What have we been up to? (Spring 2021)

A woman with black hair menaces a young man in a shadowy room.

Despite COVID and work/study/watch from home this spring, we’ve been really busy! We’ve hit our stride with virtual screenings, and although we would love to be in person with you, we have also used the time to chat with a bunch of people we wouldn’t normally get to see, including Directors Wei Te-Sheng from Taiwan, Adele Pham and Hao Wu, from NYC, Amanda Nell Eu from Malaysia,  and Linda Hoagland from North Carolina. Zoom paradoxically brings us closer to friends and colleagues who are on set far away.

We also screened a bunch of fantastic films, including English Vinglish (Shinde, 2012), Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (Wei, 2011), and Edo Avant-Garde (Hoaglund, 2019). For our themed series this spring, we explored the classic folklore of the Malaysian Pontianak, a ghost woman who manages to be both outside and inside of Malaysian traditions and culture. In Sumpah Pontianak we saw classic B-horror, through Pontianak of the Tuber Rose we experienced melodrama as horror, and last we saw what’s going on in contemporary independent and experimental Malaysian cinema.

We were so happy to receive a “Year of Engagement” grant. This allowed us to launch our “Other Colors” program, which focuses on connections and histories between Asian Americans and other American ethnic groups. We screened Adele Pham’s Nailed It and discussed the intimate relationships produced in Los Angeles over the history of nail salons, followed with a panel with students from the Black Action Society and Asian Student Alliance.

Finally, we are so grateful to both the Japan Foundation New York and the PA Council on the Arts for helping us expand our community programming. This spring, we are excited to screen Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom with the local Bhutanese community, as well as conduct a virtual Ikebana lesson with the Japan America Society of Pennsylvania.

Looking forward to see what summer brings!