants in America who are an inexorable part of our communities and our society. Founded by award-winning multimedia journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, Define American harnesses the power of storytelling and social media to bring about greater awareness of and support for immigration reform.
Pulitzer-Winning reporter Jose Antonio Vargas is an undocumented immigrant
Rap group Model Minority (Grandmaster Chu, D-one, and Inglish) manages to capture the Vincent Chin story in a song. If you don’t know the story, listen to the track. Here’s a short synopsis:
A Detroit auto industry worker, Vincent Chin was beaten to death on the night before his wedding by two men. As they shouted racial slurs at him, blaming the Japanese (Chin was Chinese) for stealing American automotive jobs. The men were later sentenced by a judge to 3 years’ probation and a fine of $3000.
The 29th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s death is June 23, 2011. The video for the song is from “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”. You can also watch the documentary Vincent Who? for FREE through the month of July.
Vincent Chin by Model Minority