APEX Express – 5.5.22 Explore AAPI Heritage Events

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A weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of our community. The show is produced by a collective of media makers, deejays, and activists. In honor of AAPI heritage month Powerleegirls Hosts Miko Lee and Jalena Keane-Lee highlighting the ways to celebrate in the Bay Area and beyond. Listen interviews with Plague at the Golden Gate, filmmakers Li-Shin Yu and James Chan and the creatives behind Alameda’s Island City Waterways Uprooted Janet Koike and Kimi Okada. Check out the extensive curated calendar listings here: Community Calendar (all events wheelchair accessible) Generations of Power, United States of Asian America festival Running May – June Island City Waterways, Uprooted May 21 & 22, 2022 Four performances each day at 10am, 11:45am, 1:30pm, and 3:15pm Takes place at Alameda Point’s West Mall FREE FOR ALL AGES (advance registration required at islandcitywaterways.org) Plague at the Golden Gate Tuesday, May 24, 2022 on PBS (check local listings) FREE – PBS.org Forever, Chinatown FREE – Available at your local library on Kanopy Patrick Landeza & Sons Concert Thursday, May 12, 8 p.m. – Yoshi’s, Oakland Tickets $25-49 CAAMFest 2022 Premiere Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival May 12-22, 2022 San Francisco and Berkeley General admission, free to $14; Special presentations,$20-$65 We Are Bruce Lee Chinatown Historical Society of America Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond A-Doc, WORLD Channel and CAAM co-produced a series of AAPI shorts FREE online Running through May 2022 140th Anniversary of Chinese Exclusion Act Events Exclusion/Inclusion Video art projection by Felicia Low & Ben Wood Fort Mason Center for the Arts May 6 8-10:30pm FREE Standing Strong: 140 Years After the Chinese Exclusion Act Two short films by Felicia Lowe: What’s Your Real Name? and Carved in Silence And Artists Summer Mei Ling Lee’s and Stephan Xie’s “In Honor of Our Belonging,” a procession and remembrance of survivors of anti-Asian hate. Chinese Culture Center San Francisco Chinatown. Saturday, May 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Chinese Pioneers Exhibit CA Historical Society of America May 6-13, 2022 The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin SF Playhouse May 4-15 SHOW TRANSCRIPTS – Explore AAPI Heritage Month [00:00:00] Opening: Asian Pacific expression. Unity and cultural coverage, music and calendar revisions influences Asian Pacific Islander. It’s time to get on board. The Apex Express. Good evening. You’re tuned in to Apex Express. [00:00:18] Jalena Keane-Lee: We’re bringing you an Asian American Pacific Islander view from the Bay and around the world. We are your hosts, Miko Lee and Jalena Keane-lee the powerlee girls, a mother daughter team, In honor of Asian-American Pacific Islander heritage month, we’re highlighting the ways that you can celebrate in the bay area and beyond. We’ve done interviews with plague at the golden gate filmmakers LiShin Yu and James Chan and the creatives behind Alamedas island city waterways uprooted Janet Kokoi and Kimi Okada . [00:00:57] Miko Lee: Welcome to apex express, Kimi Okada & Janet Koeki. We’re so excited to have you both here. Tell us about this great new collaboration that you all are working on with island city waterways. Why don’t you start first, Janet talking to us about the third year of this event and how this came to be. Island city waterways is a site-specific immersive performance that celebrates Alameda’s unique waterfront. And this is the third year. It tells a story about different. Sections of the waterfront. And this year it will be out at the former Alameda Naval air station now called Alameda point. The stories that we’ll be telling come out of the land are inspired by this enormous chunk of land. And they will. They will span from stories of being uprooted to the pioneers of aviation, being uprooted of people, uprooted to become pilots during the war. A story of Vietnam veteran and Kimmy’s beautiful story of newlyweds interned during world war II. We have we have ODC dance 13th floor, the dance theater company. My ensemble Maze Daiko, which will have wonderful guest artists, taiko players from San Jose taiko joining us well, nine drummers and marimba and violin Akita Tonna will bring a swing trio and Ed Holmes. A veteran of the San Francisco mime troupe is the writer and also he’s performing. Okay. Kimi your term. Janet approached me about participating in this site-specific work specifically about Japanese Americans. My parents were both incarcerated in world war II and my parents were from the Sacramento area. They had been married literally for two weeks before they were relocated and went to camp Walerga outside of Sacramento. And then were relocated to Tule Lake in the Eastern Sierras. My mother was a civil servant and had done a lot of secretarial administrative work. And she kept copious copies of everything she ever wrote. She had a file and a notebook full of onion skin, carbon copies. That were letters to everybody that she ever wrote from camp. I was fortunate enough to have the letters because she had carbon copies of them all. So they were obviously sad, but I was able to really put together many letters of hers that she read sometimes multiple times a day to different people describing in intimate detail the life at camp at not only to lead like, but at camp . And this is, a young Japanese American needs, a woman who had just been married, who was spending basically her honeymoon in relocation camp. My mother was a real wonderfully wry. Writer and person and full of whimsy and great observation. And the letters are really a treasure trove for me and understanding what the experience was really like. And I think that the Japanese are usually reticent about expressing overt emotion, but there is so much. Under the surface of the actual words themselves that give you insight at least gave me insight to what the experience was like. And so this piece is really about examining the life examining how people were able to cope, especially my parents and my mother what the challenges were, what the, what the great injustices were, obviously. How do you get through that? How do you how do you find a way to be resilient? Who do you depend on, what are the hardships? So much about how we resist, how we find relevance, how we become resilient, how we how do we survive basically? Can I jump in here and add. That wonderful story. The piece that my ensemble is presenting is called the heart of the mountain inspired by poems written by the touchdown, a game shop, a group of Issei who were interned at heart mountain relocation camp. And Tachibana Ganesha means standing flower poetry group. And that really captures what came in with referring to this resilience is the ability to still maintain some of the joy of seeing the beauty in life and these poems, a lot of them are connected to nature. So one, an example of one is along the Hammond. This mountain skirt, autumn, and our prison camp. Another at the end of a fishing line, a trout leaps and cavort one small life trying to make an escape. So just amazing to me how you can be in turn and yet find this beauty in the moment. And these groups would be say, first generation Japanese. We’re able to do that very eloquently. These poems will be on display at our gallery in June. Along with some of Kimmy’s mother’s letters. One of the interesting things about presenting this at the Naval air station in Alameda is that because Alameda’s location and having the Naval base. The Japanese that lived in Alameda where some of the first to be interned and Alameda along with many other cities lost a Japan town that was small, but thriving before the war. I have been able to work with the Alameda Japanese American community. We presented. Japan town Artwalk to bring back those memories and everyone, including myself, was surprised that there was this Japan town before, and it really did bring a lot of awareness to the local community in a really nice way. And ODC presented the WorkFirst workshop version of May’s letters that they will be performing. Island city waterways. [00:07:41] Miko Lee: So last year, you two, in a way, began this collaboration with that Japan town Artwalk really reclaiming this erased history of Japanese in Alameda. What was the community’s response to that piece? It was amazing. I had been working with the community to support them in getting historic markers put up in this lost Japan Town area. The Artwalk was supposed to be a culminatiom of that work. The whole community came out and they don’t come out for that many things. One man said, my gosh, where did all these people come from? These two women approached me halfway in tears and they said, thank you. We’ve been waiting our whole life for this. [00:08:28] Miko Lee: Kimi, how is this piece? The second part of that? Last year, when you’re doing this, reclaiming this at raised histories, and you told some of your mom’s letters, May’s letters how is this piece? The second part of that. Yes, definitely. I think that doing it in the Artwalk in Japan town in Alameda, that it was really an incredible opportunity to offer a little mini skeleton version of what this piece could be. It was only 10 minutes long and our piece pieces twice as long in this version and it’s, Had honestly we have very little rehearsal time and we, really, of course I’ve been thinking about this for years, so it wasn’t that I hadn’t given it lots of thought, but really with the company we had, not that much rehearsal time. And so we really put something together that was based on a lot of ideas, obviously generated from the letters. But that now going into this phase where we’re actually able to make. A bigger piece that has sets and a lot of props and it’s outside and there’s a wonderful site at the Alameda Naval base. That’s a kind of barracks, empty poles, skeleton structure that we’re using. It’s just a tamp, a chance to go much deeper into things that we scratch the surface before. And, I think what we’re trying to really do in this one is to make sure. Really a kind of love story about a relationship, which is my parents and, the fact that they had to go through all the awkwardness of being a newlywed couple in the fishbowl of relocation camp with no privacy and, feeling. So new and such a new world and a new relationship and, obviously an extraordinary circumstances. So really trying to make a human experience and not be general, but be specific. And obviously the letters are the perfect jumping off point for that. So I would say it’s a great opportunity to go deeper. It was wonderful to have that chance to put something out there, to see what it looked like, do the period costumes work. Does the text work, do the, the ambient sound score noises of how we Tina Blaine did the sound score, which is really wonderful combination of everything from forties tunes to drumming, to Japanese folk songs, to ambient noises of eating and construction sounds. And, it’s like a music concrete score of of everyday life which has also been really fun to work on and Kimmy as a follow-up to that. [00:10:54] Miko Lee: When did you first find out about these letters? How old were you or when did your mom pass them on. My mom, like many sansei I think our, the third generation our parents, the needs, they were often reluctant to speak about their camp experiences with any negativity, which I think the Sansei found really difficult to understand, like how could you possibly have put up with that injustice and been so docile and, be willing to do that. And I remember. Thinking that, when I was in my twenties that because I grew up in the era of social and political protest and it was like, what, how could this possibly be? , I knew that my parents had been incarcerated, but I didn’t realize. No, what that meant. I grew up in Minnesota where there weren’t there wasn’t an Asian American community at all. My father died when I was quite young. So my mother would say, make references about her family life, about being in camp and what that was like, but wasn’t terribly specific about it. And it was really later in my late teen years that I was going, coming across family archives that I really came up with this is a notebook full of carbon copies of all the letters. And then it was like, wow. And then being able to really read what my mother had written every day about the, my nudists detail of what it was like to be there. So really my consciousness was really not I would say it wasn’t, it didn’t really come into being until I was, much older as a teenager. [00:12:29] Miko Lee: And you found this book of onion, skin letters. And then did you bring it to your mom and say, mom, what is this about? I did. And I said, I can’t believe that I didn’t know that these existed. And she said, oh yeah my mom was a real character and a, a total eccentric. I grew up in a house that, Crazy. Things all over the house. My mother was a hoarder and never threw anything away. And so things were buried all over my house. So this was not unusual that I didn’t see anything. Because I did not grow up in a tidy house. And I said, I can’t believe that I haven’t read it. She said, oh yeah, I, I keep records. I kept records of everything. She was very not dismissive, but, It was just like another part of something that she had done and that it was not an unusual thing to have done that. And my mother was not a writer per se, but she was but she loved this. She loved words she loved to read. She was she loved, she was very social and but never classically educated. But she, she. I said, oh yeah. You were interested in those. I was just kinda surprised that I wasn’t even interested in them. [00:13:34] Miko Lee: And then did you talk to her about utilizing them into your artwork? No, my mother died in 1988 and so I never. At that point had never even considered making them into anything. So I never, she never knew that I would, that those were going to be source material for something that I would be making. [00:13:54] Miko Lee: Janet, can you talk about this year? Because this is the third year you’ve worked on it. What is it about the theme this year that makes it different from previous year? It’s the theme connects to the location of the waterfront area. The first show that we did span between the Fruitvale bridge and park street bridge and Alameda. And that was an area that was a title canal was built there and they made Alameda become an island. And so we decided to talk about. Everyone who came to settle in Alameda and broaden the history of this little this smaller town whose who had a very limited immigrant story connected to it. We worked with a local historian and expanded that history to include. The range of cultures that came there, and so with that theme was how did you get here? And the second one we did at crab Cove, which is a beautiful beach that once has Neptune beach amusement park, and then a merchant Marine training camp. We are inspired by the land itself and this, because it was at the Naval air station. Certainly brought to mind world war two and a topic that was very close to my heart. Because of course my family and I thought of Kimi because I’ve known her for many years and gotten to work with her in different capacities, but just, by intuition, it just seemed like the right thing to do. And she told me about her mother’s letters and it was. [00:15:34] Miko Lee: Can you tell us Janet, what to expect P this is this event. That’s a two day event. It’s free May 21st and 22nd is at Alameda point. And it features all these different elements. Tell people what to expect when they show up at Alameda point, what will they see? What they will do is sign up at a registration table and you will be part of their. Guides to guide you three different groups. And it is a 75 minute program, you will go from seeing the history of the early pioneers of aviation. A story told about that by dance created by 13th floor. You’ll get to see some taiko and hear about jimmy Doolittle, a local Alameda hero. You’ll hear a radio performance about all the wars that came through there and particularly how the Vietnam war changed things. It’s a immersive experience. There’s going to be music and then you’re taken away on a journey to tule Lake internment camp. Just be ready to immerse herself and an experience. It’s just a unique experience. That you have to be there and then it’ll never be again. So it’s one of those special moments of art, and we’re really trying to use art to connect people to each other. And the land that they’re standing on at the place that. There’s great resonance in actually being at a site where so much history occurred and that to actually be on the ground that other people stood on for many different events that happen there. The Japanese Americans were herded there in red in getting ready to be shipped off. For instance, and you know that at that actually. Happened there and that, that we’re standing on that ground, that there’s something pretty meaningful about that. [00:17:35] Miko Lee: So you’re really focused on that literal space in Alameda, when you’re talking about the people who were drafted there, the military families, the Japanese American families that were rounded up for incarceration, the workers that worked there, all of the different people that held space in that land, you’re going to be referring to. And doing poetry and music and dance and theater about is that right?. That sounds pretty good. Yeah. [00:18:03] Miko Lee: And when folks are coming to this show, what should they know? How should they show up at this show? I imagine they gotta have some walking shoes on. They do, they should know that they’ll have to stand and walk for 75 minutes, but they won’t even notice because they’ll be so engaged. And they’ll have to. Be willing to be outside and enjoy a beautiful may day. I’m hoping for good weather. There’s no reason to expect. Otherwise it might get a little windy. You might want to bring a hat bring some water, but I think just to be ready to and open for a wonderful experience. [00:18:46] Miko Lee: Okay. We’ll have links to this in our show notes. So people can go to this amazing event having a point Alameda that’s island, city waterways, and the productions title uprooted. And my last question for both of you is because we are celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander heritage month. This month of may. What is the legacy of your AAPI heritage that you carry with you every day? Kimi. How about you start? I think it’s a deep cultural legacy that I, as an artist I feel very connected to. Japanese art as an expression of the human condition in all its capacities. my mother wasn’t an artist. She was very artistic and led a very artistic life in terms of how she perceived things and how she loved, not just the performing arts, but all of the arts. I feel deeply grateful that I have cultural legacy that is rooted in Japanese culture. And even though I am now a third generation Japanese, I feel grateful that was able to be passed on, even though I grew up in the Midwest and like in a totally non Asian environment. So I’m deeply grateful for that. [00:20:05] Miko Lee: Thank you, Janet, what about you? What is the Asian American heritage, the legacy that you carry with you? Like Kimi, I grew up, although I grew up in LA, I was in, and I was one of 14 out of 5,000 at my high school who were Asian. I didn’t have that kind of connection either. I didn’t get it until I started working with San Jose taiko in the nineties, and they just introduced me to the joy of working together. I had always been an artist of a more Western approach. I’m independent and opinionated, but the joy of working as a team working in a way that you are always aware of everybody else and the greater good was amazing. There is a quality of joy there that I had not quite experienced before. And that is being carried over into what we’re performing. In may, because I’m getting to play with what, who I consider my taiko family. And it’s a bond that’s just really deep. Thank you both so much for joining us on apex express. [00:21:20] Miko Lee: We are looking forward to seeing the show. Next up, listen to, come on. Let’s go by mark E Xu. Okay, that was, come on. Let’s go by mark E Xu. And next up Mikko talks to filmmakers leash in you and James Chan about their latest project plague at the golden gate. [00:23:27] Miko Lee: Welcome filmmakers Li-Shin and you and James Chan to apex express. Thanks. I’m so excited to hear you both talk about your latest film plague at the golden gate, which is about the bubonic plague that happened in 1900 and the impact that it had on anti-Asian sentiment in San Francisco. So firstly, I want to start with you. What, how did you first hear about this story? [00:23:53] Li-Shin Yu: This story actually came to me. Yeah. American experience. They were looking for some projects that had some science component to it and came across this book written by David, Kate Rendell called black death and the golden gate. And through camp center for Asian American media there in the bay area they were looking for Directors to produce this film as it is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown. So they wanted someone who was of Asian, Chinese background to tell the story, this complex story that was based in Chinatown and. As James’ office often say we did a film about a pandemic during a pandemic, and there’s a lot of resonances today. Most of which is the knee jerk finger pointing and blaming. That takes place. But so American experience came to me. I of, I actually did not know this history, but immediately thought what an incredible story to tell. Jumped on it and again, through cam suggestions and connected me to James, which was just such a great partner on this. [00:25:12] Miko Lee: And James, you joined in as a producer. Can you talk a little bit more about the timeframe for creating this film and what was going on? I think the average documentary takes four years, but this doesn’t seem like it follows that Frameline. What was the timeline for making plague at the golden? [00:25:31] James Chan: Miko this was one of the fastest turnarounds on a film project that we’ve both worked on, leisha. And it was a concentrated one year, a year and a couple of months maybe. And so one thing that was that kind of expedited, this. It was very topical. It helps when you have a film that’s already financed and that, that made everything a little bit easier. We were fortunate because we had a blueprint for what the film was going to be. It was there’s three books written. The first one is by Maryland chase local journalist and writer. She wrote the book called the Barbary plague that came out in the early 2000. Then there was a author by the name of Gunter Risa who wrote, played fear and politics in San Francisco. And the third book that was optioned by American experience was black death. That the golden. And so with a film that’s already financed with a film that’s already been written about. We had a blueprint. So the hardest job for us was making a film about an epidemic during the middle of a pandemic. When everything was shut down, institutions, libraries, archives, archival houses, they were all shut down. So we weren’t able to access most of them. We were blessed that we were able to be connected through community researchers who did a bulk of their research, passed it onto us. Then we dived into what the story was. And the story really took off when we met the descendants of the two scientists that we were following. [00:27:18] Miko Lee: How did you get connected to those two scientists? The descendants? [00:27:21] Li-Shin Yu: We were so in the books we, that James mentioned, many of them cited David Morens, who had written a monograph on one of scientists, Joseph, James Kenyan. We reach out to him and he. In his research had been in touch with the great-grandchildren who divided amongst them both have this full collection of documentation, photographs beakers from the 1900. And just a treasure trove of material. And then as well David ley, who is local to San Francisco, absolute incredible historian or San Francisco’s Chinatown, then connected us to Luke squam in Oakland. Who also is a great grandson of new hing, who is a merchant at the time, 1900 and had a factory in Chinatown and during the lockdown was impacted. We had these three families the other was Rupert blue, whose great-grand nephew also had a treasure trove of letters. We were in touch with and Bravo to James, really build a trust between us and them. And they just completely opened up their doors to us and allowed us into their homes, digging through their archives and allowing us to film it and talk to them about this history. It’s just that incredible journey. [00:29:06] James Chan: It really was. It really wasn’t along the way during this shutdown, when everything was all remote. A lot of the community that came through, we found lots of friends. To the project. They provided us with contacts to one member from the community, another member to the community. And suddenly like we, even though that we have this blueprint, it was putting together all of this rich viral. Community history. And Bruce Kwan is one of them. And Bruce Kwan doesn’t show up in any of these three books. So it’s an amalgamation. This film plague at the golden gate is an amalgamation of community stories community like archival materials, as well as documented and preserved materials from Nara archives. Yeah. San Francisco public library. They were, it’s a special shout out and thank you to them because out of all of the institutions that were close to the public, they actually allowed us to come in safely, of course to look through the valuable archives. And so with deep, thanks to. [00:30:16] Miko Lee: You both are talking about this relationship building and really connecting with the ancestors of the three kind of men during that time that made an impact. And one of the things I think that takes documentary so long is developing those relationships. How are you able to speed that process to be able to make a film and morning. [00:30:38] Li-Shin Yu: Yeah. I think a lot of that road work had been done and laid out for us, David , who is the trusted community member just have deep breach into the community as does James, in San Francisco. And I’m here in New York. So a lot of that legwork was done by James, just, meeting up, talking about the project. On the surface, this seems like a story about two federal scientists who were coming in to try to control this outbreak, but so much of the interaction interface on the community level. Has to do with who are these people? That the community, the context of this interaction was really important for us to to have the audience understand that. These are people, these are not numbers. And we need to understand the context of Chinese exclusion, how this community was marginalized and restricted, and the fear that the community had. Throughout the decades and how the interaction with the white doctors had. So it was important for us to find a community member who was alive then and the interaction and their reaction, the community had to ha to the handling of this outbreak by the federal doctors. So James really did a fantastic job. Not only with Bruce qualm, but with other community members who just created a sense of what it was like for the Chinese living in Chinatown at the time. And it’s I’m really grateful and happy how that had come through. [00:32:32] James Chan: I think the a lot of thanks is given to the community because, as filmmakers our job is to get up close and personal with those who are sharing their stories with us. And so our role as filming. Is to get up close and personal and never cross that line into exploitation. And so what we get to enjoy, and the privilege that we have is that we get to validate our community’s stories when they share it with us. And so in a way we serve our community through film and it takes trust-building, it takes a lot of time to build the to have somebody come on camera and share their stories because culturally we are told from our grandparents and our parents and our culture, not to overshare, not to oh, don’t cry. Don’t overshare because, it’s not right. So in relationship building, we bring. That’s the difference between having us make this. About about the subject is because we can take it from our lens and apply it into a perspective similar to the two scientists in the film they tackled. How they interacted with Chinatown was very specifically different. One came in with a whole full on entourage because he was afraid of Chinatown. He was. Distrustful of the community. He like many public health officers during that time in 1900 deemed Chinatown to be a laboratory of infection. And and then you have the other character that, that comes in after Kenyon Dr. Rupert blue, he comes to Chinatown and he’s actually walking for Chinatown on his own and he’s engaged. With the community. He’s actually having conversations with them without a huge entourage protecting. [00:34:25] Miko Lee: I appreciate it. Just the way that you two laid out the characters and Dr. Blue really seemed like this Maverick dude who was a boxer and, and just really wanting to get down and connected to the community. And I also appreciate how you lifted up the Chinese American man who really helped make the direct connection with the community. I’m going to change a track a little bit, and I’m just wondering how much the current COVID-19 pandemic played a role in how you both decided to tell the story. [00:34:55] Li-Shin Yu: I think the current situation with so much Asian hate. I think it’s one degree of separation for all of us who know someone who has suffered some, whether it’s just verbal insults or something more severe. It’s really shocking and frightening. And I think I think that is why the more important to describe the context in which of 1900 of where to Chinatown residents where there that the state of fear and distrust that was rampant in the community was, the exclusion law was passed in 1882 and there, after. Enormous violence was committed to communities across the west. And it’s a 10 year renewal. It was renewed in 1892 in which then Chinese need to carry a photograph. Identity card, which was the first time ever in the U S and 1902 was next, renewable coming up. So there’s this increasing pressure on the community is just deeply felt. And the plague in Honolulu in Quitch chinatown was burnt down. All of that was wearing, weighing on the community and that threat was very real. So we definitely want it to have that context be understood to understand why the community responded the way it did, why the community rejected, mandatory vaccination, using a vaccine that was at best experimental, it was only 50% efficacy rate at a time where vaccination was not very understood. So to science was new. The handling of the situation was not fully developed. And deep fear and mistrust. We very much want that to be understood so that the reaction of the community is not misconstrued. [00:37:12] James Chan: And exactly what Li-Shin was saying there’s common threads to today’s pandemic, but also throughout the history of San Francisco, Chinatown beginning with like smallpox epidemic and in 1876, where all the way through to, be bionic plague in 1900. 1918 influenza, which was then incorrectly labeled as the Spanish flu. Then all the way to in between aids epidemic, they were othering and labeling and targeting a community to blame. The aids epidemic was blamed on the gay community. SARS, Ebola. COVID the China flu, the Chinese community fluctuates from being labeled as a medical menace to model minority and then full circle back again to medical medicine throughout the history of time. So in a sense, history repeats itself through like ignorance and greed and a distrust of science and facts. We made this film. As an evergreen film, basically to Offer a mirror because unfortunately unknown diseases are going to appear and reappear again, as we can see all these different variance. This film Li-Shin brilliantly mapped it out. We turn the lens basically focusing solely on the 1900 bubonic plague outbreak, because there’s a lot of similarities and a lot of common threads that we can pull from from various diseases throughout the history here in the U S. [00:38:47] Miko Lee: Yeah, it made me also think a lot about how government manipulates or utilizes data to work with a certain population. I’m thinking like the Tuskegee, airman and other kind of examples of the kind of government system. And in this case, the government system was in odds with itself when you have the medical professional and then the governor who didn’t want to who were battling each other and what to do in San Francisco. I’m just wondering if there are other elements that you felt like shined a light on what is happening right now and how people have been using the COVID-19 pandemic to really roll out new policies. [00:39:31] Li-Shin Yu: Yeah, I think, it always seemingly comes out to be a political problem, back then there was, as you were saying, there’s well, whose authority should one to us? Is that the federal or is it the local and very much we’re at a time where federal and local. Authority clash is really high right now. How do we solve this political issue where you base your information on facts and not think that well, because of economic reasons or whatever, as long as I scream it loud enough, or often enough about a false truth, that it will become the truth and them be able to create policies based on that. And so much of of that was happening back then and throughout time. And brilliant. John Paulo said, we make science do business that it has no business doing using science to create policy based on erroneous facts or this information, and so it really is. Coming down to knowing our facts so that we create policy that’s based on facts and data. But it seems to be a difficult thing to actually bring about. And we continue to be fighting that today. [00:41:12] Miko Lee: I’m wondering if you’ve had any government or particularly like surgeon generals or medical professionals, watch the film and provide a response to you all. [00:41:24] James Chan: That would be great, right? I think our work is that, we ultimately, you can shop like Li-Shin said, you can shout it as loud as you can, but that’s not going to necessarily move those public policy folks who make these decisions. And so being able to connect to them in a deeper. A humanitarian way of revealing certain stories from the community that constantly gets repeated. Hopefully one day it connects with them in and it lands. Going to the root source, which is the heartstrings the mind versus punctuating every single detail and saying it loudly, there’s this quietness of okay the community fought back in a way, like after a while, like they, they use the newspaper that shows that about newspapers. To their defense. This was their way of being able to unify their voices. If you have a collective, like the Chinatown community coming together in one unified voice, it really sends a message to those in power. And during 19th century San Francisco health officials and politicians, they saw Chinatown as a place for Like urban sickness, crime, poverty, and contamination. Since Chinatown community wasn’t able to like own property. They rented from mainly white landlords who charged exorbitant rent and refuse to do maintenance and repairs. And some of these landlords were like mayors may feeling during that time owned property and Chinatown. And he was one of the advocates. Relocating Chinatown to Butchertown later on in, in his campaign for Senator, which we don’t go into in the film, but it’s just the backstory of research that we’ve done that solidifies for us that how resilient that San Francisco Chinatown community is continues to be and have been for all these years. [00:43:17] Miko Lee: You don’t go into that detail in the film. We do very much get a sense of the deep research that you all did. And also this idea that a lot of it was manipulated in terms of the politics of how the boundary lines were drawn. And so I think I’m curious about. Going back to the two scientists that you focus on. Because they’re both pretty renowned just in the medical profession. One of them being the first surgeon general, have there been other films on these two scientists? [00:43:46] Li-Shin Yu: Not that I’m aware of. Yeah, they’re really Rupert blues, actually the fourth and our film, it sounds like the first, but it hits the forcers in general. And as James was saying, he is the, the soft science guy who actually. Made an impact, whereas to a hard science guy, the forefather of the national Institute of health was someone who had the knowledge, had the facts, but was resisted by politicians and the commercial Greedy essentially of San Francisco. Powerbrokers we’re like we can’t say we have a disease here. That’s going to cause business for us. So there, there is, as James always reminded us in in the process of making this film is to think about the intention and the. The intention of denying what is the impact, the intention of pushing the hard science on the community without developing a relationship and what is the impact of that? So that is something that I think we, today need to also continue to think about as we face these issues. [00:45:02] Miko Lee: I don’t know what your distribution plan is, but you all should check into medical school ethics programs. They should totally be showing this film for discussion purposes about what does public health mean and what is the what’s the responsibility of public health officials? Li-Shin. And you have this incredible background as an editor. Award-winning how does being an editor impact your directing style? [00:45:31] Li-Shin Yu: It’s so interesting on some level. It is I understood the material we needed to. And also understanding it’s a story from 19 hundreds. So the, there is a scarcity on some level, there is hardly any moving image. So the idea is how do we express that? So there are these tableaus that we created, the, how to visually. Try to bring a place us back in, in time. But on the other hand, having put on the director’s hat, I found myself actually needing and needing an editor who has the full editors hat on to help me tell this story in a way that is clear. And concise and to the point. So I’m really grateful for the incredible Mickey Watson, Evan Millmore, who was on ESSA editor and Suzanne Kim, but this incredible writer who can phrase something in. Concise and nuance way so that, our narration did not need to be a paragraph long to explain the complexity of the story. So I’m really grateful for those two. Power of collaboration and absolutely, such a dream team I had. And I’m really grateful for cam for pointing to all these great talents out to me and also, for American experience for trusting these sort of first timers to their selection of filmmakers. Hopefully there will be more in the future. [00:47:18] James Chan: What Li-Shin brings up is a really special Piece of this film, the make of this film is created on the front lines by creative, Asian American women at the front director editor. Writer, we had a executive in charge, Yuri Chung. It’s executive produced by a BiPAP woman in charge at American experience for the first time in their history, cameo George. And so this film is also. Filmed by the cinematographer Claire majors, who is a bay area, a female cinematographer, and the whole entire crew is practically based of Asian American women. It is sound is like you had a sound recorder. You had assistant cameras. So this is a very special film. The subject matter. Yes. We’re following two white male scientists. Yes. We’re also seeing the resilience of the Chinatown men in the community because of historical history. But we are seeing it told from the perspective of all the powerful creative Asian women in the front. I just came along, mess things up. Sorry. I wanted that. That’s a specialness to this film. That is incredible because if it was in anybody else’s hands, it would have had a different take. The community Chinatown community would probably be skimmed over. So yeah, it needs to be. So as like it’s a deeply personal and spiritual film to witness leash in and action. And when you asked Leisha and about her role as an editor, Transitioning to a director. I’ve learned from Leisha and on this film that she there’s, we all know what the Ken burns effect is. The Ken burns effect is that you take a narco photograph and you zoom in and out and you move and post production. But what Lee shin does, that’s really exciting too, to witness in this film is that she takes the archival pictures and images and she builds these altered. On a tabletop and working with the cinematographer, she skims across all these details of these archives and you get a sense, a personalized connection, a deeper, meaningful connection that is filmed at the beginning during production, instead of building it during post. [00:49:56] Miko Lee: Thank you for describing that, James. Also you’re a filmmaker and I really loved your short film forever Chinatown focused on the miniature artists, Frank Wong. I’m wondering if you’re still in touch with. [00:50:08] James Chan: Thank you for asking. Thank you for watching that, Phil. I really appreciate it. I am not in contact with Frank. Unfortunately I would have loved to have remained in contact with him. I think through the, from the initial screening, when we had it in San Francisco, Chinatown, we premiered it. Frank gave it a standing ovation and loved the film. And then through the years he wanted to just take a little step back from the limelight and he’s still like around the city, but I think he had an issue with the film after a while because he didn’t like the way that it was portrayed in terms of it didn’t felt like a documentary to him. He felt like it was a docu-drama and in a way it hurt my feelings because it was like, oh, I was trying to mirror. Your creation of these miniature worlds were part memory and parts historical artifacts and part like loosely based on, on, on readings that you did. Unfortunately I am not in contact with him currently, but I am in contact once in a while with his gods, God son Jeremy’s done. [00:51:12] Miko Lee: I think it’s beautiful and I totally get the touch of the memory and his vision. I think it’s quite poetic. So thank you for sharing that. And that film is available. Actually through the library system on Kanopy. So folks can watch that and folks can catch plague at the golden gate on PBS and that’s coming up. Li-Shin, do you want to tell us about the dates for. [00:51:39] Li-Shin Yu: Yes. It’s may 24 Tuesday evening on American experience. It, the time slot is nine central, but please check your local listings for when am I beyond in your area? [00:51:53] Miko Lee: Thank you. Both award women, winning filmmakers, Leisha, and you and James Chen. My very last question, because this is May celebrating Asian American heritage month is what is the part of your Asian American legacy that you carry with you each day? Li-Shin. And I’m going to go to you for I [00:52:14] Li-Shin Yu: I think just that the fact to be proud of my heritage. As James mentioned earlier, we’re often taught to be invisible. I think this is not the time to be that way. And so to carry ourselves probably forward. Thank you. [00:52:33] Miko Lee: What about you, James? [00:52:35] James Chan: The part of the Asian American legacy that I carry with me is serve the community, call your call. Family remain connected, lift one another up and unapologetically celebrate being Asian. And we deserve each other. We are Here for, for what Li-Shin and I do is again we are blessed to be able to be filmmakers, to represent our community. It is such a joy to be able to validate a person’s story and be able to honor that by sharing in the love of community and the love of our ancestry. So lift one another up, call your neighbors, make and checking on your elders in your community. [00:53:22] Miko Lee: Thank you both for spending time with me. Next up, listen to polka dots by Mark Izu. That was polka dots by Mark Izu. in addition to the film and Alameda event that we spoke about tonight. Check out our website kpfa.org/programs/apex express to see our extensive curated aapi month calendar This year marks the a hundred and 40th anniversary of the Chinese exclusion act. The Chinese exclusion act destroyed all, but pre-existing Chinese communities for nearly six decades. While it failed to actually end Chinese migration. It barred Chinese people in the United States from naturalization drove migration underground, increased human trafficking and added to the physical and psychological dangers that already accompanied the jury to United States. There are events happening all over the bay area to mark this moment in history, including films, a play and site-specific performances at angel island Fort Mason center. And in Chinatown. Also check out the annual United States of Asian-America festival, which runs from may through June. It’s the 25th anniversary. And this year’s theme is generations of power. Which explores the following. How can we harness the legacies of power that have been built to reten the soil seeds of yesterday and tomorrow for AAPI communities? How is AAPI power rooted in cultivating solidarity among our BiPAP communities and how do our communities intersect? There are 20 different programs, reflecting the artistic and cultural diversity in all disciplines, theater, music, dance, film, literature, and visual arts. More events on our website and happy asian american pacific heritage month to all our listeners out there [00:55:55] Miko Lee: Thank you so much for joining us. Please check out our website, kpfa.org backslash program, backslash apex express to find out more about the show tonight and to find out how you can take direct action. We thank all of you listeners out there. Keep resisting, keep organizing, keep creating and sharing your visions with the world. Your voices are important. Apex express is produced by Miko Lee Jalena Keane-Lee and Paige Chung and special editing by Swati Rayasam. Thank you so much to the KPFA staff for their support have a great night. The post APEX Express – 5.5.22 Explore AAPI Heritage Events appeared first on KPFA.

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