10TH ANNUAL ASIAN-AMERICAN FILM SERIES
Where: Alhecama Theatre, 215A E. Canon Perdido
When: 7 p.m. Fridays, through July. 6 p.m. dinner.
Cost: $5 suggested donation, free to Historical Trust members.
Information: www.sbthp.org/aafs or (805) 961-5374
By Ted Mills
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it…but what if we don’t know our own history? As we approach the 10th year of the Asian American Film Series–put on by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historical Preservation at the Alhecama Theatre–it’s good to know that organizations and programmers continue to fight exactly this problem. Over four weeks, the Series will screen one film a week, highlighting neglected tales from Chinese-, Japanese-, and Filipino-American communities. Where possible, directors will be on hand for post-film discussion. And early birds can partake of themed cuisine dinners each night.
Danny Tsai has stepped into the curator’s shoes handed over by Terease Chin and fellow committee members, after being a volunteer during the ninth year.
“There a bit a pressure to make this as good as we can,” he says. “And we are definitely growing…There’s no theme, but if one things stays in the mind it’s about the importance of Asian-American history. So much of these films don’t get a lot of recognition or screentime.”
Here’s a brief look at the films.
PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY (Dir. Kimberlee Bassford, 2008)
Patsy Mink’s name should be more well known: she was the first Japanese-American *and* woman of color to be elected to Congress, the first Congresswoman from Hawaii, and the first Asian-American woman to run for President, all the way back in 1972. That’s a lot of firsts…but there’s more: she co-authored Title IX, landmark legislation that provided equal opportunities for women in higher education and athletics. Bassford’s award-winning documentary deserves a wider audience, especially as female POC are once again putting their stamp on politics.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN (Dir. Joe Fox and Marlene Shigekawa, 2017)
Need we mention why this film is pertinent right now? On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Order 9066, authorizing the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans in camps in some of the most desolate areas of the West. Fox and Shigekawa’s film tracks the history and the effects that this internment had on children and families in the years during and afterwards.
ULAM: MAIN DISH (Dir. Alexandra Cuerdo, 2018)
Filipino food is finally having its moment…well, at least down in Los Angeles, the foodie capitol of America. (Santa Barbara, ehhh, not so much.) But even this moment has been a hard fought battle, not just from the establishment, but as this doc shows, from within the Filipino community itself. Needless to say, better come early to this screening and have some dinner, or risk being absolutely famished after watching 90 minutes of fine cuisine.
BITTERSWEET ROOTS: THE CHINESE IN CALIFORNIA’S HEARTLAND (Ex. Prod. David Hosley and Dennis Yep, 2002)
Bringing it all back home–well, to the area once known as Santa Barbara’s Chinatown–is this study of the influence of Chinese immigrants on California, as thousands came to the newly incorporated State to seek their fortune in the Gold Rush. As that petered out, Chinese transformed California agriculture, helped build the railroads, and provide endless years of labor to the great American experiment. An important doc for anyone to understand the contributions of Asian-Americans to our state.