Finding Myself Through IPAAFF by Priscilla Lee

I’m not one to talk about myself, especially about my feelings, experiences, and stories. However, after the Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival event this past week, I feel compelled to share what being a part of this film festival has meant to me.

My story has always been difficult for me to tell to people, not because of tragedies or hardships (although those reasons add to the fact), but mainly because I feared, and believed, that my many layers and factors would become non-relatable and further isolate me to feel like a foreigner wherever I went.

I was born and raised in Kenya for the majority of my life, living a few years in the United States here and there. At first, I would tell people I am American by citizenship, Korean and African American by blood, but essentially Kenyan, even though I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. Analyzing how I felt for many years as I lived in Kenya, I felt like a foreigner. When my family lived in the United States for a few years, I looked like “a foreigner.” When I visited Korea as a child, I was treated as a foreigner. I struggled with finding where I fit in, constantly changing myself to blend in with different groups of people and letting others define me based on how I looked and acted. To many people, I was referenced as a “bruised banana,” meaning that I am Black and Asian on the outside and “American” on the inside.

It wasn’t until I came to college when I really started to dig into my history and decide what and how I would identify myself as and to find my agency in that identity. Throughout the past three years at Ithaca College, I have grown, and I now contently self-identify as being Korean-African-American, although I still have a long journey ahead of me in growing more and more confident in my identity. There are still hard days when I struggle with trying and wanting to blend in with other Koreans or African Americans, and to a certain extent, looking for their approval. Other times, my own acceptance in the fact that I am mixed race and to belong is not for other’s approval, but my own.

I became a part of IPAAFF through the promotion and encouragement of my advisor, Changhee Chun. He kept insisting we would make history together through this class. Being Asian American and in Ithaca, I felt, in a weird way, a small sense of duty to be a part of the festival. Throughout the semester, I worked day in and day out, with some days being on fire for the festival and proud that we are creating this event and other days questioning what the whole point was. Regardless, the event started and ended.

In the end, no matter how much work I did or didn’t put into the film festival, I am delighted and especially honoured to be a part of the first Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival for three main reasons.

First, it allowed me to meet so many great individuals in the class who have not only encouraged me, and each other, throughout the semester and event, but also allowed me to feel like I have a community of members who have my back when I didn’t have the energy to go through the day. Second, watching the films that were submitted and screened made me realize that “Asian American” is a much broader term than I ever thought about and creating a film about Asian American identity can be just another narrative film. And finally third, it allowed me to realize that my story too, just might be able to reach out to people, so I should not be afraid of sharing it. My many layers that I was once afraid of is now something I am learning to embrace and appreciate about myself and encourage my agency.

T-shirt sale!!

The time is finally here! Come and buy your very own IPAAFF t-shirt this week! One t-shirt is $15, but you can buy 2 for $25.

t-shirts

 

We will be tabling outside of North Foyer of Emerson Suites from 9 am to 3 pm on Wednesday and in the Campus Center lobby from 9 am to 3 pm on Friday!

We hope to see everyone wearing the IPAAFF t-shirts next week at the festival!

 

Film Preview: “Love Express”

Love Express_DannyJiveAlthough “Love Express” takes place on a train, it is a love story and emotional journey between the two characters. Directed by an inspired writer and self-taught New York City filmmaker, “Love Express” takes viewers back to the Hong Kong cinema of the 1990s. Click here for further details on the film, “Love Express,” and be sure to check out the screening on Thursday, April 23!

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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.