Inside the Chinese Closet

The complexities of gay life in modern China collide at the event where Andy and Cherry first meet—a “fake marriage fair” in Shanghai, where a new, cosmopolitan generation of gay men and lesbian women seek to make a deal with a spouse of the opposite sex. Homosexuality has only recently become legal in China, but morally and practically, life is still difficult. People in Andy and Cherry’s generation, the result of the “one child” policy, are under an unbearable pressure to meet the demands of their parents and grandparents. To these elders, who carry the trauma of the great famine and the limits of the Cultural Revolution, their gay children’s search for love and happiness in the city is unintelligible. INSIDE THE CHINESE CLOSET is a humorous and compassionate portrait of modern gay life, the eternally difficult relationship between parents and children, and the social, cultural, and moral beliefs in flux in China today.
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Forgetting Vietnam

One of the myths surrounding the creation of Vietnam involves a fight between two dragons whose intertwined bodies fell into the South China Sea and formed Vietnam’s curving S-shaped coastline. Influential feminist theorist and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha’s lyrical film essay commemorating the 40th anniversary of the end of the war draws inspiration from ancient legend and from water as a force evoked in every aspect of Vietnamese culture. Minh-ha’s classic Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989) used no original footage shot in the country; in Forgetting Vietnam images of contemporary life unfold as a dialogue between land and water—the elements that form the term "country." Fragments of text and song evoke the echoes and traces of a trauma of international proportions. The encounter between the ancient as related to the solid earth, and the new as related to the liquid changes in a time of rapid globalization, creates a third space of historical and cultural re-memory—what local inhabitants, immigrants and veterans remember of yesterday’s stories to comment on today’s events.
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People Are the Sky

Director Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (MOTHERLAND CUBA KOREA USA) is the first Korean American filmmaker to be given official permission by the North Korean government to film inside its borders. In PEOPLE ARE THE SKY, Kim-Gibson’s eighth and most personal film, the filmmaker makes a pilgrimage to her place of birth in North Korea for the first time in nearly 70 years, to explore if it is still home. Kim-Gibson seamlessly weaves her own personal story as a native born North Korean, with the fractious history of the North/South division and pinpoints the roots of North Korean’s hatred of the United States, giving Americans a much better understanding of the conflict. A mix of interviews epic images and graceful musings, PEOPLE ARE THE SKY offers some of the best political and social history of the relations between North and South Korea, and also a contemplative exploration of the meaning of home. The result is unprecedented, at times startling, for hers is an up close look of the hurts and desires, beauty and contradiction, pride and aspirations of the long held demonized nation.
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Surviving the Tsunami - My Atomic Aunt

Film director Kyoko Miyake remembered Namie, a fishing village ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, as her childhood paradise. Revisiting her family’s hometown after 10 years abroad, Miayke’s multilayered documentary examines the disaster’s profound personal, social and environmental impact. While Namie’s younger generations have permanently relocated elsewhere, Miyake’s Aunt Kuniko, like other older residents, has clung to dreams of eventually returning to her home. Over the course of a year, Miyake follows this warm, indomitable businesswoman as she recalls happy family memories and strives to adapt to life outside the contamination zone. In the process, Kuniko starts questioning her unconditional trust in Fukushima’s plant operators and pro-nuclear past in a community that once hoped to house a nuclear power station. A timely reminder of Fukushima’s continuing meltdown, this insightful, often funny film offers fresh perspectives on Japanese national identity and today’s most pressing global concerns around nuclear energy.
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The Mosuo Sisters

A tale of two sisters living in the shadow of two Chinas, this documentary by award-winning filmmaker Marlo Poras (Mai’s America; Run Granny Run) follows Juma and Latso, young women from one of the world’s last remaining matriarchal societies. Thrust into the worldwide economic downturn after losing jobs in Beijing and left with few options, they return to their remote Himalayan village. But growing exposure to modernity has irreparably altered traditions of the Mosuo, their tiny ethnic miniority, and home is not the same. Determined to keep their family out of poverty, one sister sacrifices her educational dreams and stays home to farm, while the other leaves, trying her luck in the city. The changes test them in unexpected ways. This visually stunning film highlights today’s realities of women’s lives and China’s vast cultural and economic divides while offering rare views of a surviving matriarchy.
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Red Wedding: Women Under the Khmer Rouge

The Killing Fields in Cambodia became known to the world but little is known about the struggles of the women left behind. From 1975-79, Pol Pot’s campaign to increase the population forced at least 250,000 young Cambodian women to marry Khmer Rouge soldiers they had never met before. Sochan Pen was one of them. At 16, she was beaten and raped by her husband before managing to escape, though deeply scarred by her experience. After 30 years of silence, Sochan is ready to file a complaint with the international tribunal that will try former Khmer leaders. With quiet dignity, she starts demanding answers from those who carried out the regime’s orders. To tell a story little known outside Cambodia, Cambodian Lida Chan and French-Cambodian Guillaume Suon include Khmer Rouge era footage underscoring war’s traumatic legacy for Sochan’s generation of women. Awarded two prizes at Amsterdam’s prestigious International Documentary Film Festival, RED WEDDING demonstrates the liberating power of speech and memory in the quest for justice.
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Forbidden Voices: How to Start a Revolution with a Computer

Their voices are suppressed, prohibited and censored. But world-famous bloggers Yoani Sánchez, Zeng Jinyan and Farnaz Seifi are unafraid of their dictatorial regimes. These fearless women represent a new, networked generation of modern rebels. In Cuba, China and Iran their blogs shake the foundations of the state information monopoly, putting them at great risk. This film accompanies these brave young cyberfeminists on perilous journeys. Eyewitness reports and clandestine footage show Sánchez's brutal beating by Cuban police for criticizing her country's regime; Chinese human rights activist Jinyan under house arrest for four years; and Iranian journalist and women's advocate Seifi forced into exile, where she blogs under a pseudonym. Tracing each woman's use of social media to denounce and combat violations of human rights and free speech in her home country, FORBIDDEN VOICES attests to the Internet's potential for building international awareness and political pressure.
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Under Snow

In the Echigo region of northwestern Japan, where heavy snow blankets entire landscapes and villages for more than half the year, a distinctive way of life has evolved. Time follows a different, slower rhythm, and everyday routines, along with religious rituals, wedding traditions, festivals, foods, songs, and games, are adapted to Echigo’s austere living conditions and natural beauty. Ulrike Ottinger’s latest film leads us into this mythical country, turning her lens on daily and communal life under the snowy mountains. Narrated in English by American literary and media theorist Lawrence A. Rickels, this stunning documentary sequences merge with the tale of students Takeo and Marko, played by Kabuki performers. Their journey through the past and repeated encounters with the present find them wondrously transformed with help from a beautiful vixen fox. Under Snow is clear evidence that Ottinger, whose career spans more than four decades, remains one of world cinema’s most original artists.
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Water Children

In this acclaimed, hauntingly beautiful film, director Aliona van der Horst follows the unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama as she explores the miracle of fertility and the cycle of life—sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic. When Mukaiyama recognized that her childbearing years were ending, she created a multimedia art project on the subject in a village in Japan, constructing what she calls a cathedral, out of 12,000 white silk dresses. While Mukaiyama’s own mesmerizing music provides a haunting backdrop to the film, her installation elicits confessions from its normally reticent Japanese visitors, many of whom have never seen art before—and in moving scenes they open up about previously taboo subjects. Mukaiyama’s courageous approach to a subject that remains unspoken in many cultures is explored with an elegance and sophistication that deepens our understanding of the relationship between body and mind.
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Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words

Anna May Wong knew she wanted to be a movie star from the time she was a young girl—and by 17 she became one. A third generation Chinese-American, she went on to make dozens of films in Hollywood and Europe. She was one of the few actors to successfully transition from silent to sound cinema, co-starring with Marlene Dietrich, Anthony Quinn and Douglas Fairbanks along the way. She was glamorous, talented and cosmopolitan—yet she spent most of her career typecast either as a painted doll or a scheming dragon lady. For years, older generations of Chinese-Americans frowned upon the types of roles she played; but today a younger generation of Asian Americans sees her as a pioneering artist, who succeeded in a hostile environment that hasn’t altogether changed. Yunah Hong’s engrossing documentary is an entertaining and imaginative survey of Wong’s career, exploring the impact Wong had on images of Asian American women in Hollywood, both then and now. Excerpts from Wong’s films, archival photographs and interviews enhance this richly detailed picture of a woman and her extraordinary life.
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Poetry of Resilience

Academy® Award nominated director Katja Esson’s (FERRY TALES, LATCHING ON) exquisitely made film explores survival, strength and the power of the human heart, body and soul—as expressed through poetry. She highlights six different poets, who individually survived Hiroshima, the Holocaust, China’s Cultural Revolution, the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Iranian Revolution. By summoning the creative voice of poetry to tell stories of survival and witness, each reclaims humanity and dignity in the wake of some of history’s most dehumanizing circumstances. POETRY OF RESILIENCE gives us an intimate look into the language of the soul and brings us closer to understanding the insanity of war and how art will flourish, in spite of any obstacle.This film is recommended for courses in poetry studies, literature, peace and conflict studies and genocide studies.
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The Learning

One hundred years ago, American teachers established the English-speaking public school system of the Philippines. Now, in a striking turnabout, American schools are recruiting Filipino teachers. THE LEARNING, from award-winning filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz (IMELDA), is the story of four Filipina women who reluctantly leave their families and schools to teach in Baltimore. With their increased salaries, they hope to transform their families' lives back in their impoverished country. This absorbing, beautifully crafted film follows these teachers as they take their place on the frontline of the No Child Left Behind Act. Across the school year's changing seasons, the film chronicles the sacrifices they make as they try to maintain a long-distance relationship with their children and families, and begin a new one with the mostly African-American students whose schooling is now entrusted to them. Their story is intensely personal, as each woman deals with the implications of her decision to come to the US, and fundamentally public, as they become part of the machinery of American education reform policy.
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Made in India: A Film about Surrogacy

In San Antonio, Lisa and Brian Switzer risk their savings with a Medical Tourism company promising them an affordable solution after seven years of infertility. Halfway around the world in Mumbai, 27-year-old Aasia Khan, mother of three, contracts with a fertility clinic to be implanted with the Texas couple’s embryos. MADE IN INDIA, about real people involved in international surrogacy, follows the Switzers and Aasia through every stage of the process. With its dual focus, this emotionally charged, thoroughly absorbing film charts obstacles faced by the Switzers and presents intimate insights into Aasia’s circumstances and motivation. As their stories become increasingly intertwined, the bigger picture behind offshore outsourcing of pregnancies—a booming, unregulated reproductive industry valued at $450 million in India alone—begins to emerge. So do revealing questions about international surrogacy’s legal and ethical implications, global corporate practices, human and reproductive rights, and commodification of the body.
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The Korean Wedding Chest

Ulrike Ottinger’s provocative mélange of ethnography, stunning tableaux and baroque vignettes was inspired by what she calls the “well-stocked miracle” of Korean wedding chests, assembled according to time-honored customs. This exploration of love and marriage in South Korea looks closely at ancient and present-day rituals, revealing what is old in the new and new in the old. Her inquiry leads us from shamans, temples and priests, to the enchanted maze of 21st-century Seoul, where vendors of medicinal herbs co-exist with high-tech beauty salons for wedding couples and secular marriage palaces. Using film much like a canvas, Ottinger creates a modern fairytale flush with mythological heroes, traditional rites, ancestral symbolism, dreams of eternal love, and a whole lot of Western kitsch. One of her most acclaimed documentaries, it captures the amazing phenomenon of new mega-cities and their contradictory societies caught in a balancing act.
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Motherland

How do we decide where is home? Feeling increasingly isolated in her adopted homeland, accomplished documentarian Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (SILENCE BROKEN: KOREAN COMFORT WOMEN) travels to Cuba to unearth stories from a relatively unknown group in the Asian diaspora. On the island, she meets Martha, a woman of Korean descent who identifies herself as Cuban. Like many of her contemporary countrymen and women, Martha possesses family ties that span multiple nations, cultures and politics. Her story inspires Kim-Gibson to travel to Miami to meet Martha's émigré sister and the rest of their mulitcultural family, in a journey that reveals how very different worldviews can co-exist in one family separated by place and ideology. Asking probing questions about identity and economic and social justice, Kim-Gibson explores the ways in which we determine our ethnic, national, and cultural loyalties. The compelling stories in Motherland Cuba Korea USA weave a complex web and illuminate the search for an understanding of "motherland" in a globalized society.
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The Women's Kingdom

Keepers of one of the last matriarchal societies in the world, Mosuo women in a remote area of southwest China live beyond the strictures of mainstream Chinese culture – enjoying great freedoms and carrying heavy responsibilities. Beautifully shot and featuring intimate interviews, this short documentary offers a rare glimpse into a society virtually unheard of 10 years ago and now often misrepresented in the media. Mosuo women control their own finances and do not marry or live with partners; they practice what they call "walking marriage." A man may be invited into a woman’s hut to spend a "sweet night," but must leave by daybreak. While tourism has brought wealth and 21st century conveniences to this remote area, it has also introduced difficult challenges to the Mosuo culture – from pollution in the lake, to the establishment of brothels, to mainstream ideas about women, beauty and family. This finely wrought film is a sensitive portrayal of extraordinary women struggling to hold on to their extraordinary society.
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Transnational Tradeswomen

Inspired by organizers at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, former construction worker Vivian Price spent years documenting the current and historical roles of women in the construction industry in Asia – discovering several startling facts. Capturing footage that shatters any stereotypes of delicate, submissive Asian women, Price discovers that women in many parts of Asia have been doing construction labor for centuries. But conversations with these women show that development and the resulting mechanization are pushing them out of the industry. Their stories disturb the notion of “progress” that many people hold and show how globalization, modernization, education and technology don’t always result in gender equality and the alleviation of poverty. Celebrating a range of women workers – from a Japanese truck driver, to two young Pakistani women working on a construction site in Lahore, to a Taiwanese woman doing concrete work alongside her husband – this film deftly probes the connections in their experiences. In a segment exploring the history of the Samsui women in Singapore (Chinese women who were recruited as construction laborers in the 1920's until they lost their jobs to mechanization in the 1970’s) unique archival footage and interviews with surviving Samsui offer an importation perspective on the historical and global scope of women workers’ struggles.
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Highway Courtesans

This provocative coming-of-age film chronicles the story of a bold young woman born into the Bachara community in Central India – the last hold-out of a tradition that started with India’s ancient palace courtesans and now survives with the sanctioned prostitution of every Bachara family’s oldest girl. Guddi, Shana and their neighbor Sungita serve a daily stream of roadside truckers to support their families. Their work as prostitutes forms the core of the local economy, but their contemporary ideas about freedom of choice, gender and self-determination slowly intrude on the Bachara way of life. HIGHWAY COURTESANS follows Guddi from the ages of 16 through 23 as she turns her world upside down, incurring the wrath of her fathers and brother as she struggles with tradition, family and love in hopes of realizing her dreams. In probing beyond the surface of a world of paradoxes, HIGHWAY COURTESANS resists easy moralizing and reveals the very real costs – financial, social and personal – for breaking with tradition. As a community hangs in the balance between traditional and contemporary values, this gripping documentary raises universal questions about sex, the roles of women, and the right of one culture to judge another.
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Heaven’s Crossroad

HEAVEN'S CROSSROAD traces an impressionistic journey through Vietnam exploring the nuances and complexities of “looking” cross-culturally. Structured in a series of observational yet stylized vignettes, this visually driven experimental documentary investigates shifting relationships of voyeurism and intimacy, while linking the observer with the observed. Takesue’s mesmerizing cinematography captures sweeping country landscapes and cities in motion, provoking questions about what it means to truly see another culture. HEAVEN'S CROSSROAD charts a singular journey yet it also explores common desires which surface through travel: the desire to be transported to another place; to communicate beyond language; the desire to arrest time and repossess a moment, a glance, a feeling, an encounter—transforming mundane events into moments of surprising beauty and an utterly new way of seeing.
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Children of the Crocodile

This documentary tells the story of two young Timorese-Australian activists – one a high profile human rights worker, the other a performance artist and lesbian – and their personal journey to further the cause of peace in the homeland they were forced to flee. Although merely infants when their families left East Timor to seek political asylum in Australia, Cidalia Pires and Elizabeth Exposto carry on their parents’ human rights work promoting the Timorese struggle. Their tireless activist efforts are documented through two amazing years in East Timor’s history - from the joy of voting for freedom in August 1999 to the rage at the destruction that followed and time of renewed commitment and hope. Their country’s independence fulfills their lifetime dream, but it also brings hard choices and painful returns for them both. Cidalia, in particular, faces the additional challenge of being an openly gay Timorese woman in a culture heavily steeped in tradition and conservative gender roles. CHILDREN OF THE CROCODILE tells a story which is personal yet universal - about ideals, identity, and the strength of an exile community that is committed to furthering the cause of peace in their native land.
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The Fourth Dimension

Acclaimed filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha ventures into the digital realm with her stunning new feature, THE FOURTH DIMENSION, an incisive and insightful examination of Japan through its art, culture, and social rituals. As is the case with Trinh's previous films, her new film is a multi-layered work addressing issues around its central theme: the experience of time, the impossibility of truly "seeing," and the impact of video on image-making. THE FOURTH DIMENSION is an elegant meditation on time, travel, and ceremony in the form of a journey. In her first foray into digital video, Minh-ha deconstructs the role of ritual in mediating between the past and the present. She explains, "Shown in their widespread functions and manifestations, including more evident loci such as festivals, religious rite and theatrical performance, 'rituals' involve not only the regularity in the structure of everyday life, but also the dynamic agents in the world of meaning." With its lush imagery, Minh-ha's Japan is viewed through mobile frames, with doors and windows sliding shut, revealing new vistas as it blocks out the old light. “Trinh T. Minh-ha’s newest essayistic work and her first videotape, cuts an intricate key for unlocking this elusive culture. Her tack finds great visual pleasure in the everyday, composing and decomposing the social landscape, while constructing a poetic grid of temporalities, symbolic meaning, and ritual. In THE FOURTH DIMENSION, Trinh’s lyrical narration guides us through ‘Japan’s likeness,’ the perfected framing of the sacramental familiar.” - Steve Seid
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Writing Desire

"Ursula Biemann’s WRITING DESIRE is a video essay on the new dream screen of the Internet and how it impacts on the global circulation of women’s bodies from the third world to the first world. Although under-age Philippine 'pen pals' and post-Soviet mail-order brides have been part of the transnational exchange of sex in the post-colonial and post-Cold War marketplace of desire before the digital age, the Internet has accelerated these transactions. Biemann provides her viewers with a thoughtful meditation on the obvious political, economic and gender inequalities of these exchanges by simulating the gaze of the Internet shopper looking for the imagined docile, traditional, pre-feminist, but Web-savvy mate. WRITING DESIRE delights in implicating the viewer in the new voyeurism and sexual consumerism of the Web. However, it never fails to challenge pat assumptions about the impossibility for resistance and the absolute victimization of women who dare to venture out of the third world and onto the Internet to look for that very obscure object of desire promised by the men of the West. This film will promote lively discussion on third world women, the sex industry, mail order brides, racism and feminist backlashes in the West, and on women’s sexuality, desire, and new technologies." --Gina Marchetti, Ithaca College
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Subrosa

SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact. Originally shot on digital video, the film captures the grit and garishness of an alien urban landscape while plumbing the melancholy dream space where the character retreats even as she searches for her very life. Brimming with surreal, breathtaking, elegiac imagery, this sensuously rendered tale of loss, love and longing resonates long after its shocking conclusion.
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Gaea Girls

"This fascinating film follows the physically grueling and mentally exhausting training regimen of several young wanna-be GAEA GIRLS, a group of Japanese women wrestlers. The idea of them may seem like a total oxymoron in a country where women are usually regarded as docile and subservient. However, in training and in the arena, the female wrestlers depicted in this film are just as violent as any member of the World Wrestling Federation, and the blood that’s drawn is very real indeed. One recruit, Takeuchi, endures ritual humiliation not seen on screen since the boot camp sequences of FULL METAL JACKET. In DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE, Kim Longinotto cinematically explored the previously unexplored world of the Tehran divorce courts. Working with co-director Jano Williams, Longinotto has been given access to shoot an insider’s verité account of this closely guarded universe." - Chicago Film Festival
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The Children We Sacrifice

Shot in India, Sri Lanka, Canada and the United States, and screened in 18 countries, this evocative, visually powerful documentary is about incestuous sexual abuse of the South Asian girl child. By interweaving survivors' narratives, including the producer's own story, with interviews with South Asian mental health professionals, and with statistical information, as well as poetry and art, THE CHILDREN WE SACRIFICE discloses the many layers of a subject traditionally shrouded in secrecy. Insights into the far-reaching psychological, social and cultural consequences of incest are accompanied by thoughtful assessments of strategies that have helped adult women cope with childhood trauma. The film also analyzes social and cultural resistance in South Asia and the Diaspora to dealing with incest's causes and its effects on its victims. This personal and collective letter from South Asian incest survivors and their advocates is both a validation of their struggle and a compelling charge to protect future generations of children better.
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Seven Hours To Burn

"A visually expressive personal documentary that explores a family's history. Filmmaker Thakur mixes richly abstract filmmaking with disturbing archival war footage to narrate the story of her Danish mother's and Indian father's experiences. Her mother survives Nazi-occupied Denmark while her father experiences the devastating civil war in India between Hindus and Muslims. Both émigrés to Canada, they meet and marry, linking two parallel wars. Their daughter lyrically turns these two separate histories into a visually rich poem linking past and present in a new singular identity." Doubletake Documentary Film Festival Catalogue
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Nu Shu: A Hidden Language of Women in China

In feudal China, women, usually with bound feet, were denied educational opportunities and condemned to social isolation. But in Jian-yong county in Hunan province, peasant women miraculously developed a separate written language, called Nu Shu, meaning "female writing." Believing women to be inferior, men disregarded this new script, and it remained unknown for centuries. It wasn't until the 1960s that Nu Shu caught the attention of Chinese authorities, who suspected that this peculiar writing was a secret code for international espionage. Today, interest in this secret script continues to grow, as evidenced by the wide critical acclaim of Lisa See’s recent novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, about Nu Shu. NU SHU: A HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF WOMEN IN CHINA is a thoroughly engrossing documentary that revolves around the filmmaker's discovery of eighty-six-year-old Huan-yi Yang, the only living resident of the Nu Shu area still able to read and write Nu Shu. Exploring Nu Shu customs and their role in women's lives, the film uncovers a women's subculture born of resistance to male dominance, finds a parallel struggle in the resistance of Yao minorities to Confucian Han Chinese culture, and traces Nu Shu's origins to some distinctly Yao customs that fostered women's creativity.
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Made In Thailand

In Thailand, women make up 90 percent of the labor force responsible for garments and toys for export by multinational corporations. This powerful, revealing documentary about women factory workers and their struggle to organize unions exposes the human cost behind the production of everyday items that reach our shores. Probing the profound impact of the New World Order on the populations that provide the global economy with cheap labor, MADE IN THAILAND also profiles women newly empowered by their campaign for human and worker's rights. Several of these women are survivors of the 1993 Kader Toy Factory fire, one of the worst industrial fires in history. Today they are highly effective leaders in the grass-roots movement mobilizing workers in their recently industrialized country.
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Visitors of the Night

The failures of the ethnographic endeavor to discover “reality” are revealed in this expository and experimental film. The narrator-ethnographer embarks on an expedition to encounter the Mosuo, an isolated and matrilinear tribe in the mountains of South West China. Their society is built on the principle of the axia-relationship, ties between ‘visitors of the night.’ This means that a man only stays in his wife’s house at night and during the day he works for the benefit of his grandmother. Since men and women do not have economical obligations, their unique, polyandric relationships are based on love only. Recently due to funding by the Han government, The Lugu region has turned into a major touristic area, where tradition and modernity clash -- particularly when the polyandry of the Mosuo is seen as prostitution by outsiders. Van Dienderen, a visual anthropologist, playfully reveals the distance between textual knowledge and the experience of a cinematographic journey in a thoughtful and fascinating documentary.
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Searching for Go-Hyang

A moving personal documentary, SEARCHING FOR GO-HYANG traces the return of twin sisters to their native Korea after a fourteen year absence. Sent away by their parents for the promise of a better life in the US, they instead suffered mental and physical abuse by their adoptive parents, including the erasure of their cultural heritage and language. Reunited with their biological parents and brothers, the young women explore their past in an attempt to reconnect with their “Go-Hyang”, their homeland, which they find they may not have a place in anymore. Thousands of Korean and Chinese girl babies have been brought to the US for adoption in the last twenty years. This beautiful film is a rare feminist look at the issues of cross-cultural adoption and national identity.
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New Directions

NEW DIRECTIONS is award-winning documentarian Joanne Burke's series about women's empowerment in developing countries. Each one spotlights the critical role women are playing as community based leaders: providing education, inspiration and practical assistance to other women in their countries. WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE (1997, 30 minutes) focuses on a group of five daring women who have taken up the challenge of creating their own future in the traditionally male field of carpentry. At its center is Fatima Shoriwa, an inspiration to many of her countrywomen. Owner of a thriving carpentry business, she also openly advocates education, family planning, safe sex practices, and economic self-sufficiency to achieve women's full voices in their own destinies. In Klong Toey, Bangkok's largest slum, Duang Prateep, a foundation created and run entirely by women, provides empowering choices and role models to the area's residents. WOMEN OF THAILAND (1997, 30 minutes) centers on Rotjana Phraesrithong, a remarkable young social worker who first came to Klong Toey as a poor, ill-educated country girl of twelve. As it follows Rotjana in her work with the women and children of Klong Toey, the film reveals how her innovative programs promote schooling for children and provide AIDS and health eduction. WOMEN OF GUATEMALA (2000, 30 minutes) is a compelling portrait of Maria Del Carmen Chavajay and Micaela Chavajay, part of the new generation of Mayan women. They head the Health Promoter Group of San Pedro La Laguna, a group of seventy-five women that provides health education and tackles the grave social and economic injustices facing Mayan women in Guatemala. In a region where doctors are few or non-existent and where the cost of medical care is prohibitively high, these dedicated women share the aspirations, insights and experiences that underscore the important contributions of Mayan women--and their roles as future leaders--in Guatemalan women's struggle for empowerment. The fourth installment of the series, SPEAKING OUT: WOMEN, AIDS AND HOPE IN MALI (2002, 55 minutes) profiles a remarkable HIV and AIDS support project in Bamako, Mali, sponsored by The Center for Care, Activity and Council for People Living with HIV (CESAC) and three brave women who tirelessly work on behalf of the infected community.
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New Directions: Women of Thailand

In Klong Toey, Bangkok's largest slum, Duang Prateep, a foundation created and run entirely by women provides empowering choices and role models to the area's residents. Part of Joanne Burke's NEW DIRECTIONS series about innovative women in developing countries, this compelling documentary closeup of the women who carry out Duang Prateep's mandate centers on Rotjana Phraesrithong, a remarkable young social worker who first came to Klong Toey as a poor, ill-educated country girl of twelve. As it follows Rotjana in her work with the women and children of Klong Toey, the film reveals how her innovative programs promote schooling among the traditionally underserved community's children. We also see how the foundation's struggle against the spread of AIDS and other health problems is vigorously supported by housewife volunteers from Klong Toey. A valuable resource for studies focusing on the transformation of women's roles in Asia and on educational issues in the developing world, WOMEN OF THAILAND has useful applications for community-based audiences as well.
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Out of Phoenix Bridge

This groundbreaking work from Li Hong, China’s first independent female documentarian, follows two years in the lives of four young women from the countryside who have come to Beijing for jobs. Although they work long hours as maids or street vendors and share a tiny room no bigger than a closet, they savor these years— between living as a daughter at home and returning to the village to marry —as probably the freest time of their lives. Documenting both her deepening relationship with these women and the gulf of experiences and opportunity that separate them, Hong carefully charts their hopes for a better future and dreams of self-determination. In interviews and intimate footage, Hong elicits remarkably candid and complex testimony from her subjects as they frankly discuss their work, pressures from home, and experiences with men. A remarkable achievement, this touching film is a fascinating look at the lives of women whose experiences are rarely explored. As they straddle traditional and modern roles, their stories uniquely exemplify the conflicts between the swift changes in women’s roles occurring in China and around the developing world.
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Woman Being

In a critical examination of changing concepts of beauty and sexuality in modern China, WOMAN BEING illustrates how a flood of Western pop culture is adversely affecting women's expectations and self-worth. Revisiting her hometown Chengdu after a long absence,filmmaker Wen-Jie Qin traces the impact of a newly booming beauty industry in a country where thirty years ago women were beat up for wearing makeup. Combining interviews and footage from glamour photo studios and television, WOMAN BEING explores the rise of a new super-feminine, highly sexualized ideal. "This hard-nosed look at women in contemporary China makes a persuasive case for how the economies of pleasure, beauty, and consumption are transacted through exploiting women's bodies and images. It provides a sobering prognosis of what 'freedom' might mean for women in China today." - Marina Heung, Baruch College, CUNY
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Through Chinese Women's Eyes

"THROUGH CHINESE WOMEN'S EYES offers an insightful journey into the transformations in the lives of Chinese women over the 20th century. In a fascinating overview, anthropologist/director Mayfair Yang documents the attempts to erase gender differences under Mao, today's changing ideas of femininity, and the crystallization of Chinese feminism at the UN Women's conference in Beijing. As propaganda films and news footage of the 1960's, present day television images, and interview footage from the 1990's mingle in a rich visual history, teachers, karaoke singers, organizers, and others share their lives. This sensitive portrayal of the daily experiences and historical memories of Chinese is essential to an understanding of contemporary feminisms." - Faye Ginsburg, New York University
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Eternal Seed

With insightful interviews and rare footage from India's agricultural industry, this keenly observed film depicts Indian women's struggles to use traditional farming practices instead of chemically-based agriculture. Comparing the practices of women who consider seeds sacred with multinational companies' use of sterilized hybrids, this evocative analysis celebrates the scientific basis of women's native traditions in a provocative look at the evolving meanings of healthy land use.
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The Hidden Story

Its title referring both to women's hidden lives and the hidden work of creating ethnographic realities, this nuanced look at the lives of four rural Indian women paints a portrait of survival and advancement against great odds. Examining the lives of women tenant farmers, it depicts women balancing resistance and activism with a deep commitment to diverse myths and traditions. As scenes of India's changing urban and rural landscapes mingle with candid interviews and first-person narration, this perceptive film showcases how issues of class, education, and political consciousness shape documentary practice and women's circumstances.
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Shinjuku Boys

From the makers of DREAM GIRLS, SHINJUKU BOYS introduces three onnabes who work as hosts at the New Marilyn Club in Tokyo. Onnabes are women who live as men and have girlfriends, although they don't usually identify as lesbians. As the film follows them at home and on the job, all three talk frankly to the camera about their gender-bending lives, revealing their views about women, sex, transvestitism and lesbianism. Alternating with these illuminating interviews are fabulous sequences shot inside the Club, patronized almost exclusively by heterosexual women who have become disappointed with real men. This is a remarkable documentary about the complexity of female sexuality in Japan today.
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Remembering Wei Yi-fang, Remembering Myself

REMEMBERING WEI YI-FANG, REMEMEBERING MYSELF: An Autobiography charts the influence of the filmmaker’s six-year experience as an African American woman in Taiwan after college graduation. The highly original film recounts Welbon’s discovery, through another language and culture, of being respected for who she is, without the constant of American racism, and how it helped her achieve self-knowledge. Linking this story with that of earlier women in Welbon’s family, the richly textured memoir blends dramatic sequences with documentary footage.
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A Tale of Love

Portraying the Vietnamese immigrant experience through Kieu, A TALE OF LOVE follows the quest of a woman in love with ‘Love’. The film is loosely inspired by THE TALE OF KIEU, the Vietnamese national poem of love which Vietnamese people see as a mythical biography of their ‘motherland,’ marked by internal turbulence and foreign domination. A free-lance writer, Kieu also works as a model for a photographer who idealizes the headless female body and who captures Kieu sheathed by transparent veils. Voyeurism runs through the history of love narratives and voyeurism is here one of the threads that structures the ‘narrative’ of the film. Exposing the fiction of love in love stories and the process of consumption, A TALE OF LOVE marginalizes traditional narrative conventions and opens up a denaturalized space of acting where performed reality, memory and dream constantly pass into one another. Sublimely beautiful to watch, A TALE OF LOVE eloquently evokes an understanding of the allusive and powerful connections between love, sensuality, voyeurism and identity.
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On Cannibalism

King Kong meets the family photograph in this provocative experimental film exploring the West's insatiable appetite for native bodies in museums, world's fairs, and early cinema. Intertwining personal narrative about race and identity in the U.S. with layered footage, artifacts and video effects, ON CANNIBALISM looks back at anthropological truisms with outrage and irony. "...In these times of heated debates around diversity and multiculturalism, ON CANNIBALISM is bound to arouse interesting discussions concerning race, identity and difference. " - Teshome Gabriel, UCLA
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Dream Girls

This fascinating documentary, produced for the BBC, opens a door into the spectacular world of the Takarazuka Revue, a highly successful musical theater company in Japan. Each year, thousands of girls apply to enter the male-run Takarazuka Music School. The few who are accepted endure years of a highly disciplined and reclusive existence before they can join the Revue, choosing male or female roles. DREAM GIRLS offers a compelling insight into gender and sexual identity and the contradictions experienced by Japanese women today.
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Ripples of Change

Powerful political analysis is combined with a passionate personal story in this exceptional documentary about the Japanese women’s liberation movement in the 1970’s and its influence on contemporary Japanese society. Director Nanako Kurihara left her homeland in the 1980’s, frustrated by the lack of interesting roles for women in Japan. In New York, she met a Japanese woman who had been involved in the women’s liberation movement in Japan in the 1970’s. Kurihara returned to Japan, bringing together interviews with veterans of the movement, fascinating archival footage and her personal impressions to produce a film which explores the meaning of the liberation movement, the factors that motivated it and the effect it has had on people’s attitudes. RIPPLES OF CHANGE is an excellent resource for the study of global feminism, women’s roles and Japanese society.
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The Good Wife of Tokyo

“Forget those demure ladies with fragrant fans and meet the new breed of Japanese women!” - Amanda Casson, London Film Festival. Kazuko Hohki goes back to Tokyo with her band, the ‘Frank Chickens’, after living in England for 15 years. This wry and delightful film records her re-experiencing of Japan after a long absence, examining traditional attitudes to women and those of Kazuko’s friends who are trying to live differently. “This is a remarkable film which will appeal to general audiences as well as educators teaching about women, the family and/or religion in contemporary Japan. It deserves to be widely shown.” — Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership Center for Educational Media.
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Something Like a War

SOMETHING LIKE A WAR is a chilling examination of India’s family planning program from the point of view of the women who are its primary targets. It traces the history of the family planning program and exposes the cynicism, corruption and brutality which characterizes its implementation. As the women themselves discuss their status, sexuality, fertility control and health, it is clear that their perceptions are in conflict with those of the program. SOMETHING LIKE A WAR is an excellent resource for the study of international development and aid, population control, reproductive rights, health and women.
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Shoot for the Contents

Reflecting on Mao’s famous saying, “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend,” Trinh T. Minh-ha’s film—whose title refers in part to a Chinese guessing game—is a unique excursion into the maze of allegorical naming and storytelling in China. The film ponders questions of power and change, politics and culture, as refracted by Tiananmen Square events. It offers at the same time an inquiry into the creative process of filmmaking, intricately layering Chinese popular songs and classical music, the sayings of Mao and Confucius, women’s voices and the words of artists, philosophers and other cultural workers. Video images emulate the gestures of calligraphy and contrast with film footage of rural China and stylized interviews. Like traditional Chinese opera, Trinh’s film unfolds through “bold omissions and minute depictions” to render “the real in the illusory and the illusory in the real.” Exploring color, rhythm and the changing relationship between ear and eye, this meditative documentary realizes on screen the shifts of interpretation in contemporary Chinese culture and politics.
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As the Mirror Burns

Most representations of the Vietnam War show women as innocent by-standers who sometimes became caught up in the conflict but who were otherwise uninvolved. AS THE MIRROR BURNS is an amazing redressing of this misconception. It is estimated that over 70% of the guerrilla forces in the war were women who were not victims but who were active participants in the struggle against foreign domination. AS THE MIRROR BURNS shows how the war still shapes life for the women of Vietnam as they continue their work in the fields and factories, on the roads and in the homes, to restore peace to their land. Study guide available.
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Eat the Kimono

EAT THE KIMONO is a brilliant documentary about Hanayagi Genshu, a Japanese feminist and avant-garde dancer and performer, who has spent her life defying her conservative culture’s contempt for independence and unconventionality. She denounced Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal, and dismissed death threats made against her by right-wing groups. “You mustn’t be eaten by the kimono,” says Genshu, making reference to the traditional Japanese dress designed to restrict movement for women, “You must eat the kimono, and gobble it up.” From the directors of THE GOOD WIFE OF TOKYO and HIDDEN FACES.
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Surname Viet Given Name Nam

Of marriage and loyalty: “Daughter, she obeys her father/ Wife, she obeys her husband/ Widow, she obeys her son.” Vietnamese-born Trinh T. Minh-ha’s profoundly personal documentary explores the role of Vietnamese women historically and in contemporary society. Using dance, printed texts, folk poetry and the words and experiences of Vietnamese women in Vietnam—from both North and South—and the United States, Trinh’s film challenges official culture with the voices of women. A theoretically and formally complex work, SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM explores the difficulty of translation, and themes of dislocation and exile, critiquing both traditional society and life since the war.
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A Song of Ceylon

A formally rigorous, visually stunning study of colonialism, gender and the body. The title echoes the classic British documentary and evokes a country erased from the world map. The soundtrack enacts a Sri Lankan anthropological text observing a woman’s ritual exorcism. Visually, the film brings together theatrical conventions and recreations of classic film stills, presenting the body in striking tableaux. This remarkable film is a provocative treatise on hybridity, hysteria and performance.
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Memory Pictures

A beautifully composed profile of gay Indian photographer, Sunil Gupta, and the way his work portrays issues of sexual and racial identity in relation to personal and familial history.
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Adynata

A formal 1861 portrait of a Chinese Mandarin and his wife is the starting point for this allegorical investigation of the fantasies spawned in the West about the East, particularly that which associates femininity with the mysterious Orient. ADYNATA presents a series of oppositions-male and female images, past and present sounds-which in and of themselves construct a minimal and fragmentary narrative, an open text of our imaginations, fears and fantasies.
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Bhangra Jig

A vibrant short film about how young Asian people in Scotland celebrate desire and self-pride through dance and music.
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Helen Lee Compilation

Helen Lee’s internationally acclaimed short films are now available for purchase in a 3-DVD set. This compilation includes SALLY’S BEAUTY SPOT (1990), MY NIAGARA (1992) and SUBROSA (2000). (12 mins) SALLY'S BEAUTY SPOT - A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film. Offscreen women's voices and scenes from THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG parallel and counterpoint Sally's own interracial relationships and emerging self-awareness. A provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity. (40 mins) MY NIAGARA - Grasping the texture of half-expressed desire, this beautifully drawn drama evokes the complex dislocations of an Asian American woman. Shadowed by the death of her mother, Julie Kumagai's life with her widower father is marked by pained, turbulent exchanges. Indifferent to a break-up with her boyfriend and the lure of a long-planned trip, she finds some refuge in her workplace where meets Tetsuro, a young Korean man newly emigrated from Japan who is obsessed with all things American. But together they discover no easy resolutions. MY NIAGARA was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (22 mins) SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact.
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