The Clarion Performing Arts Center in SF Chinatown screened 2 of my public television films, She Wants to Talk to You (KQED) and Joyful Life/樂生 (Taiwan Public Television) on Saturday, May 27th, 4-6pm with excellent conversations afterwards!
It was a wonderful way to reconnect with the participants in the films, like Phulam Yonjan and her grown daughters, from 22 years ago when we filmed She Wants to Talk to You, and to reconnect with the issues of gender equity in Nepal today and adjusting to a new life in the U.S. as addressed in the film.
(Photos by Tosh Tanaka)
In She Wants to Talk to You, a recording of three 13-year old Nepali girls on the subjects of being girls in Nepal, marriage, friendship, loneliness, their dreams, and god, inspire three émigré women from Nepal to reflect on their own exile, struggle and quest for liberation. To learn more about the artist-in-residency experience in 1999-2000 and Nepali filmmaking, you can read my essay “The World Through Fresh Eyes: Reflections on the SF-Kathmandu Residency” and Carina Frantz’s essay “A Passage to Nepal” published here in Release Print.
Joyful Life/樂生 is a collaborative documentary with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients residing at Taiwan’s Lo-Sheng (Joyful Life) one of few remaining sanatoriums in the world on the verge of disappearing. Residents partake in filming their own story, creating an intimate portrait of a historically marginalized community and their inspiring determination to protect what they call their home. Writings about my experiences witnessing the residents’ courage and perseverance was published in Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies (2013) entitled “On the Communal Other: Collaborative Documentary Praxis in Joyful Life.” Below is Ah Tien-pei in 2006 talking about his pain in Joyful Life and in 2015 for the Taipei Times.
Social justice activism continues for some of the 66 or so remaining residents at the sanatorium. There were 364 residents when my team and I were filming in 2006. The average age of residents is 83 years old. As reported in the Taipei Times in 2015, the 3 major objectives for the resident activists is 1) site preservation and restoration, 2) collecting oral history and artifacts to create a museum and 3) ensuring the resident’s medical and care needs are met.
Deepest gratitude to hosts and organizers Jeff Giordano and Clara Hsu at Clarion Performing Arts Center, Dear Community for their support, and Phulam for her continued inspiration.