By Keo Xiong, Middle School Program Coordinator
Photos by Melor Suhaimi, MD Programs Manager
How many of you can say you have had a video you made be featured on a big screen at a film festival? AALEAD youth can proudly say that they have had this experience! DC Asian Pacific American (APA) Film held its annual film festival this past Thursday, October 2 – Saturday, October 4 at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. The short videos made by AALEAD middle and high school youth as part of the Ghandi Brigade Youth Media Project last year were featured before the showing of Asian American filmmaker Jeff Fong’s dramatic comedy, Ru, during Saturday’s indie screening.
Ru, the title of the film and name of the protagonist, is a film about a young man pressured by his family to enter into the family business or risk losing his place within his family. Ru struggles to challenge the strict path his family has chosen for him while discovering what kind of life he truly wants for himself. Like the character Ru, the videos created by AALEAD youth stress the importance of moving beyond stereotypes and family expectations to find one’s own identity and pursue their passions.
Three AALEAD youth had the opportunity to attend the screenings of the films, and even participated in Q & A at the end of the screening. They stood alongside Jeff Fong and shared their experiences about film-making with the audience. Jeff Fong expressed sadness at the lack of Asian American actors and starring roles for Asian Americans in the film industry, but remained hopeful that through his films and others like his, undiscovered Asian American talents can shine and be seen. AALEAD youth were inspired by the film festival, which featured films produced by and starring Asian Americans.
In a society and industry in which Asians and Asian Americans are consistently rendered invisible or stereotyped as nerdy, foreign, angry, or funny, with limited roles as math whizzes, comical sidekicks, or martial artists, it was refreshing to see Asian Americans push back against these limitations and be humanized as real people with real problems, dreams, hopes, and talents.
AALEAD is honored to have had the opportunity to share our youth videos at such an important community event. We would like to thank Christian Oh, Executive Director of DC APA Film, and Wyman Lee for allowing us the opportunity to show our videos at the film festival! We look forward to a continued partnership to create more youth-led videos and inspire Asian American youth to explore film-making.
To learn more about DC APA Film, please visit www.apafilm.org.
To learn more about the videos created by AALEAD youth, read this blog post: Lights, Camera, Action!