Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Asian American Film Festival to showcase filmmakers Ken Eng, Adele Pham and Wong Fu Productions

Festival is presented by the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center

%28Courtesy+of+Wong+Fu+Productions+Facebook+page%29
(Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions Facebook page)

(Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions Facebook page)

(Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions Facebook page)

By Chris McLaughlin, Collegian Staff

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The University of Massachusetts’ first Asian American Film Festival will showcase filmmakers Kenneth ‘Ken’ Eng, Adele Pham and members of popular YouTube channel Wong Fu Productions.

The Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center will present the festival from Nov. 7-9 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., in Campus Center rooms 174-176. The featured filmmakers will make guest appearances.

Lily Tang, a sophomore political science and BDIC major who helped to organize the event, explained “[The YKCC] noticed there was a lack of a big event in the fall semester because we concentrate and do big events in the spring.” She and her fellow organizers saw that there were multiple Asian American film festivals in Boston and said “We thought it would be awesome to bring that to Western Mass.”

On Nov. 7 the first film to be shown will be Eng’s “My Life in China.” Eng grew up in Boston attending Boston Latin School and has used his filmmaking to benefit the community in Boston Chinatown as well as having his work featured on PBS. On the UMass event page for the film festivalEng’s documentary is described as a “story of migration [that] is passed down from father to son, as we retrace the precarious steps he took in search of a better life. Ultimately asking the question, what does it mean to be both Chinese and American?”

Eng’s father, who fled China’s Cultural Revolution in 1966, died a few weeks ago, according to Tang. She added, “I think this will be the first time he’ll be showing his film since his father’s passing. I think it will be a really special and hard moment for him to watch this film, but also really special because he’s doing it in Massachusetts where it’s a community he really cares about.”

On Nov. 8, the second film to be shown will be Pham’s “Nailed It.” In this documentary, Pham, a mixed-race Vietnamese-American woman, looks into the nail salon industry, valued at $8 billion, and how the Vietnamese came to dominate this line of work.

Tang explained, “It discusses the hardships of being refugees because the Vietnamese, most of that particular wave of immigrants, they were refugees after the Vietnam War and finding economic success when they came from such as hard place.

“Her identity as a Vietnamese woman, this is also a story that’s salient to her, but also what’s really interesting is that she’s mixed race as well so it’s like she has multiple identities at play and that’s something we really wanted to highlight when we chose our filmmakers this year to have people that hold different identities and different stories to come to UMass.”

On Nov. 9, the final day of the film festival, two members of Wong Fu Productions, Taylor Chan and Wesley Chan, will attend and show their latest work, “Yappie,” a series about young Asian professionals. Wong Fu Productions was formed by co-founders Philip Wang, Ted Fu and Wesley Chan according to their website and now has over 3,000,000 subscribers. Additionally, the group’s YouTube channel currently has over 520 million views since they joined the platform in 2007.

Tang reflected on the work of Wong Fu, saying, “[It talks] about the role of this generation… As young Asian American professionals, how do we navigate through life when we’re so kind of separated from our parents’ struggles and trauma of being refugees-slash-immigrants because we grew up in the U.S., we learned English and we’re in college, have that success and American dream, so what does it mean for us to continue to be advocates for our parents and carry on that legacy and heritage?”

She also noted the arrangement of the screenings, saying, “It’s almost linear in sequence, immigration, the coming to the U.S., the struggles in the country that the groups faced, the resiliency, the successes and then the very end with Wong Fu, the now what, our generation and what story we want to tell.”

In addition to the YKCC, the event is being supported by co-hosts the Vietnamese Student Association, the Asian American Student Association and the Taiwanese Chinese Student Association as well as a broad range of sponsors.

After each film screening, attendees can participate in a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers, have chances to win prizes through a raffle and will be served Asian meals. The location in the Campus Center basement is physically accessible and anyone from the public or the from the Five College consortium is welcome to attend, according to the organizers.

One of those organizers is Lydia Phung, a senior operations and information management major, who commented on the importance of Asian Americans in the media, citing this year’s increase in representation through films such as “Crazy Rich Asians” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” saying, “This year we’ve had so many productions of people representing Asian culture and it’s just amazing.” She added, “I think it’s also nice to have filmmakers who are able to relate to us.”

Fellow organizer Chan Kim, a junior mathematics major, hopes the film festival will become an annual event and that it will bring more attention to the YKCC, which is located on the bottom floor of Worcester Dining Commons, saying “It’s overall more exposure at the end of the day, especially for our center, people come down here and they’re lost, so that’s something we’re trying to change.”

Chris McLaughlin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ChrisMcLJournal.

1 Comment

One Response to “Asian American Film Festival to showcase filmmakers Ken Eng, Adele Pham and Wong Fu Productions”

  1. amy on November 6th, 2018 3:33 am

    Asian pride yeah!!!!!!!!

    So many of the best american films are stolen from Asian films like the departed! Our best actors, Jackie Chan, Bruce lee, were asian.

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