Asian Americans are making media. Some of it addresses the changing meanings of being American. Some of it breaks down the rules of form and the conventions of decorum and taste. And some of it is really, really good.
People of Asian descent all over the world are making media. Some of it is hailed as among the most important documents of our time.
Because of stasis, bias, and risk aversion, film and TV programming in the U.S. has opted to stick to the stories and skin colors they know best, meaning these innovative works will never be seen stateside. But Asian and Asian American artists deserve better. So does the audience.
For decades now, the Asian American community has argued for better representation in the mainstream media. That struggle continues, and for good reason. In the meantime, we should not forget about the representation of independent works by Asians and Asian Americans in alternative spaces like film festivals, galleries, the digital arena, and even in the streets. The goal should not simply be to usher Asian American faces onto ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. It should also be to provide a platform for voices too loud or too quiet for the airwaves, too dangerous for TV, too complex for the megaplex. Representation should not be limited to the mainstream.
We understand that part of the problem is contextualization. The need to provide program notes, Q&As, introductions, and discussions for unconventional films and videos means it’s easier to show a Hollywood-styled romantic comedy or a “universal” action film – even ones with Asian faces – that doesn’t require extra work for the programmers or the audience. But that’s when the unfamiliar gets discarded as too artsy or too foreign, even though they are voices from our own community.
Pacific Arts Movement is committed to making the unfamiliar a part of our lives. We’ve assembled a team of knowledgeable, smack-talkin’, whisky-pounding curators who brave the unknown and bring it to San Diego to strengthen, educate, inspire, challenge, and transform audiences who want to take the journey with us. That means being innovative about exhibition. Our goal isn’t simply to hit “play” and let a great film do its magic. We want to ask questions of the audience and have the audience ask questions of us and the artists.
The festival glitz and prestige? That’s there to shine a spotlight on the stories, to put the conversations on a stage so the community, the region, and the nation know they’re vital. Asian American artists don’t need a stage to thrive, but if they’re going to bring it, so will we. That’s our commitment at Pac Arts.