Barb Lee and Vancouver Asian Film Festival in Vancouver Sun today

Asian Film festival faces annual struggle: Founder Barb Lee still runs the event as a volunteer, though it now has some sponsors

-by Lynn McNamara – Vancouver Sun

Check out page D1 and D2 of Today's Vancouver Sun for Monday March
7th.  It's a story about the struggles of the VAFF, in a setting
where we should have more support for a Film Festival that shows
positive roles for Asian actors, and especially shows North American
made films made by North American Asian actors (yes – there are such
things… My great grand Uncle Luke was an actor in old
Hollywood in movies with Gary Cooper and Katherine Hepburn, Clark Gable
and Bela Lugosi.) 

Hopefully the VAFF can access some of BC Renaissance grant money
coming to the BC Arts Council to create and endowment fund for the
VAFF.  Barb Lee points out that while the Toronto Film
Festival recieves $20,000 to $30,000 from the Canada Council every
year, Vancouver recieves only $3,000 to $5,000.

Barb Lee is an amazing person – truly!  She has a vision to
create a film festival that highlights Asians in film – in
English.  And to show films made by and featuring Canadians and
Americans of Asian ancestry – not just imported films from Asia. 
Barb has an energy and a presence that betrays her tenacity and resolve
to create her dream.  We were both paid a high compliment last
year, by Jane Chalmers, Director of CBC Radio English Language
Programming at a CBC breakfast meeting for leaders in the Asian
community.  Jane said that we had both caught CBC's attention, and
that they were watching us.  Now the next step is to create some
story proposals for CBC and help further integrate the history and
issues of Canadians who just happen to be of Asian ancestry.

When I was a teenager the only Asians I saw on television were Hop
Sing, the Chinese cook on Bonanza and the housekeeper/Nanny on The
Courtship of Eddie's Father.  Once on Bewitched, a siamese cat was
turned into a human which I think was played by Nancy Kwan.  And
then there was always Kung Fu, or The King and I, where Asians were all
in the supporting roles.  So… domestics, villans, dragon ladies
and china dolls… until Bruce Lee came along, and changed Asian cinema
forever!

There are so many Chinese-CANADIAN organizations now in Vancouver
that promote and explore Canadian-born artists of Asian ancestry, such
as Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, and the Vancouver Asian Canadian
Theatre, ExplorASIAN festival by the Vancouver Asian History Month
Society and many others… that it really may be time for us to
create a Asian Canadian Arts Alliance, and help to develop each other's
audience and share ideas and resources.  We have been doing
precisely this, with Rice Paper Magazine, ACWW, Asian Heritage Month
and Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  By working together and piggybacking
our events and marketing, we find we are able to accomplish more while
sharing resources.

 

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