As the opening film this evening at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Children of Invention is an example of the changes Asian films have undergone since the festival began 13 years ago according to founder Barbara Lee.
She said when the festival began, feature films tended to be about the cultural identity crisis experienced by Asians who grew up in North America. At home, they were raised by parents who believed traditional ways should rule. Once they stepped outside, they walked into a vibrant pop cultural world where few, if any, of those traditional values had much legitimacy. As a result, Asians often felt like they were strangers in their own land.
Lee said as the years have gone by, the festival has seen fewer and fewer of those kinds of identity films on the program.
“I think we kind of got over that,” she said. “Now it’s more about: This is who I am: I’m Canadian and this is my take on it.’ It’s not so much about an identity crisis and more about saying This is how it is and listen to my story. ‘”
Lee said both Asians and non-Asians sometimes still complain that the films in an Asian film festival aren’t in Asian languages. But VAFF isn’t about showing films from Asia. VAFF focusses on showing films made by Asians living in North America where English is the dominant language.
Lee said while looking Asian equates with being a foreigner to some people, the festival is trying to overcome that stereotype by showing Asians as part of the country’s cultural landscape. The 42 films have been chosen because they tell human stories that cross cultural boundaries.
“Our stories are universal but maybe have a little bit of an Asian perspective because culturally that’s where our parents are from,” she said.
More hot picks from the festival:
Operation Babylift: the Lost Children of Vietnam: After the United States pulled out of Vietnam in 1972, close to 2,500 orphans were left behind in the country. Airlifted out, they faced enormous prejudice growing up in the United States because of the unpopularity of the war. Sunday, 1:30 p.m.