Archive for April, 2009

More From Ann Kaneko on Fujimori

Link to article in the NY Times, and see press release below:

Peru: Fujimori Verdict a Rights Victory
Former President’s Trial Likely to Advance Justice, Rule of Law

(Lima, April 7, 2009) – Today’s conviction of Alberto Fujimori, former president of Peru, is a major advance for human rights accountability in the region and beyond, Human Rights Watch said today.

A three-judge panel of the Peruvian Supreme Court found Fujimori guilty on charges involving serious human rights violations.

“After years of evading justice, Fujimori is finally being held to account for some of his crimes,” said Maria McFarland, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, who was in the courtroom for the ruling’s announcement. “With this ruling, and its exemplary performance during the trial, the Peruvian court has shown the world that even former heads of state cannot expect to get away with serious crimes.”

Human Rights Watch pointed out that today’s landmark decision fits within a global trend of increasing accountability for former heads of state. But it stands out because in contrast to many other situations, Peru’s national court system demonstrated the will, capacity, and independence to try its former president.

The ruling came after a lengthy televised trial, which Human Rights Watch said was respectful of due process guarantees and consistent with international standards on fair trial.

Fujimori was convicted of the killings of 25 people in two separate massacres, in 1991 and 1992, and the kidnappings of Gustavo Gorriti, a journalist, and Samuel Dyer, a businessman, in 1992. The massacres were carried out by the Colina unit, a specialized squad of military intelligence officers.

In its 2005 report, “Probable Cause: Evidence Implicating Fujimori” ( <; ), Human Rights Watch detailed the substantial evidence then available linking Fujimori to the Colina unit and its activities. The evidence included extensive official documentation and testimony showing that the Colina unit was not a rogue operation, but rather existed as a formal structure within the Army. Its members received resources and logistical support from the highest levels of the Army and the National Intelligence Service, which were completely under Fujimori’s control.

During the trial, additional evidence surfaced showing that the killings formed part of a counterinsurgency strategy that Fujimori established and carried out through the country’s intelligence services.

Human Rights Watch noted that today’s ruling takes on added significance because of Peru’s history of authoritarianism and weak rule of law. For a decade, the Fujimori government used bribery, extortion, and intimidation to concentrate power in the presidency, subverting the democratic process and eliminating normal checks by the judiciary, legislature, and media on government abuses ( <; ). Fujimori is to be tried separately on multiple corruption charges, which are also detailed in “Probable Cause.”

“Just a few years ago, Fujimori had near-total control of Peru’s judiciary,” said McFarland. “This court’s ruling is important not only because of its content, but also because it demonstrates the crucial role an independent tribunal can play in addressing past abuses and shoring up the rule of law.”

Today’s conviction is subject to appeal before the Supreme Court.

“We would like to believe that the court will continue to show the same transparency and impartiality it has demonstrated during the trial phase,” said McFarland. “If it does, we’re confident the verdict will stand.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Peru, please visit: <;

For more information, please contact:
In Lima, Peru, Maria McFarland (English, Spanish): +51-1-985441989 (Lima mobile); or +1-917-535-2816 (US mobile); or <>
In Lima, Peru, Daniel Wilkinson (English, Spanish): +51-1-995227757 (Lima mobile); or +1-646-552-8063 (US mobile); or <>
In Washington, DC, José Miguel Vivanco (English, Spanish): +1-202-612-4330; or +1-917-379-1180 (mobile)

Posted by Ming-Yuen S. Ma for Ann Kaneko

April 30, 2009 at 12:13 am Leave a comment

Ann Kaneko

Ann Kaneko

Ann Kaneko is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker, fluent in Japanese and Spanish. She was recently selected as Best Emerging Feature Documentary Director at the New York Asian American International Film Festival for her Fulbright-supported film, Against the Grain: An Artist’s Survival Guide to Perú. Her documentaries and shorts have been funded by the Japan Foundation, Hoso Bunka Foundation and Durfee Foundation and have been televised here and abroad. Kaneko has produced media installations and videos for the Skirball Cultural Center, Japanese American National Museum, Getty Center and SEIU-UHW. She participated in the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and received an MFA in film directing from UCLA. In addition to Against the Grain, her films include Overstay and 100% Human Hair.

Other films

Overstay is an intimate exploration of migrant workers seeking a better life in Japan, a rare documentary that seamlessly combines personal narrative and social commentary. Leaving families, friends, and cultural identity behind, six young people share their unique stories: three men escape familial responsibilities in Pakistan for the opportunity to reinvent themselves; a young Peruvian flees tradition in search of her independence; an Iranian turns discrimination he encounters into passionate activism; and a Filipina woman is seduced by the promise of easy money, only to find herself demeaned as a hostess. Alive with the colors and sounds of modern-day Japan, Overstay is a compelling, vibrant film that captures the human side of a timely, universal issue. A tale of sacrifice, loneliness, and courage, Overstay deftly parallels the story of immigrants living in the U.S. while examining a little-seen side of Japan.

100% Human Hair is a 17-minute action-packed musical film set in a Crenshaw wig shop. Threatened by eviction, Mr. Kim struggles to keep the shop afloat for his motley crew of employees and customers while his yuppy daughter pressures him to retire. The story follows Mr. Kim and his streetwise granddaughter’s plan to keep the store alive. The numbers in 100% Human Hair ranges from country to opera, providing a wide genre of music choices.

Against the Grain

Finally, the film Against the Grain: An Artist’s Surival Guide to Peru, follows four inspiring artists (Claudio Jiménez Quispe, Eduardo Tokeshi, Natalia Iguíñiz, and Alfredo Marquez) in their quest to ignite change and challenge ordinary people to speak out against the tyranny that clamps down on free thinkers and forces artists to censor their selves.

April 29, 2009 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment


I’ve been doing a lot of research recently about teaching English in China. Clearly, this isn’t exactly Asian Americans in Media, but it has made me think about Chinese – American relations, and how those are shaping the opportunities available to me and the reception I’m supposed to expect in China.
Recently, the Chinese Ministry of Education decreed that all English language classes have a foreign, native English speaker to help the students master pronunciation and idiom. Apparently, there is significant tension between the Chinese school administrators and the imported native speakers. They see the decree as intrusive, and are not as friendly towards these new hires as they otherwise might be. The students themselves are largely nonplussed as well. Most will stay in China, and rarely, if ever, speak English again. For the blithe American, these jobs might seem fun and interesting, but the resentment is more than superficial.
Returning to Asian – American relations, this poses an interesting new mess to sort out: until now, we have only discussed White – on -Asian mistreatment, but now we have a forum for discussing prejudices working the other way. In China, do they teach American-Asians in Media courses? Is George Bush:Evil Americans as Fu Manchu:Evil Chinese?
If I get the job, I’ll probably get a chance to tackle the problem myself, but I wanted to present the problem as a new angle on immigrant model minorities in a way that references themes and trends we’ve discussed in class.

-Steven Pankratz

April 29, 2009 at 7:21 am Leave a comment

CHANTS OF LOTUS / PEREMPUAN PUNYA CERITA Screening – Wednesday, April 29, 7pm, Broad Hall 210, Pitzer College; Pizza Party at 6:30pm


In person: Fatimah Tobing Rony (Director)

Four women filmmakers tackle four different stories about lives of marginalized women in Indonesia: in “Chant From an Island”, a midwife in a deserted island sacrifices her dying health to rescue a mentally challenged woman; in “Chant From a Tourist Town”, a high-school student toys around with an overwhelming access to free sex, which may put her life in jeopardy; in “Chant From a Village”, a single mother is forced to see her daughter and her best friend fall victims to women and children trafficking syndicate; and in “Chant From the Capital City”, a middle class Chinese woman is about to be separated from her only daughter because of an HIV threat.

This film was heavily censored by the Indonesian government.  The uncensored version (if available) will be screened. Some scenes are graphic and shocking.  This film is intended for mature audiences.


Directors: Fatimah Tobing Rony, Upi Avianto, Nia diNata, Lasja F. Susatyo

Cast: Rieke Dyah Pitaloka, Rachel Maryam, Arswendy Nasution, Kirana Larasati, Fauzi Baadila, Shanty, Susan Bachtiar, Sarah Sechan

For more information, go to the film’s web site (in Indonesian), or view film trailer on YouTube, for information in English, search on google, internet movie database (IMDB), or YouTube.

The film screening will be preceded by a pizza party, both events are free and open to the publicThis is our final screening for the mini-festival, thanks to everyone who helped out and participated!

Posted by Ming-Yuen S. Ma

April 22, 2009 at 11:34 pm 10 comments

AGAINST THE GRAIN: An Artist’s Survival Guide to Perú Screening – Wednesday, April 22, 7pm, Broad Hall 210, Pitzer College


In person: Ann Kaneko (Director)

In 1989, Alfredo Márquez used an image of Mao in an artwork. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. For every artist, the need to create and be heard is as basic as food and shelter. But what happens when you live in a country where the state clamps down on free thinkers, forcing artists to censure themselves? Four Peruvian visual artists, including Márquez, defy this tyranny through their work and ignite change, challenging ordinary people to speak out. These struggles and commitments raise the question: Is freedom of expression a right or a privilege?

Spanning two decades of corrupt governments and inept leaders, this film tells the story of four inspiring artists: Claudio Jiménez Quispe flees his home in Ayacucho because of insurgency with the Shining Path, a Maoist rebel group. He chronicles this violence in his retablos, traditional wooden display boxes. Alfredo Márquez, active in the 1980s underground punk scene, produces bold, political images despite four years of unjust imprisonment. With the downfall of former president Alberto Fujimori, critics targeted Japanese Peruvians like Eduardo Tokeshi, yet he reaffirms his identity through a series of red and white Peruvian flags. Natalia Iguíñiz provokes the Catholic Church and the socially conservative middle class with controversial images that challenge gender and class. Each artist teaches us what it means to persevere and make art in a country like Perú.

Highlighting amazing contemporary Peruvian artwork, this film combines gritty Super 8 with raw verité footage.  It also features music by iconic Peruvian bands, Leusemia and Uchpa, and Los Angeles indie rockers, Pilar Díaz and David Green, of los abandoned.


For more information on the film, or to see the trailer, go to the Against The Grain blog

Posted by Ming-Yuen S. Ma

April 15, 2009 at 9:58 pm 9 comments

Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown

Yesterday’s screening of Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown brought up themes we have previously discussed in class.  I didn’t really expect this since this is such new documentary (and we have been watching older films except for Hollywood Chinese, which reviewed older films).

When Daisy Lin Shapiro was asked about her motivation for making Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown, she talked passionately about how she started out wanting to break Asian American stereotypes.  I thought this was remniscent of the aims of the earliest Asian American documentary filmmakers.  Both wanted to represent Asian Americans in a way that hadn’t been represented before.  Shapiro is different in that she seems to be more accepting of some stereotypes.  She talked about how in some cases, it is true that some Asian women want to be “demure.”

I think that the problem is that Asian Americans, or any other group of people, can never be characterized by any number of stereotypes.  I suppose that Fanne is refreshing in that she is a “bad” representation of Asian Americans.  I mean “bad” in the sense that it strays from the demure and graceful traditional Miss Chinatown stereotype.  It is going in the right direction to have a wide variety of representations.

When Fanne Wong first came into the classroom, I was taken aback.  I didn’t really know how to respond and react.  I didn’t even know what to really think of her.  By the end of our discussion with Kristina Wong, I had a greater appreciation for what she did.  I realize that she is considerate when she is in character.  She doesn’t just want to cause chaos without a purpose.  She talked about how she only does her performance if it is worth other people’s time.  She isn’t careless; she is trying to make you think.  It is more than just a prank.

–Michelle Fong

April 10, 2009 at 1:34 am 2 comments

Asian American and Asian Pop Culture

As part of our final project with Yong Soon Min, Liana and I have created a short survey about Asian American and Asian Pop Culture that we hope you will take the time to fill out.  We hope to present preliminary results by next week.

Here is the link.

We also hope to use the class data to flush out any problems before we distribute the data to the entire student body.  Thanks for your participation!

–Michelle Fong

April 7, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Year of the Dragon Presentation (Matthew Park and Steven Pankratz

Year of The Dragon/ (1985) is a Michael Cimino film adapted from a novel
of the same name. It tracks the conflict between two rising stars: a
determined detective, and a ruthless Chinatown crime boss. Its reception
was marred by controversy, as the Chinese Citizen’s Benevolent
Association protested the portrayal of Chinatown and its inhabitants.
The reaction was so strong that the studio’s president added a
disclaimer to the beginning of the movie in areas where the CCBA had
focused its attacks on the film. Regardless, the film went on to gross

Several distinct communities are portrayed in the film: the criminal
underworld of Chinatown, the police, and the South-East Asian drug
manufacturers. As the story unfolds, the two main characters are shown
to not clearly fall into any of these categories: Stanley, the
policeman, is constantly defying his superiors. Joey, the crime boss,
takes over his syndicate with help from street thugs. The conflict with
their own communities, and how that places them outside their comfort
zones, is a large part of the story when they come to fight each other.

Beyond the character-community interactions, there are
community-community interactions to consider as well. Would the
Chinatown crime scene be the same if the police and the criminals did
not interact as they did? Would Joey have to buy heroin from Asia if
there weren’t pressure from other gangs? The historical relationships
between these groups are interesting, and it continues to shape their
relations in the present time of the movie.

Finally, outside the sphere of the main conflict, we see how
community-individual interactions have shaped the lives of the main
characters. Joey, in his role as local don, is (ostensibly) a charitable
figure, doling out tuition money for needy college-bound youth. The fact
that he quickly corrupts the same students is another facet of his role
as crime boss. Stanley, descended from Polish immigrants, marries a
local woman. After years of stressed marriage, his involvement in the
Chinatown scene throws him together with a saucy reporter. His constant
separation from the normative influence of the police department allows
him to sever his connections with his wife, and take up with the
reporter. Would he have behaved like that if he hadn’t been so distanced
from his community?

April 6, 2009 at 5:19 am 1 comment

Asian Americans in Television

When I asked Arthur Dong about Asian American stereotypes seen today, he pointed out that following the O.J. Simpson trial, Asian Americans were given the roles of scientists/medical personnel in television shows. When I thought about what he said, I was intrigued by this notion. This course is more a survey of media in terms of film, so we have been looking into films, but I have never really thought about the portrayal of Asian Americans in television.

I thought of the numerous television shows I watch: 30 Rock, Lost, How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs, My Boys, and Friends. I watch these shows on a regular basis, so I know them and their characters fairly well. When I think hard, the only examples of Asian Americans in these shows I can find are Julie (Friends season 2), Dr. Wen (Scrubs), and Jin and Sun (Lost). Among these characters, only Jin and Sun have major roles. Julie only appears for a short amount of episodes as Ross’ girlfriend and Dr. Wen only appears in certain episodes throughout the series. It is great to see Jin and Sun having a major role on a premier television show, but they only have their roles because their parts were specifically designated for Koreans. Had the writers at Lost chosen another nationality, these Asian Americans may not have had the opportunity to shine. On the other shows I watch Asian Americans appear in random parts of episodes, but none of the characters have a major role and do not stick with the audience as memorable characters.  

On other shows today, such as Grey’s Anatomy and CSI, we see Asian Americans occupying important roles, but as scientists/medical personnel, just as Dong pointed out. Even the great Asian American star Lucy Liu was on television last year in Cashmere Mafia, but the show was cancelled after one season. Looking at these few television shows, I cannot understand why Asian Americans are not given major roles. The only other show I can think of with Asian Americans filling major roles is Heroes.

It is not a question of acting ability, but does this reflect simply on the fact that they are Asian American? Why do we not see more Asian Americans filling major roles on television shows? Are there other examples of Asian Americans in television who defy the stereotype of scientists/medical personnel?

– Tommy Meyer

April 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm 1 comment

Guest Speaker Arthur Dong and “Hollywood Chinese”

Arthur Dong

Born in San Francisco, Arthur Dong is an Academy Award-nominated American documentary filmmaker. His work combines the art of the visual medium with an investigation of social issues, examining topics such as Asian American history and identity, and gay oppression. He received a BA in film from San Francisco State University in 1982 and completed the Director’s Fellowship program at American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies in 1985.

Dong’s film career began with Public (1970), an animated Super-8 film shot on his bedroom floor. Based on a poem written by Dong, Public tells the story of a child’s response to oppressive societal norms and the culture of violence surrounding him. The five-minute film earned first prize at the California High School Film Festival and was Dong’s first introduction to the power of film as a tool for progressive change.

As a film student at San Francisco State University, Dong produced Sewing Woman (1982), a documentary about his mother’s immigration to America from China. The film went on to receive an Academy Award nomination. Dong started his own company, DeepFocus Productions, Inc, which continues to develop, produce, and distribute his work. In 1984, Dong was selected a Directing Fellow to attend the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film Studies. Lotus (1987), a half-hour drama about the foot-binding of Chinese women, was produced with the support of a production grant from the American Film Institute’s Independent Filmmakers Program.

Dong’s next film was Forbidden City, U.S.A. (1989), a documentary on Chinese American nightclubs in 1940s San Francisco. He proceeded to produce thirteen documentaries for the Los Angeles PBS program on KCET-TV, Life & Times (1991-1992). For PBS’s first national series on the gay and lesbian issues, The Question of Equality, Dong directed the premiere episode, Out Rage ’69 (1995), which explored the New York City Stonewall Riots, an event many historians cite as the catalyst for the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement.

Stories from the War on Homosexuality,” Dong’s first DVD collection, puts together his trilogy of films covering the challenges and conflicts over gay issues. It includes Family Fundamentals (2002), a look at America’s culture wars over homosexuality as experienced by three conservative Christian families with gay children, Licensed to Kill (1997), a study of murderers who killed gay men, and Coming Out Under Fire (1994), an examination of the World War II origins of the military’s policies governing gay and lesbian service members.

In addition to an Oscar® nomination, Dong has earned a George Foster Peabody Award, three Sundance Film Festival awards, the Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy Award, and five Emmy nominations. His numerous awards for public service include the Asian American Media Award from Asian CineVision, the Historian Award from the Chinese Historical Society of America, two consecutive GLAAD Media Awards (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and the OUT 100 Award from OUT magazine. San Francisco State University named Dong its 2007 Alumnus of the Year. Dong has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Film and a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship. He served as a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and is currently on the Documentary Branch Executive Committee and represents the Academy on the National Film Preservation Board.

Hollywood Chinese

The film Hollywood Chinese (2007) investigates the cinematic history of Chinese Americans in film. From the first Chinese American film produced in 1916 to Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2005), this documentary weaves together a phenomenal portrait of actors, directors, writers, and movie icons who have defined American feature films. Dong explores the portrayals of Chinese Americans in films and how filmmakers have and continue to navigate an industry that was typically ignorant of race, yet still receptive. Hollywood Chinese also features intimate interviews with Nancy Kwan (the original Suzie Wong), Ang Lee, Amy Tan, and other Chinese-American celebrities who tell the story of how their heritage has limited their careers. Hollywood Chinese is a celebration of Chinese American film history, and it’s also the story of how the movie business has gradually changed for the better.

– Tommy Meyer and George Rowe

April 5, 2009 at 5:49 am Leave a comment

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