I’m working on a writing discussion question and need a sample draft to help me study.
[Strive to post your Part 1 Individual Reflection remarks by Thursday, April 15, 11:59pm. You are encouraged to include a question to your group. Then add your Part 2 Peer Comment by Saturday, April 17, 3pm.]
In our Week Three lecture and film exhibit Claiming a Voice: The Visual Communications Story, we are introduced to how late 1960s-1970s U.S. social movements (Black Power, Anti-Vietnam War, Third World alliance, San Francisco Student Strike for Ethnic Studies) influenced Asian Americans to take up media production as a form of community empowerment, and begin a process of self-representation. (As Linda Mabalot, a Visual Communications “VC” member says in her appearance, prior to 1970 there are no images.) In director Arthur Dong’s documentary film on VC’s first twenty years of production and filmmaker support services, you accessed examples of the members’ “cultural worker” documentary projects which experiment with visual techniques and points of view for children (City City, Kites and Other Tales), reexamine lives of their parents and internalized anti-Asian mindset (Wong Sinsaang), and interrogation of Japanese Americans’ World War Two internment that resulted in getting both bomb threats -and- community appreciation (Manzanar), to list a few.
In the second study documentary, The Fall of the I-Hotel (1983), Curtis Choy and a team of cameraworkers film for seven years around the August 4, 1977 raid when hundreds of San Francisco city marshalls forcibly remove elderly Filipino American male residents from their low-income residential hotel, and a diverse coalition of peoples attempt to block the eviction. The Media Exhibit directions asked you to observe your reactions to the use of a quiet poetry interlude (at 00:38:10), a film sequence where a camera travels inside the International Hotel with a reading by Filipino American writer Al Robles.
Director Curtis Choy criticized the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) for rejecting this film for their series POV (Links to an external site.), American television’s longest running showcase for independent nonfiction films.
The feedback I got…was that they were a hard-hitting documentary series and, since my thing had poetry, it didnt really qualify.
Curtis Choy’s comment about his application to POV, from an interview with Alvin Lu, Originally published July 30, 1997 in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
A Suggested Question for your reflection:
What do you make of these early efforts by Asian Americans to practice self-representation? As many of you wondered in our first Discussion cycle, do you notice specificities in how this first generation of Asian American documentary filmmakers are developing points of view and styles in support of particular aims? Keep in mind how the historical context influences how the members of Visual Communications are thinking about their projects and production practices. This week: make sure to integrate details, examples or citations from at least two categories of our Week 3 course materials, and clearly identify your sources. This means you should include at least two of the following resource types to inform your writing: (e.g. 1 reading + 1 film exhibit, 1 reading + 1 lecture point, 1 film exhibit + 1 lecture point, at minimum)
Unit 3 Lesson material Categories
- Jun Okada. Section titled “Visual Communications” (pp.15-26) in their book Making Asian American Film and Video: History, Institutions, Movements. Rutgers University Press, 2015.
- Reading by Renee Tajima-Pena, titled “Moving the Image: Asian American Independent Filmmaking 1970-1990.”
Class Lesson Category
- Class 5 Zoom Class or Lesson slides
- Class 6 Zoom Class or Lesson slides
Documentary Film Exhibit Category:
- Claiming a Voice: the Visual Communications Story. Director: Arthur Dong, 1990.
- The Fall of the I-Hotel. Director: Curtis Choy, 1983.
(If you wish to discuss another take on the week’s materials, feel free to identify a different frame for your comments.)