Friday, March 21, 2008

Speaking to Oakland High

Abe Ferrer of Visual Communications with Duc Nguyen and Chris Woon (Among B-Boys)

Quite a week I had. Started on Sunday, I attended the annual APA filmmakers brunch hosted by CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) in Japan Town, San Francisco.
It was a really wonderful event for APA filmmakers in the Bay Area. We exchanged our battle stories, concerns, love, passion and how to get the next round of funding. There were the veterans like Loni Ding, Spencer Nakasako, Felicia Lowe. And then there were the younger generation filmmakers like Chris Woon, Marissa Aroy, Leo S. Chiang. We chatted, drank coffee while the CAAM staff sobered up for another busy day of the 26th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

APA Filmmakers Summit with ITVS and CAAM at Kabuki Hotel.

We then moved on to a Summit with ITVS (Independent Television Service) and CAAM across the block at the Kabuki Hotel. This meeting was organized by ITVS in conjunction with CAAM to get feedbacks from Asian Pacific filmmaking community mostly in the Bay Area. There were the veterans like Stephen
Okazaki, Christine Choy, Deann Borshay Liem, Loni Ding, Felicia Lowe and the sprinkle of new faces like Karin Chien (The Motel producer) and others like me. We engaged in a (let's say) healthy discussion about the challenges and changing landscape of independent filmmaking. I will save the details for a separate blog later. Overall, I think we got some points across and the hosts were there to listen.

The following few days brought some comforting moments as I began to do outreach and engagement campaigning for B52. On weds. we did a shoot in San Jose with KTEH for the World Premiere promo on April 30. KTEH and CAAM flew chi Tung, the Bolinao 52 survivor in the film to San Jose for the shoot. I met her and the KTEH crew at the boat people museum in Kelly Park. Once I got there the crew was still setting up lights and checking sound. The museum housed a collection of Vietnamese refugees memorabilia ranging from South Vietnamese military medals to boat people photos and books on Vietnam War. I've heard about the museum but never got a chance to visit. Before the interview with KQED's journalist Oanh Ha, I met with Bac Loc, the director of the museum. A gracious man with such charm, Bac Loc put a lot of effort into the museum and he did it without a large operating budget. Somehow, he was able to maintain his task of preserving the old memories for history sake. I could identify with that.
Tung Trinh, Bolinao 52 survivor and me in front of a painting of boat people escape routes at the San Jose Boat People Museum.

The following day, I went to Oakland High School to speak to a group of 10 graders. The class was a world culture class and because the teacher Tara saw Bolinao 52 at the Wine Country Film Festival last year. She got a copy of the film and began showing her students the film. Tara wanted to show a different perspective than the within the bow point-of-view of the Vietnam War. It has been a long time since I been to a high school. The activities that went on in the hall was as hectic as the traffic on the freeway. Boys and girls darted through the hall like buzzing bees socializing, making plans, catching up with gossips, teasing and flirting with each others. Some more serious students headed straight to their next destinations. I spoke to 4 classes between 8:15am and 2:00pm about any issues that concerned them. I would say it was an interesting and challenging experience having discussion with 10 graders. They are at an age where they began to develop some critical thinking skills. And at the same time they still retained their juvenile tendencies. We went to many topics that I don't normally discussed with public audience. And we even tried some interactivities. I gathered all students in one class and placed them next to each other in the middle of the room. The idea was to simulate an experience of being in close quarter for a period of time. We only did 5 minutes and there were complaints about how their neighbors smell.

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