Visual Communications Evolves with the Times

Founded in 1970, Visual Communications (VC) was the first nonprofit organization in the country dedicated to supporting the creation, presentation, and preservation of media works by Asian Pacific American people. On the eve of the 31st edition of their Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, taking place April 23–30, we checked in with Francis Cullado, VC’s Interim Executive Director, and Milton Liu, VC’s Director of Programs and Artist Services, about the state of Asian Pacific American media arts today.

Fresh Off the Boat panel at the 2014 Conference for Creative Content (C3), with with moderator Amy Hill (actor), Randall Park (star), Nahnatchka Khan (showrunner), Melvin Mar (executive producer), and Samie Kim Falvey (Executive Vice President, Comedy Development, ABC).
Fresh Off the Boat panel at the 2014 Conference for Creative Content (C3), with
moderator Amy Hill (actor), Randall Park (star), Nahnatchka Khan (showrunner), Melvin Mar (executive producer), and Samie Kim Falvey (Executive Vice President, Comedy Development, ABC). Photo courtesy Visual Communications.

 

JANM: The world of media arts has changed so much since 1970, and of course, VC has evolved along with it. What would you say are the most significant developments or changes that have occurred at VC in the last 10 years or so?

Francis Cullado: Widespread technological advances have empowered more people to become creative artists. At VC, we’ve developed our programs to utilize new technologies and processes to create digital stories. Gone are the days of expensive media, and with greater accessibility, we can create programs to capture and nurture digital storytellers.

Milton Liu: The media landscape has changed drastically in the last 10 years. Now, you can shoot a film on your iPhone and upload content directly to your YouTube/Vimeo page. Because of this, we’ve seen a surge of content that’s available through non-traditional channels, and a decrease in audiences for movie theaters and appointment television. For this reason, VC continues to focus on diverse year-round programs, such as the Armed with a Camera Fellowship for emerging artists and the Digital Histories program of short films created by senior citizens.

The Conference for Creative Content (C3), the premier entertainment media conference that happens as part of the annual festival, delves into a myriad of traditional and nontraditional topics with leading content creators and executives. For instance, past panels have included Sustaining Your Online Audience, Writing for Diverse Characters in TV, and Transitioning from Film to Video Games. Media continues to evolve and we understand the need for Visual Communications to remain at the forefront of this change.

Opening night at the 2014 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Photo courtesy Visual Communications.
Opening night at the 2014 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
Photo courtesy Visual Communications.

 

JANM: APA visibility in the media seems to be growing steadily, getting a big boost recently with the hit TV show, Fresh Off the Boat. What do you think are the important next steps for the community in terms of building and maintaining media presence?

ML: The next steps for the community are to keep pressing to have APAs not only in front of the camera, but behind it. Furthermore, the percentage of APA actors, writers and directors in TV and film still doesn’t come close to matching the percentage of APAs in the American population. Keep fighting to have APAs represented! People of color make up huge audiences that spend our money on film and TV—speak with your wallet!

FC: Keep supporting APAs in media, and keep demanding more! To quote our fellow staffer Abraham Ferrer, for every production highlighting Asian Americans “that crows about diverse casting, there are at least 20 more in which people of color simply don’t exist.” The discourse that Fresh Off the Boat has created and will continue to create has many complexities that revolve around race, ethnicity, and culture, and that’s great. But just because we’ve progressed to a point that is different from where we started, it doesn’t mean that it’s where we want and/or need to be.

For more information about Visual Communications and the upcoming Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, please visit vconline.org.

Awkward ‘n’ Awesome Rock ‘n’ Roll Movie THE CRUMBLES screening at JANM on Sat Jan 25!

crumbles still

THE CRUMBLES is an indie rock slice-of-life tragicomedy about Darla and Elisa, two young women struggling to catapult their talented but directionless garage band to stardom. Called “elegant and affectionate” by the LA Times, this lighthearted romp across the east side of Los Angeles offers a fun and realistic portrait of what it’s like to be in a fledgling band. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

Directed by Akira Boch and featuring music by Grammy winner Quetzal Flores.

Cast and Crew will be in attendance.

This is a FREE EVENT!

When: SATURDAY, JANUARY 25 @ 7pm

Where: Tateuchi Democracy Forum
Japanese American National Museum
111 N. Central Ave., LA, CA 90012

Sponsored by the Japanese American National Museum

FREE BEER reception to follow, sponsored by Lagunitas Brewing Company

Afterparty at Wolf & Crane in Little Tokyo starts at 10pm

More info: thecrumbles.com

Check out The Crumbles on Facebook

The Crumbles @ JANM Sat. Jan 25

Catch the Los Angeles Premiere of “Mrs. Judo” at JANM on Saturday, November 16th!

fukuda_photoOn Saturday, November 16th at 2pm JANM will be screening a full-length documentary chronicling the life long journey of the late Keiko Fukuda, a renowned pioneer of women’s judo. Yuriko Gamo Romer’s film, Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, documents Keiko Fukuda’s decision to defy thousands of years of tradition, choose her own path, and become judo history’s only woman to attain the pinnacle 10th degree.

 

 

cade-fukuda-1974-liftA live demonstration of “Ju-no-kata”, a signature form of Fukuda-Sensei, will precede the film screening and will be performed by Robin Fernandez and Charmaine Galvez, with narration by Greg Fernandez Jundokai Judo and Jujitsu Club of La Mirada.

A Q&A session will follow screening with filmmaker Yuriko Gamo Romer and panelists who will discuss the legacy of Keiko Fukuda and the Japanese cultural traditions and relations that continue from Japan to the U.S. through judo.

Don’t miss the Los Angeles Premiere of Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, along with a special judo demonstration, and a Q&A session!

Read an interview with director Yuriko Gamo Romer on Discover Nikkei >> 

Photo Credits: mrs.judomovie.com

 *****

For more information on Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, please visit: www.mrsjudomovie.com

This screening is part of the Tateuchi Public Program Series, organized in partnership between the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation and the Japanese American National Museum. Tateuchi Public Programs develop presentations that explore the connections between Japan and the United States in the context of politics, art, music, and culture. The program series is created annually with the objective of enhancing understanding between the two countries. Learn more about Tateuchi Public Programs, at: www.janm.org/events/tateuchi

To stay updated on JANM’s events, please visit our events page: www.janm.org/events

 

“Farewell to Manzanar” release on DVD

After 35 years, Farewell to Manzanar will FINALLY be available for people to buy!

In 1976, the made-for-TV movie was shown on NBC, directed by John Korty from a screenplay written by the original authors of the book—Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her husband James D. Houston. It was a film made for a mainstream audience using Japanese American actors and many crew, something that is still pretty unheard of today.

There were several reasons why it was never re-broadcast, and only rarely shown after its initial viewing. It was also never made available for sale for the public, despite constant requests from the community, as well as from many educators who use the book in their classrooms as part of their curriculum.

Personally, I’m really excited about the release on DVD because I’ve never actually seen it. I do remember reading it in junior high school for a class assignment, and I’ve heard about the film version so many times. I used to work in the Museum’s Store for many years, and one of the most consistent (and persistent) questions I got year after year was whether we had it for sale. I’m so glad that I can now finally say “Yes!”

FAREWELL TO MANZANAR SCREENING

The Museum is doing a special screening of Farewell to Manzanar on Sunday, October 23 at 2pm in the Democracy Forum. Join special guests for a screening and Q&A. Tickets are $25 for Members or $30 for non-members, and includes Museum admission and a complimentary copy of the DVD. Purchase tickets for the screening >>

You can also order the DVD from the Museum Store >>

LEARN MORE

We asked Esther Newman, one of our volunteer writers, to write a series of articles about the film for our Discover Nikkei website. The first one was published today: Farewell to Manzanar on DVD—Timeless and Timely

Additional pieces will look at director John Korty and the actors in the film.

9066 to 911 DVD

9066 to 9/11 — JANM-Produced Film Available on Comcast!

In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the JANM-produced film “FROM 9066 TO 9/11” is available in Comcast’s cable VOD service, Cinema Asian America for the month of September.

About the film:

After the attacks of September 11, there was an instant public backlash against Arab Americans and Muslims.  Anyone who looked like the “enemy” became suspect.  The same thing happened to Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the parallels were obvious.  Unfortunately, the backlash against Japanese Americans during World War II resulted in the mass incarceration of 120,000 innocent people.  It became the mission of many Japanese American individuals and community groups, including the Japanese American National Museum, to use our community’s history in order to protect the rights of our Arab American and Muslim brothers and sisters. As we all know, if we forget our history, we may find ourselves repeating it.

Features interviews with: Yuri Kochiyama, Rev. Art Takemoto, Jerry Kang, Dr. Art Hansen, Linda Sherif, Ban Al-Wardi, Tajuddin Shuaib, and Evelyn Yoshimura.

About the VOD service, Cinema Asian America:

Cinema Asian America is a ground-breaking new video-on-demand offering, which features Asian American films and videos in a monthly, thematically-programmed format.

For the first time, millions of viewers across the nation are able to watch a curated series of Asian American and Asian films, which will collect together award-winning films fresh from the film festival circuit and classics which beg to be revisited.

From September 1, 2011 – September 31, 2011, “FROM 9066 TO 9/11” will be available to all Comcast digital cable subscribers with On-Demand.  It is available for $0.99/view.

9066 to 911 DVD

To watch:

Through your digital cable menu, click on the “On Demand” button, and then look under the “Movies” folder. In this will be a “Movie Collections” folder and inside of this viewers will find “Cinema Asian America” and will be able to access “FROM 9066 to 9/11.”

Thank you, and please help spread the word!

p.s. For those who don’t have Comcast but are interested in watching the film, it’s available on DVD from the Museum Store.

Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray

Toyo Miyatake on Comcast this month

Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray

The Watase Media Arts Center’s award-winning film, Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray is going to be shown on Comcast throughout the month of May!

About the film:

Having smuggled a lens and film holder into one of America’s concentration camps during World War II, Toyo Miyatake was among the first to photograph this national disgrace. Yet it was his little-known artistic pursuits before the war that honed his discerning eye.

Produced by Karen L. Ishizuka and directed by Robert A. Nakamura with music by David Iwataki, the film is a penetrating portrait of the photographer’s quest to capture the beauty and dignity of everyday life.

The many awards that "Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray" has won

The film has won numerous awards, including:

* Official Sundance Film Festival Selection

* Grand Jury Award Best Documentary Short, Florida Film Festival

* CINE Gold Eagle

 

See it on Comcast this month:

Comcast has a video on demand service called “Cinema Asian America” which was launched in December 2010, featuring a monthly-curated series of Asian American and Asian films—award-winning films fresh from the film festival circuit and classics. These films include both short and feature-length works and the genres range from documentary to narrative to experimental.

From May 1–31, 2011, Toyo Miyatake will be available to all Comcast digital cable subscribers with On-Demand. See below for a list of all major Comcast markets in the U.S. The film will cost $0.99/view.

For those who are able to view Comcast programs, through their digital cable menu, viewers should click on the “On Demand” button, and then look under the “Movies” folder. In this will be a “Movie Collections” folder and inside of this viewers will find “Cinema Asian America” and will be able to access the film.

You can also purchase the film on DVD from our Museum Store >>

(The recently released DVD includes Japanese subtitles & includes Moving Memories as a bonus feature. Hosted by George Takei, it features restored and edited home movies from the 1920s and 1930s taken by Japanese American immigrant pioneers as they made America their new home.)

 

Comcast TV Market:

Birmingham, AL • Dothan, AL • Huntsville, AL • Little Rock, AR • Tucson, AZ • Fresno, CA • Sacramento, CA • San Francisco, CA • Santa Barbara, CA • Colorado Springs, CO • Denver, CO • Hartford, CT • Washington DC • Ft. Myers, FL • Jacksonville, FL • Miami, FL • Orlando, FL • Panama City, FL • Pensacola, FL • Tallahassee, FL • Tampa, FL • West Palm Beach, FL • Atlanta, GA • Augusta, GA • Savannah, GA • Peoria, IL • Chicago, IL • Champaign, IL • Rockford, IL • Ft. Wayne, IN • Indianapolis, IN • South Bend, IN  • Charleston, KY • Paducah, KY • Louisville, KY • Monroe, LA • New Orleans, LA • Shreveport, LA • Boston, MA • Springfield, MA • Baltimore, MD • Salisbury, MD • Detroit, MI • Kansas City, MO • Minneapolis, MN • Columbus, MS • Hattiesburg, MS • Jackson, MS • Albuquerque, NM • New York, NY • Youngstown, OH • Portland, OR • Harrisburg, PA • Johnstown, PA • Philadelphia, PA • Pittsburgh, PA • Wilkes-Barre, PA • Charleston, SC • Chattanooga, TN • Knoxville, TN • Memphis, TN •Nashville, TN • Tri-Cities, TN • El Paso, TX • Houston, TX • Salt Lake City, UT • Richmond, VA • Roanoke, VA • Seattle, WA • Spokane, WA • Wheeling, WV