Archive for April 29, 2009

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


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