Why a crane? by Sue-Je Gage

Crane

Katie Quan created the beautiful logo for the Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival that features a crane as its icon. The symbol of the crane has many meanings, such as peace and long life, but it also reminds us of the consequences of war as told through the story of a young girl named Sadako Sasaki. She was one of hundreds of thousands of people in Japan either killed or harmed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at the end of World War II by the United States. Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia as a result of the radiation from the bomb, but she remembered a story that if you make one thousand cranes, then your wish will come true. She wished to live and believed with all her heart that her health would improve if she could accomplish making one thousand cranes. Every day, she would fold and fold. The story goes that she passed away after making 644 cranes. Sadako’s classmates continued to make Sadako’s one thousand cranes. They shared her story and built a memorial in her honor at the Hiroshima Peace Park.

Sadako’s story is one that Kaori Teramura heard many times as a child growing up in Japan. For Kaori, the cranes represent hope, peace, and love, as well as our interconnectedness. Kaori has lived in Ithaca, New York for 14 years where she works as a social worker at BOCES. In 1998, when she first moved to Ithaca, she met Han Lin, a Burmese Freedom Fighter, and his family. Han Lin and his family’s inspiring story is captured in Changhee Chun’s film, Honoring Home, which will be featured the first night of IPAAFF on Monday, April 20 at Cinemapolis. Kaori’s friendship with Han Lin and his family taught her about their experiences and she became active with Burmese resettlement in Ithaca. Before Han Lin was diagnosed with cancer, he had met Jun-san, a Japanese Buddhist nun from the Grafton Peace Pagoda near Albany, New York. Jun-san introduced Han Lin to the idea of peace walks to further his movement for the Burmese people. It was Han Lin who introduced Kaori to Jun-san and peace walks. Peace walkers make and carry folded crane ornaments with nanmyohorendekyo, a Buddhist mantra in Japanese which means “may all life be in harmony and peace” written on them. All peace walks have a specific purpose and cause. The peace walkers give cranes to people along their journey. The last two peace walks that Kaori has participated in were for a nuclear-free world and the Two-Row Wampum.

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Chiyo Teramura, Kaori’s grandmother, was born August 6, 1917. She raised and taught Kaori to be anti-war through her stories about the atrocities of war. Chiyo-san was already a widow with three children by August 6, 1945 when the U.S. dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. In December 2009, while Kaori was visiting Japan, her grandmother had a stroke. She prayed for her grandmother to recover and decided to make one thousand cranes. Her grandmother made them with her side by side. Since then, Chiyo-san has continued to make cranes. Whenever she finishes making one thousand, she sends them to Kaori in Ithaca to share. Kaori has shared her grandmother’s cranes with the Grafton Peace Pagoda and with the Ithaca community in support of various causes. On March 11, 2010, Japan was devastated by an earthquake that created a nuclear disaster. Jun-san organized a peace walk and movement to help people in Japan, which Kaori served as an active participant. The Japanese community in Ithaca also wished to do something and held a benefit gathering. Kaori initiated the idea of making one thousand cranes with messages from people in Ithaca, translated into Japanese, to send to people in Japan as an expression of human connection, love, and hope. Satomi Hill and Mimi Melegrito, leaders of the Asian Women’s Network which Kaori is also a member, helped to galvanize many groups in town for this and other causes, including fundraising for the Philippines after the 2013 tsunami.

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Kaori’s grandmother and Tao

Kaori’s grandmother, Chiyo-san, whose name means “a thousand lifetimes,” has made over ten thousand cranes for us in Ithaca. Along with the members of the Asian Women’s Network and the Ithaca College Asian American Alliance, Chiyo-san has contributed her yellow cranes to IPAAFF as an expression of her loving connection to us, the hope of a successful community event, and world peace. Chiyo-san met Kaori’s son, Tao, for the first time this past December during their visit to Japan. They made cranes together, too.

Film Preview: “Spilled (Soy) Milk”

Don’t miss out on the film screening of Changhee Chun’s Spilled (Soy) Milk on April 20!

The film is a documentary about the lives and experiences of Asian Americans right here in Ithaca, NY.

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Check out his film, Spilled (Soy) Milk on the first day of our festival!

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About the filmmaker: In his scopious career, Changhee Chun has completed collaborative productions on several feature films for major Korean production companies. In 1995, he signed on with Samsung Broadcasting Center (SBC) as a director and producer. Creating over thirty television documentaries and commercials, including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Chun gained a broad expertise of the technical and conceptual aspects for film and video production. As a freelance film director Chun developed over thirty commercial films, music videos and documentaries.

Chun continues to develop personal principles of characteristic film art, principles that encompass the challenge to students and filmmakers alike to contribute engaging art to mankind.

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How I Can Relate to IPAAFF by Rudy Outar

The Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival is an opportunity. It is an opportunity for Asians and Asian Americans to present something very close to them. They get to present their ideas of the world: how they perceive it and how they feel they are being perceived.

It is also an opportunity for me to help make history for the city of Ithaca, New York and potentially the entire upstate region. That is what this film festival is about. It is about giving people a chance to do something great, whether it be showing us their films or helping to organize the event.

I am not Asian or Asian American. I was born in Venezuela in South America and my parents are from Guyana, a small country adjacent to Venezuela. I come from a West Indian culture, which includes practicing Hinduism and listening to reggae. All that being said, it does not mean I cannot relate to some of the issues that face Asian Americans, which includes under and misrepresentation.

I want to play my part and help a minority group achieve their goals. Even something which may seem as small as a film festival for a small city in an obscure region of New York can have a monumental impact.

IPAAFF has given me a chance to work with some really great people, both professors and students alike. It is amazing to see how people of so many different cultures, Asian and non-Asian, can come together and create this film festival. This will be the first Asian American Film Festival for the city of Ithaca and it is amazing to see how many people really want this to happen. This is going to be an experience for everyone involved that we hope will leave an impact on people.

With this film festival, I hope to create a stronger bond between the community of Ithaca, including all the schools: high schools, universities, and colleges, and all of the surrounding area. I want this film festival to amaze people into wanting to create change, so minorities and Asian Americans can feel proud to be who they are.

What IPAAFF Means to Me by Kathlyn Quan

“What film has changed your life?”
“Joy Luck Club. It was the first time I ever saw someone who looked like me and challenged her identity on TV. I’ve never had that feeling before.”

That was one of the questions I was asked during my interview at San Francisco’s Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). I went into the organization, only able to list exactly one film about Asian Americans. After my internship, I had a list about a page long.

Being able to work at CAAM allowed me to be inspired, encouraged, and excited about all types of Asian American films whether I related to them or not. Even growing up in a diverse area of California, I was simply never exposed to these kinds of films and festivities that centered around Asian American culture and identities. Being able to be a part of something bigger was what I spent so many years discovering and learning about for my last year at Ithaca College.

When I came back to school, I knew I wanted others to be part of this community too. I wanted my friends and everyone around to feel the excitement of history and academia, passion and community all thrown into a week’s worth of celebration. As progress has developed on Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival, I am constantly challenged, frustrated, humbled, and appreciative of everything and everyone around me.

I learn every day about how businesses and organizations work, why hard work is so important, and most importantly, what it means to collaborate and work as a team. Projects such as IPAAFF show the best and the worst in people; I certainly know it has done that to me, but honestly, I’ve learned so much from these experiences and my teams.

Working with them reminds me why these festivals are so important. They bring people together about subjects that affect everyone. The more conversations we involve ourselves in, the more aware we become of these problems that do not belong to any one group. They differ between people, but injustice and inequality exists everywhere. While IPAAFF cannot represent them all, it opens a safe space for people to discuss and learn about everyday problems, solutions, and misunderstandings. Through dialogue, we face them together and that makes all the difference.