Accès-Asie Festival continued its popular run as Tangente showcased a diverse and provocative set of dance numbers by choreographers from Montréal, Seoul and Tokyo. The three-day run drew in a packed house on all three nights, with a sold-out show on its opening night on Friday, May 20th.
First act of the Dance-X Tour lineup was the Montreal debut of Erin Flynn's "From ashes Comes the Day," with George Santos as a collaborator, a meditation on people's relationships with things around them and the powerful (and destructive) emotional attachment to objects.
As the lights slowly came on stage, audience members were greeted by the stage resembling a home in disarray, with the thump thump thump sounds of Santos repeatedly striking himself with a fully stuffed cloth bag, sitting on a chair with his back to the audience. The emotional intensity was conveyed through the expressive movements of the dancers, as well as the ambient music and the atmospheric lighting throughout. Through various costume changes that ranged from glittery party dresses, pajama tops and glittery headdresses, the whole piece seemed to be a meditation on how inanimate objects come to animate our existence and our relationships.
The over-abundance of the stage was contrasted by the minimalist tone of the second - and my favorite - piece, "Transforming View" by the Korean duo Park Young-Cool and In Jung-Ju. Conceived in 2007, the act was a stunningly synchronized movement of two bodies pushing themselves to their absolute limits. Clad in all-white costumes on a stage with no props, the duo transfixed the audience's attention to only their movements by starting with a series of deliberate jumps that vibrated through the floors.
As their bodies started in perfect synchronicity and strayed from it with many repetitions, the dance was a reminder of the human yearning for the perfect symmetry and the absolute impossibility of it, as each repetition moved further and further away from it. But what made the piece so memorable was the dancers' ability to make me, the observer, recognize that the act of striving for that impossible ideal is a beauty in itself, as I witnessed each pant and each groan from the dancers with light-heartedness and joy.
The closing portion of the night was Tokyo dancer Maki Morishita's Koshitsu (Tokyo Flat). In Japanese, "Kohitsu" has a double signification, meaning both a "private bedroom" as well as "persistence" depending on the kanji script it's written in. From this word-play, Morishita's piece emerged as a whimsically postmodern commentary on heavily regimented modern lifestyles, and how those limitations and repetitions can create a surprising burst of creativity.
Opening with the cacophonous mix of Ella Fitzgerald and techno music, Morishita began dancing outside of the spotlight, then coming into the audience's view to deliberately delineate her "spotlight" space with a chalk. Morishita's use of space and props was the most unconventional and experimental of the night, as she was the only one to divide the expansive stage space (one of the deepest I had ever seen), as if to reflect the double entendre of the title of her piece. Incorporating mundane objects like a Kleenex box and a water bottle, she invoked her past life as a receptionist at an office who often had to battle the monotony of day with her own rhythm and dance.
Even though the inspiration and the origin of the dances were diverse, they weaved a common thread of human struggle - the struggle of letting ourselves and our things go, the struggle of having our bodies conform to the rhythm and the pace of our choice, and the struggle to keep our bodies alert through the restricted increments of time. For the hour and a half in the intimate space of the Tangente studio, the cultural and personal differences disappeared for a second to unite common struggles of humanity in the most unexpected and innovative way.Posted by Jocelyn Gan | May 31, 2011 | Comments (0)
In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, the Museum of Vancouver partners with the Chinese Canadian Historical Society to present Cedar and Bamboo, a special film screening with dialogue and discussion to follow. The film will be presented at the Museum of Vancouver on Thursday, May 26th from 6-9pm.
Cedar and Bamboo is a 2009 documentary, created by Diana Leung and Kamala Todd, which examines the complexities of intercultural relations, focusing on the stories of four people of mixed Chinese and Aboriginal backgrounds. Their stories reflect the importance that both cultural groups play in the history of BC, and the hardships they had to overcome that inevitably led to their crossing paths.
Following the screening, the filmmakers will join in discussion with scholars Jean Barman, Henry Yu and Ray Hsu.
Admission is free for CCHS and MOV members. Otherwise, tickets are $10 and include admission into the MOV's latest exhibit, Bhangra.me.
For more information, please visit museumofvancouver.ca.
African-American feminist writer Bell Hooks once declared that "Language is a place of struggle...Our struggle is that of memory against forgetting." Clearly, any member of an immigrant family can understand the importance that language has in preserving one's ties and connections to the traditions and culture of one's ancestors.
As the generations pass, and we become more assimilated into Canadian or Western culture, this struggle against forgetting becomes increasingly difficult, especially with regards to remembering a language versus English. But what has been overlooked in recent years has been the struggle of indigenous Aboriginal Canadians and the gradual decay of their own native languages, some of which, reportedly, have fewer than two living speakers.
To that end, the B.C. Miners Association, which for better or worse has played a large part in the encroaching of Canadian society on First Nations communities in British Columbia, has decided to contribute $125,000 to the First Nations Cultural Foundation, which aims to document and renew languages that are rapidly disappearing. The fact that the Mining Association operates in many of these same areas where languages are dying out is certainly one that has not been lost on the whole issue; however, their sizable donation will definitely help the Foundation's cause.
Foundation director Dan Smith made it clear, however, that they will likely require far more money to accomplish their goals of preserving Aboriginal cultures through language. Smith cites a drive to raise $9 million dollars will be required to adequately record and restore these languages, stating that, "once a language is lost, we will never be able to bring it back."
It is the Foundation's hope that all of the industries which have been active in the British Columbia rural areas, such as the fishing and forestry industries, will follow the example of the Mining Association and contribute in kind. As Smith notes: "There are 32 to 34 indigenous languages in B.C. Some are more endangered than others due to the size of the community itself. In some communities there is only one speaker left."
Posted by Justin Ko | May 30, 2011
| Comments (0)
As a Yonsei (4th Generation) Japanese Canadian, whose grandparents were ushered into internment camps at the height of their youth, I've heard the story of the Japanese Canadian Internment during World War II a thousand times over. While I feel for my grandparents, and the injustices they experienced during this time, I find myself increasingly detached from the story, as my brain overflows with dates, names, and numbers.
Yayoi Theatre Movement's latest production, Identity - Ancestral Memory, was a refreshing departure from the stories I've heard. Yayoi Hirano, Artistic Director for Yayoi Theatre Movement, presented an exploration of the Japanese Canadian identity through dance, theatre, video, slideshows, and recordings of recited poetry, while focusing on the life of celebrated Japanese Canadian artist, Roy Kiyooka. And while the Internment inevitably plays a key role in the production's storyline, this time it is not told through unemotional data, but rather through an exploration of the emotional turmoil and self-questioning Japanese Canadians experienced during this time. I found this take on the story refreshing, and felt it had a much more profound effect on myself, which stayed with me long after I left the Revue Stage.
Reading the program guide before the show got underway, I prepared myself for a serious, somber performance, with scenes titled "Hatred", "Questioning", and "Pain". However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hirano found ways to appropriately tuck in moments of humour, bringing lightness and positivity to a production that could very well have become dark and heavy.
My favourite part of the performance, aside from the sheer talent of the dancers, was the opening and closing video segments, where people on the street were asked "What is your identity?" The opening video presented answers from people on the streets of Tokyo. Almost all the answers were clear and decisive: "Japanese". Their clear idea of their identity seemed to juxtapose the questioning that Japanese Canadians experienced during the Internment. However, the Tokyoites are then asked to answer the question "What nationality would you like to be?" and it is with these answers that we realize the Japanese may not be so clear about their identity, as most wished to be something other than Japanese, from Swedish to French to American.
The concluding video posed the identity question to people on the streets of Vancouver, and the answers sharply contrasted those of the people of Tokyo. From Persian to German to Chinese to mixtures of everything in between, I found it interesting that many people did not answer with a simple "Canadian" but rather, they wanted to distinguish their unique cultural background.
By concluding with this video, I left the theatre with a positive feeling, knowing that now we recognize that Canadians come from a variety of backgrounds, and it is okay to be proud of where you are from. While during the war, Japanese Canadians may have tried to downplay their Japanese background, they can now feel free to share it with the world, loudly and proudly.Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | May 23, 2011 | Comments (0)
There are more foreign workers entering Canada today than there are immigrants. While the program is organized at the federal level, it is the city that shapes their day to day experiences. Under the temporary worker program, temporary foreign workers lack the same rights and benefits given to immigrants even though nearly 90% of workers have intentions of applying for permanent residency. They can face a range of issues including, finding accessible housing, experiencing workplace abuse and navigating paperwork.
For the first time, the City of Vancouver is hosting a film screening and dialogue to educate the public on temporary foreign workers. City councilors, community representatives, advocacy groups and the general public will be invited to watch, learn, and discuss some of these issues.
The event will be held at the Vancouver Public Library - Central location on May 28 from 3:30 - 5:00 PM. For more information, and to reserve your free ticket, visit tfwvancouver.eventbrite.com or visit the project's website at tfwvancouver.caPosted by Jocelyn Gan | May 18, 2011 | Comments (0)
Contrary to what we may have seen on TV last summer during the World Cup games in South Africa, there are still many parts of the country that remain under-developed and largely forgotten. In British photographer Simon Weller's new book, South African Township Barbershops & Salons, Weller features the unique and beautiful signage of local salons in townships which, for the most part, still suffer from the effects of apartheid and, even now, have been unable to develop.
By exploring community salons and barbershops' hair culture and sign paintings, Weller gives readers a glimpse of contemporary South African culture which is otherwise tucked away. Interviews with the salon owners, sign makers, and patrons allow a better understanding of South African township communities and their residents' resilience even in less than ideal living conditions.
The book is as much a collection of beautiful and inspiring photos as it is a celebration of the people's spirits and the local arts which thrives in the form of sign paintings. Much like graffiti and other forms of street art and low-brow art around the world, the salon decor (and even the hair styles portrayed) are equal parts mesmerizing and awe-inspiring, as well as loud and gaudy.
South African Township Barbershops & Salons can be bought online from Amazon for just $20.Posted by Adrian Bailon | May 26, 2011 | Comments (0)
The Powell Street Festival Society and Pacific Cinematheque proudly present Kibatsu Cinema, a collection of films that showcase the quirky, offbeat and kooky of Japanese pop culture and contemporary film.
Curated by Susanne Tabata, the third installment of Kibatsu Cinema, partnered with the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, presents a handful of eccentric and stylish films that explore the influence of many of Japan's vibrant subcultures, from manga and anime, to punk music, to the notorious world of the yakuza.
"Kibatsu", a Japanese word used to describe that which is unusual or unconventional, seems the perfect word to describe the films chosen to be part of Kibatsu Cinema, which will be presented at the Pacific Cinematheque from May 27-29th.
For more information on the series, or to read up on the selected films, check out the Pacific Cinematheque website.
Want to see the films, and better yet, see them for free?? Schema is giving away 3 pairs of tickets to any of the Kibatsu screenings! Just tell us which screening you would like to watch - here's how to reach us:
Contest is open until midnight PST, May 25, 2011!Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | May 17, 2011 | Comments (0)
Highlights from Klahowya Village 2010.
From May 16 to September 11, the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC and the Vancouver Park Board will transform Stanley Park into Klahowya Village, a vibrant cultural experience of song, dance, art and cuisine.
An abundance of Aboriginal activities and entertainment await at the village.
Visitors can visit artisans weaving and wood-carving on-site. Authentic Aboriginal arts and crafts will be available for purchase at Artisan Kiosks. Kids can try their hand at making Aboriginal crafts inside a 40-foot-tepee.
Next, have a taste of Aboriginal cuisine provided by Raven's Landing and listen to Aboriginal legends at the Story Telling Circle. Daily dance performances will occur at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Visitors can also hop on the Spirit Catcher Train, a 13-minute journey through the forest while listening to the story of "The Raven Stealing the Sun".
On weekends in August, Nation Days will recognize the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Each Nation will present performers, storytellers and artists on site during the weekend.
General admission to the Village is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and children. The Spirit Catcher Train ride is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children.
The Klahowya Village is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Spirit Catcher Train runs daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | May 18, 2011 | Comments (0)
On May 19, the eve of its 15th anniversary, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival partners with the Independent Film & Video Meetup Group to make film enthusiasts and aspiring professionals in the field an offer they can't refuse: SPEED DATE A FILM EXPERT! Here's the where, when, and what:
Date: May 19, 2011
Location: J Lounge, 1216 Bute Street, Vancouver, BC
The evening will start with an opportunity to speed date a film expert—director, writer, producer, make up, set designer, cinematographer, entertainment lawyer, etc.—and ask them everything you want in 3 minutes. Then, there will be an opportunity to mix and mingle with other independent filmmakers and VAFF supporters. The evening will be capped off with an amazing performance by Vancouver's own Aching Heart Foundation.
There will be a variety of door prizes and we expect a big turn out with our combined lists, so don't miss out on this event to help raise funds for both our organizations and celebrate the launch of the VAFF 2011 contest "Love Letters to Vancouver"!
RSVP on the Independent Film & Video Meetup Group's page and save $2 when purchasing tickets in advance!
Admission is $10 at the door and $8 in advance. Get your tickets at www.meetup.comPosted by Gayatri Bajpai | May 13, 2011 | Comments (0)
How do Hollywood movies become blockbusters?
Typically by having a couple of A-listers agree to star in the film, then adding a hot supporting cast, explosions, and fight scenes. Soon, you've got a major studio film people will pay $15 to see. If it features clips of scantily clad girls from said supporting cast, you'll get major DVD sales after.
The beautiful thing about Fast Five—what made it different from other box office hits—was the ethnically diverse cast. Justin Lin's film features stars like Dwayne Johnson, Sung Kang, Gisele Yashar, and Tyrese Gibson among others, which made a generic big-budget film special.
Though we've seen diverse casts in Hollywood blockbusters before, race usually plays a role in their characters' stories. They are either playing up stereotypes or setting out to shatter them.
In Fast Five, the cast featured actors all across the ethnic spectrum, but never did ethnicity dictate how each character acted or their story played out. For instance, the film had no "I'm black, you're white" jokes, or "Asians do this" lines between the characters. A rarity in Hollywood films ... they were all portrayed as very normal people (except for the fact that their job involved robbing a police station).
The beautiful thing about the cast—what made them special—was their chemistry. The story in Fast Five didn't make much sense, but the actors seemed very comfortable in their roles on screen. It wasn't as if any of the character's shattered stereotypes like in Crash (2004). That wasn't what Fast Five set out to accomplish, and it wasn't the main reason viewers went to buy tickets. What Fast Five's story did accomplish was a portrayal of a team of nine ethnically diverse characters as having personalities independent from their race. In fact, the movie omitted any reference to race between the characters.
The cast worked well together, both on screen as actors and in the story as characters. Now that makes for a beautiful box office hit.
To celebrate the completion of a Student Directed Seminar at UBC on multiculturalism and identity in Canada, two of my co-coordinators and I went on to a trip to Montreal. Even when there are no more classes to facilitate, the three of us kept talking about multiculturalism in Vancouver and Montreal. During our trip, we had an opportunity to meet Janet Lumb, the director of the Accès Asie festival, through Alden Habacon, the director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development at UBC, who inspired our seminar as a guest speaker. From the moment we met Janet, I was struck by the burst of energy at the heart of the festival.
May in Montreal is the month to celebrate Asian heritage and to foster the culture of inclusive diversity. Accès Asie marks its 16th anniversary this year, making it the oldest festival in Canada that features Asian heritage. In the opening speech, the Honorable Senator Vivienne Poy announced that "Asian Canadians and Canadians are getting together to celebrate this month...[Festival Accès Asie shows the] interdisciplinary focus of Montreal...[through] creative collaboration."
Coming from Vancouver where there is a distinct presence of Asia in the city, both in terms of culture and demographics, my trip companions and I realized how the concept of "Asia" is almost naturalized in Vancouver, whereas in Montreal it was intriguing to see how it is framed with special attention as an annual celebration.
On May 6, we went to see the very first event of the month, titled Cocktail d' ouverture du Festival Accès Asie, which featured paintings by Nie Jian Bing and Michel Beaucage. While observing their colourful abstract artworks, I asked one of the receptionists if they could help me better understand their art. Her response was that "[In the end], you just have to feel it."
True, I thought. That is what makes art special - you don't have to rely on the languages to appreciate it. As I walked around the gallery I asked some people what brought them to the exhibition. Some said it is their first time at Accès Asie. I asked them what inspired them to do so, and they said, "Our friends brought us here." Like how we were able to connect with Janet through Alden, I find it exciting to meet new people and their worlds through people you know.
I believe there is something about art that transcends the boundaries that we are accustomed to on a daily basis. It is interesting that while culturally themed artworks, or performances can bring people together regardless of their backgrounds, the creation has a life on its own because it is based on the artist's connection to their cultural backgrounds. In other words, the assertion of cultural identity in art does not necessarily create an exclusive space, but rather the expressive nature of art creates an inclusive space where people from diverse backgrounds can come together to share their feelings and thoughts on the piece.
Merci beaucoup, Montreal! We left the city feeling full, both mentally and physically.
For more information on Festival Accès Asie, please visit the website at AccesAsie.com
Sex sells. Did you click on this link because of its unconventional title?
Last December, Craigslist pulled its 'erotic services' section out of Canada after many critics and organizations called for its removal. Craigslist has been cited in several sex-slavery cases across Canada in which victims have been posted for sale at hourly, or half-hourly rates. The first Canadian human trafficking conviction involved two girls who were advertised on Craigslist. Both victims were seventeen and fourteen respectively, and were forced to have sex with 10-15 men daily.
The complexities of sex trafficking are never-ending, and the legislation in Canada does not persecute offenders strongly enough. Perpetrators get off with a mere slap to the wrist.
Rachel Llyod, the founder and director of the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEM), an organization that helps teenagers whose sexuality has been exploited for commercial gain, is releasing "Girls Like Us," a passionate memoir cross reportage on the sex trade. Llyod offers a critique to a free market society where absolutely everything is for sale.
Llyod also delves into the race and class factors affecting prostitution. Black and Latina girls with whom Llyod has worked with are thought to have chosen their life. In the legal system, they are referred to as young adults, even when they are under 15. The police dismiss their rapes under the guise of "theft of services." Federal American law states that anyone under the age of 18 who is sold as a victim of trafficking need not prove their case. However, if the girl is an American and of color, she will most likely be charged with prostitution and jail. The politics of sex trafficking are much more complicated than what is seen on the surface.
In New York, girls under seventeen are too young to consent to sex, but they are regularly charged with sex crimes. The paradox led to the creation of the Safe Harbor Act in New York, a bill mandating that underage persons involved in the sex industry not be charged.
In an excerpt from Llyod's book, she notes the lack of media attention on missing girls and women:
It makes a difference in whether your disappearance gets copters and dogs or flyers. It makes a difference in how you're treated by a jury of "your peers." It makes a difference in whether your family members are believed or taken seriously. In over a decade of working with thousands of girls, most of whom have been missing at some point, many of whom were literally kidnapped and held by force, I have never seen a GEMS case that has gotten an Amber Alert.
As summer vacation is dawning upon us, perhaps it's time to rise to Llyod's challenge in "Girls Like Us" - and to liberate girls from sexual exploitation.
This past weekend, the Accès Asie festival officially kicked off to a packed house at the Maison de la Culture Plateau-Mont-Royal, with the opening reception of a new art exhibition "Rencontres: zishi" featuring Nie Jian Bing and Michel Beaucage.
Upon immediate viewing, the two artists' works do not seem to be related to each other at all. Beaucage's work was all abstract lines and colours splashed onto a page, doing their best to embody the concept of "contained chaos"; in contrast, Bing's work, featured celebrity faces like Lady Gaga, John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe, with Chinese characters and points to indicate their "vital points" according to an ancient Chinese book.
Upon closer reflection, the common thread of blurring the boundaries emerges - for Beaucage, this happens literally as his paintings feature abstract figures, shapes and splashes over already painted lines and shapes. In Nie's paintings, the blurring occurs in a more temporal sense, as he inscribes ancient Chinese knowledge over the portraits of contemporary figures.
Among the esteemed guests of the evening was the Honourable Vivienne Poy, the first Asian Senator in Canada who first proposed establishing Canada's Asian Heritage Month in 2001. Poy gave a short welcome speech, alternating in English and French, expressing congratulations to the festival organizers and regret that she could not attend many of the events in Montreal.
Veteran musician Chin-Lin Leu also provided musical entertainment for the evening on the Guzheng, the 12-string Chinese zither. She first opened with a traditional piece called "High Mountain & Flowing Water" then followed up with her own improvised piece, keeping up with the evening's theme of merging the traditional and the new. The audience, buzzing with conversation, had a difficult time quieting down and had to be shushed by both the festival organizers and other spectators multiple times.
The excitement of Friday night was contrasted with the more intimate nature of Saturday's festival event, "Flavours of India," an intimate gathering of about 25 people at the downtown restaurant Buffet Maharaja.
The restaurant owners, Mr. and Mrs. Khan, shared their insight on Indian cooking with the audience. Mr. Khan opened his address with the ominous warning that "Indian cooking is art, and it takes a lot of time." Like many traditional cuisines, Mr. and Mrs. Khan's cooking expertise came through hours of observing their parents and experiments on their own.
Even though I eat Indian food frequently, the session taught me a few new tidbits about Indian culinary terms; for example, anything tandoori means "dry" and curry means any dish in a sauce. Mr. Khan added that in certain Caribbean countries, "curry" is used to refer to the spices that make up the sauce, but not in India. The typical spiciness we associate with Indian food came from a necessity to preserve foods for a long time in the hot climate, Mr. Khan explained.
Mr. Khan was also kind enough to show the audience members the various ingredients that mingle together to make a pot of chai tea, as well as the clay oven where the naan breads are made daily. I was struck by how fast the whole process took - after sticking a lump of dough inside the oven, the bread is done baking in about a minute. Part of me also wished that the audience could've taken on a more interactive role in creating the chai and naan - whether it was kneading a pre-made dough, or mixing the chai ingredients to find our own unique flavour.
The highlight of the afternoon was the Kathak dance performance by Sudeshna Maulik, accompanied by tabla player Shawn Mativetsky. With her graceful and controlled movements, Maulik's performance was breathtaking in its execution. After the performance, guests had the opportunity to discuss what they learned and saw with Indian appetizers (including chicken tikka, samosas, and onion bhaji), dessert, and chai tea provided by Buffet Maharaja. Like the festival's promise of showcasing tradition alongside the new, the discussion of India's rich history of cuisine and dance came alive with live demonstrations and performance.
The festival continues next weekend with author/scenographer Helen Yung's new technology installation, "Gulliver's Travels" at OBORO, and a national video conference of different Asian Heritage Month organizations in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto at Ex-Centris.
For more information about Accès Asie, please visit the festival website.Posted by Jordana Mah | May 11, 2011 | Comments (0)
Asian identities have been receiving some spotlight recently - from Amy Chua's Tiger Moms to former UCLA student Alexandra Wallace complaining about the "Asians in the Library."
As Asian Canadians, we now have the chance to express our thoughts and criticisms. The Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) is hosting its first essay/video contest, "Who's 'Asian?'" and would like to pose the question to Asian Canadians everywhere:
How have Asians been portrayed in the media, and how does this affect your conception of what it means to be Asian in Canada?
CCNCTO is accepting submissions in 3 categories:
Video submissions must be 5 minutes or less. Written submissions must be 1,000 words in English or less, or 2,500 Chinese characters or less.
Prizes for the contest include cash ($300), passes to the 2011 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, and more. The best English essays will also be featured on the Ricepaper magazine website and/or
For more information on the contest, please visit the CCNCTO's website.Posted by Jordana Mah | May 11, 2011 | Comments (0)
From its beginnings in Vancouver in 2007, to Toronto in 2010, and now Montreal, the Maleta Art Exhibit's migration almost perfectly mimics the migration of the fictional Maleta family that is highlighted in the exhibit itself.
'Maleta' is the Tagalog word for 'suitcase', and in the Maleta Art Exhibit, a community-based arts project, each of the five suitcases in this exhibit are painted as a member of the fictional Filipino Canadian Maleta family. The painted suitcases are meant to portray the Filipino Canadian community's ongoing story of migration and of the community's determination to succeed and flourish in Canadian society.
Through the depiction of the Maleta family's varying shades and hues, viewers are revealed to the unique struggles of Filipino women, workers, and youth as they settle into Canada and, in time, become valuable contributors to their new communities. "During the exhibit," Julay Nieto, chairperson of Philippine Women Centre of Quebec, explained, "the Maleta family truly stood out. They hit audiences with a dose of reality that cannot be denied. The creative assertion of our empowerment is key if we want to paint a new future as a community."
The Maleta Art Exhibit is currently hosted at Galerie 3755, at the Jewish General Hospital's biannual staff art exhibit, in Montreal until July 13, 2011. For more information, contact Julay Nieto at Kapit bisig Centre.Posted by Adrian Bailon | May 12, 2011 | Comments (0)
Arranged marriages are a thing of the past, right? Not for Harry, a cynical 22-year-old bachelor in New York City. In the movie "When Harry Tries to Marry", Harry (played by Rahul Rai) is determined to enter into an arranged marriage to avoid becoming a divorce statistic. After all, arranged marriages have a much lower rate of divorce.
With help from his match-making uncle, Harry gets set up with a lovely girl from India. Meanwhile, Harry's budding friendship with an American woman named Theresa (Stefanie Estes) makes him question whether his quest is right after all.
So many questions arise from this movie. What makes a marriage work? Why do arranged marriages, which sometimes involve two parties unknown to each other, have a higher chance of lasting forever? Does the length of a marriage determine the success of a marriage? How does cultural identity affect marriage and love?
When Harry Tries to Marry won Audience Award for Best Film, Best Crossover Film and Best New Talent at the London Asian Film Festival in March 2011. The move has been released in New York, but Canadian audiences will have to wait to see this film!Posted by Vinnie Yuen | May 17, 2011 | Comments (0)
The movie Fast Five, the latest installment of the Fast and Furious series, has broken box office records for the month of April by raking in an astonishing $168 million dollars in its opening weekend. These sorts of numbers are unprecedented for a release outside the typical summer blockbuster season. By all accounts, the film itself, despite being obviously well received, doesn't really push any creative boundaries in the action genre.
But the fact that the director, Justin Lin, is an Asian-American, has not been lost on many Asian-Americans who have been clamoring for more Asian representation in Hollywood for decades. Of course, Justin Lin had previously directed the third installment of the series, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, so it's not like he was coming out of nowhere. However, the success of Fast Five to date has already eclipsed the total box office of Tokyo Drift, and it promises to continue its momentum well into the summer season.
The ethnic blog You Offend Me, You Offend My Family has definitely taken notice of Lin's key role in Fast Five. In fact, blogger Philip goes on to make the claim that "it might just be the most exciting time to be an Asian American in this crazy business," citing the success of Far East Movement for instance on the Billboard charts, and the proliferation of Asian bloggers on YouTube such as KevJumba and NigaHiga. You can check out the article, "What Does the Success of Fast Five Mean for Asian-Americans?" here.
So what's my take on all of this? Well, I think Philip's got a point in that there definitely have been more Asian-Americans in mainstream media over the past few years, and as an Asian (and fellow Justin) I applaud Justin Lin for his efforts. But I think we've got to remember that when people think of Fast Five, they think of Vin Diesell, or the Rock, or a Ford GT40. They don't think of the director, much less the fact that he is an Asian-American. And the same can be said of FM, to an extent; when you think of their songs, you think of partying, or of Bruno Mars, or G6's. Not necessarily of the Asian-American experience in a way that is different from anyone else.
The Asians on YouTube are of course a huge exception; being Asian is a big part of their comedy act. But those online celebrities have thus far been unable to convert their online success to the more mainstream mediums of film and music. So, although Justin Lin and FM are raking in the cash, and I am happy for them, my opinion is that their success does not radically change the way Asians are portrayed by the mainstream media. We need to see an Asian-American actor or musical act who can convey the unique Asian-American experience, which people like Peter Chao have been able to make into hilarious self-parodies. To me, that couldn't come fast enough.Posted by Justin Ko | May 12, 2011 | Comments (0)
Montrealers can enjoy Asian Heritage Month to the fullest with the 16th installment of the Accès-Asie Festival "Muses Amuse". Over 25 international and local artists will represent seven multidisciplinary arts programmes happening throughout the month.
Accès Asie started in 1995, when two community activists and artists came together. Inspired by the Asian Heritage Month that began in the United States in 1976, the festival organizers wanted to celebrate artists of Asian heritage in Canada.
"The initiative was based on the fact that a lot of Asian artists, who are locally in Montreal or Canada and are incredibly talented ... [are] not known by the dominant society at large," said Janet Lumb, one of the co-founders of the festival.
Lumb explained that Accès Asie's real intent is to "fight racism" through the arts. Aside from organizing the main festival, Accès Asie also helps artists put together press kits to gain performance opportunities in various cultural outlets in Montreal, including the Maisons de la Cultures in many neighbourhoods of Montreal.
This year's festival boasts a more international lineup than previous years, with diverse and dynamic activities, bringing together artistic, religious, and culinary aspects of various Asian cultures. The international perspectives will come together during a weekend of "International Dance Performance" featuring dancers and choreographers from Montreal, Tokyo and Seoul, as well as a screening and discussion of Iranian films.
The 2011 festival will end on a more sombre note than usual, with the "Sacred Arts" meditation sessions (in collaboration with Le Gésu) led by Tibetan monks; all proceeds from the sessions will be donated to rebuilding a Tibetan temple destroyed in 1959. Other highlights include "Flavours of India & Performance", where participants can enjoy chai tea and naan bread, while watching a Kathak dance performance at the Buffet Maharaja restaurant.
Accès Asie Festival begins on May 6th, with an opening reception at the Maison de la Culture Plateau-Mont-Royal. For more information about the festival, check out the Accès Asie website, or the festival schedule. Schema will be reviewing the events from the festival throughout the month—stay tuned for updates!Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | May 6, 2011 | Comments (0)
Master musician Kevin Olusola has a distinctive style of music involving conventional jazz, classical music, and hip hop, but with his own personal touch—beatboxing. Kevin's an incredible cellist, saxophonist, and composer.
He has been a talented musician since his childhood. He's held principal positions in the United States Wind Band, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and the Kentucky All-State Orchestra. He's opened for Drake, he's performed for United States embassy officials, and he's even appeared on NBC's Today Show.
As Kevin's citation for his Joseph Lentilhon Selden Memorial Award reads, Kevin's "music sparkles with creativity and exuberance"—it brings "smiles of delight" to his listeners. Kevin is living proof that it is possible for people to unite their musical interests with regular, everyday instruments to produce new, groundbreaking music. Kevin has a long list of achievements at both the national and international level, but is only in his mid-20s. Imagine what he'll do next!
Have a look at Kevin's amazing hip-hop cello rendition. It won't be the last you hear of him.Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | May 6, 2011 | Comments (0)
Photo credit: Maurice Li
The Museum of Vancouver will be exhibiting Bhangra.me: Vancouver's Bhangra Story from May 5 to October 23, 2011. Bhangra.me tells the story of Vancouver's South Asian community through the lens of Bhangra dance and music, linking Bhangra with issues of identity, politics, diaspora and life in Vancouver.
Bhangra is more than just a colourful ethnic dance limited to the South Asian community.
"Bhangra—and by extension the greater story of South Asians in Vancouver—is deeply intertwined with Vancouver's own story," says MOV guest curator and cultural researcher, Naveen Girn. "Bhangra dancers performed at the Montreal Olympics, Expo 86, and Spokane World's Fair, as well as Vancouver's own 2010 Olympics."
Co-curator and researcher Naveen Girn spent one year interviewing over 55 people, filming over 100 hours of documentary footage, and uncovering never-before-seen photographs, video, news articles, and stories.
The exhibit will discuss themes such as:
The exhibit will also feature costumes and instruments from performances over the past four decades.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | May 9, 2011 | Comments (0)
Regent Park, a diverse downtown neighborhood in Toronto, is also one of the largest low-incoming housing communities in Canada. Populated predominantly by new immigrants and Aboriginal Peoples, most of the homes are social housing, and the average income of residents is about half the average of other Torontonians.
Interestingly, a community whose residents face the greatest social and economic barriers, also happens to host one of the most accessible cultural events Toronto has to offer.
The Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF) is Toronto's only free-of-charge film festival dedicated to showcasing multicultural works relevant to the residents living in the community.
The festival features independent films of all lengths and genres in their original languages (subtitled in English), with topics pertinent to various Regent Park communities. Issues such as urbanization, community activism, immigrant experiences, inner-city issues, cultural identity and multicultural relationships are showcased prominently. In addition, the festival provides programming for students in Grades 1 to 8 that addresses themes of difference, racial diversity, bullying, gender identity, poverty, health and other issues relevant to youth.
Regent Park residents are encouraged to create media works, through free professional training workshops, and engage in debates through panel discussions. Annually, films made by residents are highlighted in the Family Program and Community Stories: Youth Media Art Program on Opening Night - events supporting self-representation and engaging dialogue with guest youth filmmakers from other parts of the world.
This year, the festival is placing particular emphasis on fictional features and short length films from the Asian and African Diaspora. All activities, as well as childcare, are free-of-charge and artists' fees are covered.
The festival accepts films of all lengths and genres.
For more information on submissions, please visit RegentParkFilmFestival.com. Filmmakers are able to submit online, and there is no entry fee.
Extended Deadline: Friday, May 20, 2011Posted by Manori Ravindran | May 10, 2011 | Comments (0)
Last year, the world watched as the FIFA World Cup ran its course in South Africa. Matches were held at various venues in Cape Town. Now, the city's fashion scene deserves the the spotlight. "Cinder and Skylark" is a street fashion blog that chronicles the sartorial choices of stylish Cape Town people.
The popularity of New York's "The Sartorialist" blog and "Street Peeper", a global fashion blog, proves that photos of everyday citizens can be much more inspirational than the glossy photoshopped images in magazines. The unique outfits seen in street fashion blogs collectively form a lovely portrait of a particular city's style scene. Street fashion photographers roam their cities and approach strangers for permission to take their pictures. The resulting images are a city's fashion diary.
Michelle Oberholzer, the woman behind "Cinder and Skylark", said, in an Elle magazine interview, "[w]e have an amazing way of interpreting international trends, but keeping our style fresh and uniquely South African."Posted by Kathy Ko | May 4, 2011 | Comments (0)
Maria Kari is a freelance journalist and writer based in Vancouver. She has previously blogged for The Nation. You can follow her musings on South Asian and Middle Eastern politics, portrayals of Islam in the West and the occasional preoccupation with pop culture faddism on Twitter @mariakari1414. This piece is originally titled "Musings from a Pacifist":
A couple of hours ago I received a BBM that appeared to read "Obama killed in Islo". Confused (What would Barack Obama be doing in "Islo" aka Islamabad, Pakistan), slightly freaked out (I am a pacifist, after all) and extremely blurry in vision (from laser eye surgery from a few days ago) I struggled to re-read.
I had misread.
The BBM message actually read OSAMA. Within seconds of having paused the Hindi movie I'd been watching & getting on to Twitter (what all good writers/journalists do when looking to keep up with breaking news and current events) it was confirmed that Osama Bin Laden had in fact been killed in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan.
As we all tuned in to watch President Obama give a live, dramatic address to confirm Bin Laden's death, for many Muslims the world over, including myself, it was a charged and emotional moment.
As a Pakistani-Canadian female with roots heavily embedded in my cultural and religious heritage, many questions permeated the silence in my living room. What was Pakistan's role in all of this? Will the President differentiate between fundamentalist Islam and the religion of Islam that I adhere to (he did)? Was there collateral damage? Will I get through airport security more easily now? Why does Obama pronounce Pakistan more correctly than most of my Pakistani friends?
Even though I anticipate answers and clarity in the upcoming hours and days there are some things of which I am certain of.
To echo the sentiments expressed by the Council of American-Islamic Relations, the elimination of Bin Laden as a threat to American and global security is welcome news. And now that the world's most prolonged game of hide and seek has come to a close - albeit after nearly ten years, billions of dollars and millions of lives lost - many of us tonight might finally dare to hope and dream for some semblance of peace.
And as I watch two all American, twenty-something, Caucasian males fist pump and chest bump one another outside the White House lawns in celebration, I hope and pray that we are on the road to changing this past decade's master narrative of the global war on terror.
In his address tonight President Obama reminded us of the grief and horror brought upon by 9/11. He echoed the need for unity and resilience as a nation.
Yet even though we find relief in the taking down of a murderer today let us not forget that much remains to be said and done in the name of peace and stability the world over. Our thoughts, dua'as and solidarity continue with our brothers and sisters fighting for their universal human rights in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria.Posted by Beth Hong | May 2, 2011 |
This Tuesday, May 3 at 8pm, taiko and electronic music come together in an unlikely pairing as Vancouver New Music brings a special collaborative presentation, Taikotroniks, to the Vancouver Playhouse.
While the Taiko community in Vancouver is well-established and historically significant, Vancouver's electronic scene is one that began to emerge in more recent years. Taikotroniks will showcase seven Vancouver-based Taiko groups, as well as a special improvisational piece featuring taiko and the newly formed Vancouver Electronic Ensemble.
Tickets are available at the door, or through Tickets Tonight. You can also call 604.684.2787.
Be sure to check out Vancouver New Music for more information on this unique event!Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | May 2, 2011 | Comments (0)
Catastrophic natural disasters seem to have been striking more and more frequently of late. This unfortunate reality has put society on edge. That Which Once Was, a short film directed by award-winning filmmaker Kimi Takesue, delves into this frightening theme and explores questions that most of us may have, but are too afraid to ask. The film specifically examines how communities are affected by such disasters and how children respond and cope with the effects.
Channel APA provides a short synopsis of the film:
In the year 2032, Vicente, an 8-year-old Caribbean boy, has been displaced by global warming and fends for himself as an environmental refugee in a hostile Northern metropolis. Orphaned and without connection to family or friends, Vicente now lives in a children's shelter on the fringes of the city, and struggles with anxiety, rage, and disturbing memories of the tragedy he fled. On a hot summer day, Vicente sits outside the shelter and sees a mysterious man smashing large chunks of ice against the pavement. Thus begins an unexpected friendship between Vicente and Siku, the ice carver: two people from different worlds who have both experienced tremendous loss. Through their bond, Siku ultimately helps Vicente confront his past and understand the value of memory.
That Which Once Was is presented as part of the second season of Futurestates, a series that explores what the world may look like decades from now through a collection of ten fictional short films. These shorts "explore possible future scenarios through the lens of today's global realities." For more information on the series, visit the Futurestates Website.Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | May 1, 2011 | Comments (0)
Avneet Johal, the organizer of the Miles for Mental Health Run and Walk, talked to Schema Magazine about the stigmatization of mental illness in Canada (You can read the interview: "Avneet Johal: Coming Out of the Mental Illness Closet"). It became apparent just how widespread mental illness is, how stigmatized, and yet how much easier it would be to alleviate if the public united against misconceptions. Miles for Mental Health, presented by Douglas College, is a project of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Simon Fraser Branch set to take place on the 7th of May in New Westminster.
Avneet pointed out that 1 in 5 Canadians suffers from a mental illness. In the event that you are not directly concerned with someone who suffers from mental illness, you might think about an economic angle: the burden on the taxpayer that could be averted. Society can take preventive measures by helping those in need before it comes to hospitalization, the leading cause of which is mental illness, for people between the ages of 20 and 44. And yet in a lot of communities it is seen as made up.
CMHA SFU hopes to get people out of their homes and into the streets of New West to walk (run, roll) for positive mental health.
"There's a need to raise awareness of positive mental health and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. The work that we do is often one-on-one, it's often behind closed doors, and so we don't have much visibility. Yet for the people that we work with, the possibility of us not being there is not something that they would like to think about because we provide an enormous amount of support.
The Miles for Mental Health Run and Walk is 5 km (or 2.5 km) long. It's taking place this year May the 7th, 2011, in New Westminster at Queen's Park. There's a website: mentalhealthrun.ca. Registration is open, people can register or they can donate as well if they can't make it to the event. Make a statement collectively, and run for positive mental health. Strong communities that are well-knit lend themselves to stronger towns, cities, provinces, and ultimately a nation."
Avneet genuinely believes that a strong focus on mental health is a strong focus on our economy, and a strong focus on building the country.
At cmha.simonfraser.bc.ca you can check out some of the success stories of the branch.Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | May 5, 2011 | Comments (0)
This mother's day, you could give life to someone else. Register to become a stem cell donor at the second annual "Thanks Mom" stem cell awareness campaign on Saturday, May 7th at Metropolis at Metrotown Burnaby.
Mothers give us life, and Stem Cell transplants allow us to help preserve that gift. You can register to be part of the OneMatch stem cell registry with a simple medical questionnaire and a cheek swab.
Stem cell transplants are used to treat potentially life-threatening illnesses including cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma; genetic disorders; and diseases such as aplastic anemia and immune dysfunction.
Patients cannot receive stem cells from just anyone; they must be matched with donors with stem cells containing similar markers to their own. Generally, only 30 per cent of patients will find a matching donor within their own family, meaning 70 per cent of patients rely on anonymous donors to save their lives.
Vancouver Lower Mainland is a perfect place to seek donors because of its multiracial population, which includes a higher percentage of biracial people and visible minorities. The OneMatch registry in Canada is currently 85% registrants of white European ancestry, so people of different ethnic backgrounds may have a much lower chance of finding a successful match.
The area also has a great young population and the ideal stem cell donor is under 30 years old (but up to 50 years old is acceptable).
Here is a video of Russell Peters from 2007, encouraging people of Indian descent to become donors for Vinay Chakravarthy. Vinay was not successful in finding a match and died in June 2008.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | May 4, 2011 | Comments (0)
"I will refer to the burqa interchangeably with any full face veil during this talk. It is much more than a medieval garb. There is motive behind it..."
Farzana Hassan opened up a controversial topic in Canada and the international community when she delivered a thought-provoking lecture as part of the annual UBC-Laurier Multiculturalism Lecture at the University of British Columbia.
Should the burqa and full-face veils be banned in Canada? Hassan, the past-President of the Secular Muslim Congress (MCC) believes so. The MCC's purpose is to promote full equality of Muslim women and secular governments. In 2006, the organization began to discuss the place of the burqa in the 21st Century, and in particular, Canada.
In her lecture, Hassan describes several issues around the issue of a burqa ban including the constitution of a burqa ban, religious freedoms, threat to security, patriarchal control, women's choices and the overall safety of burqa-wearing women.
And what about feminism?
Hassan asserts that post-modern feminists who align with the school of thought that women should have the right to wear full-face veils if they wish are backward in their thinking. However, a handful of white feminists in the audience were staunchly opposed to the idea of full-face veils and supported Hassan's belief that the burqa has no place on Canadian soil.
According to Hassan's research, the full veil was imposed on women gradually. In the early periods, women had considerable freedom to wear anything. Her theory is that the garb is pre-Islamic (rooted in Pagan culture) and that Islam may have just picked it up as a cultural symbol. It was not until advent of Syrian Law (2nd Millenium - Late) that high status women had to veil. Harlots and slaves were forbidden to veil and were severely punished if they did. However, high status women did have exclusive divorce rights and access to education unlike their many other counterparts during that era. Eventually, all women were seen as temptresses who had to be restricted, reflecting medieval ideas on the status of women. Consequently, Islamic law in Italy dictated that all women must be veiled. What once belonged to aristocracy became the norm. In Hassan's argument: "Islamic veiling is only tradition, and not religion."
Worldwide, there is no consensus on the burqa by scholars. Hassan says, "Nowhere in Islamic world has Islam decided that the full-face veil is mandatory. Although there is orthodoxy on the hijab, no orthodox scholar except for one feels that the face veil is necessary."
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms promises:
A) Freedom of Consensus and Religion
B) Freedom of Thought and Press
C) Peaceful Assembly
Despite this, Hassan is absolute on her terms that the separation of religion and state is necessary. According to Hassan, the full face-veil is a "conditioned reaction" that happens within a patriarchal society. "Is it a feminist choice to choose a practice steeped in patriarchy?" she asked the audience.
Although the cause that Hassan is attempting to undertake is admirable, she should take a step back and approach the controversial subject with an mind open to Muslim concerns. When dealing with religious freedoms and beliefs, there is not always one correct and absolute solution.
During the question and answer period, Hassan and a BC Muslim Association Representative clashed on Hassan's statement. The Representative opened with, "I am very insulted by your statements. I am wearing the hijab out of my own choice. You have stated that the hijab is an objectionable garb, and I want you to know that I wear it out of my own choice. My husband and son have not forced me to wear this. I don't think that you have done your homework on the Qu'ran and I challenge you to sit down with me to discuss this."
Posted by Michelle Pham | May 2, 2011 | Comments (0)
As part of Asian Heritage Month and an explorASIAN festival event, a fund-raising dinner and concert will be held on May 6th in honor of the 89-year old Vancouver musician and impresario Harry Aoki, at St. John's College near UBC.
If you're wondering how Harry can still keep going strong as a musician after all these years, perhaps Harry can answer that question best in his own words: "Here I am, at 89, playing the Mozart oboe quartet on my harmonica. Living in the creative art- with no compromise! It feels great!"
The event will begin with a reception and silent auction, followed by a gourmet dinner and, of course, a concert, featuring everything from jazz and classical to Japanese and African traditional genres.
Proceeds from the event will towards the Aoki Legacy Fund, which is committed to promoting dialogue between the various ethnic cultures through intercultural music. Also, portions of the proceeds will go towards relief for the Japanese earthquake.
Tickets are priced at $75, and include the food and musical performances, as well as a donation to the Legacy Fund. They are available now and can be reserved through the Facebook "First Friday Forum" group or through the Greater Vancouver JCCA at 604 777 5222.Posted by Justin Ko | May 2, 2011 | Comments (0)
One cannot say that Hrissa Soumpassis' success is not hard earned. This Blanche Madonald graduate's impressive resume includes managing and design assisting at Bisou Bridal, Obakki and Lotuswear . Even while on vacations she was on the job, taking the chance to learn the ancient traditions of silk farms and hand-dying fabrics while traveling through Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. All this hard work and dedication paid off as her clothing was in high demand in Copenhagen where she jointly sewed and cut fabric alongside other Danish designers at a boutique.
Soon after, she launched her own line, elika designs and sold her clothing at Portobello West Market, which proved to be a great decision as her client base and buzz quickly grew.
Soumpassis' work is strongly influenced by designer Hussein Chalayan, who she cites as one of her fashion inspirations. Chalayan is known for his mind-blowing fashion masterpieces that include dresses that transform into furniture. This element of surprise is also found in elika designs as some dresses can be worn either long or short - made possible by hidden elastics. Fabric located at the hem of a dress can also be folded over to enable unrestricted movement for riding bicycles.
Elika designs has been featured within the pages of Elle, Fashion and Gloss magazines as well as The Georgia Straight newspaper. The fashion line is available at Gentille Alouette, Hum Clothing, The Velvet Room, Dream, Little Dream and online.
High-brow performance met street culture as world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma collaborated with Los Angeles-based dancer Charles Riley a.k.a. Lil' Buck for a presentation of "The Dying Swan." The performance pairs Ma's expressive, emotionally-wrenching bow strokes with Riley's fluid, surreal body movements.
The show, presented by L.A.'s Inner City Arts to over a hundred grade school students, highlighted the need for more government-sponsored art programs in schools. Quoted on "Colorlines", Ma stressed the importance of the arts to society, explaining that "the best way to build innovation and creative imagination—and the most efficient way to do it—is actually by movement, visualizing, sound."
The way in which Riley, a twenty-two year old dancer who is the 2011 Vail International Dance Festival's Artist-in-Residence, contorts his body to Ma's melancholy melody is something I have never seen before. Apparently Riley's contorted body movements are known as "jookin'", a dance style that sprang from his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.
As another special treat, the students received a private lesson from Riley himself on the art of moonwalking a-la-Michael Jackson, while Ma set the mood with a little tune known as "Billie Jean." Now, where was I for this?!
Check out the video below to see the full performance.Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | May 9, 2011 | Comments (0)