Jeff Chiba Stearns (far right) gives fist bumps to Todd Wong, Jason Karman and Julia Kwan. Jeff's film “One Big Hapa Family” closed out the 14th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival
Film maker Angelina Cantado (centre) attended the screening of her film Sikat on Friday Night's program “Promised Lands“, which featured Phillipine-North American films. “Sikat” is a tender story about a Filipina domestic worker, who looks after the two children and does the laundry of a middle class Canadian family. It is
Chinese Canadian WW2 veterans came on Sunday afternoon for the screening of Redress Remixed. Left to right: Frank Wong, Tommy Wong, ??, Lesley Chan, Alec Louie, Todd Wong. Frank Wong is interviewed in the movie, directed by Lesley Chan
Lt. Watada is a film about an US soldier who refused to go to deploy to Iraq, because he felt that
the war is illegal and a violation of his constitutional oath. “Watada described the war as illegal
and immoral and founded on deception. and offered twice to go to Afghanistan – a war he considered
legitimate – but his commanders said that granting such a request would
mean there was something wrong with the war in Iraq.” – This film screened on Saturday.
The buzz was big for the fully-packed theatre closing night screening of One Big Hapa Family, preceded by a short film titled Ode to a Post-It Note, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 3M invention.
Festival favourite Jeff Chiba
Stearns, an independent documentary and animation filmmaker born in
Kelowna, BC of both Japanese and European descent, explores the
complexity of family and heritage in this program. Stearns’ latest
feature film ONEBIG HAPAFAMILY tackles
themes of race and identity which are expressed through his unique
style of mixing traditional documentary footage with animation and
humour. Preceding ONE BIG HAPAFAMILY is
Stearns’ whimsical short ODE
TO A POST-IT NOTE
in which a
Post-it Note decides on Father’s Day to search for its roots.
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Jeff
Jeff Chiba Stearns is an independent
documentary filmmaker and animator born in Kelowna, BC, of Japanese and
European heritage. After graduating from the Emily Carr Institute of Art
and Design with a Degree in Film Animation in 2001, he founded
Mediating Bunny Studio Inc., specializing in creating animation,
documentary, and experimental films aimed at children and adults that
combine different philosophical and social elements together to create
humorous, inspiring stories. His animated shorts, KIP ANDKYLE (2000), THEHORROR
(2001), WHATARE YOUANYWAYS? (2005) and YELLOW STICKYNOTES (2007)
hve been the official selection of hundreds of film festivals around
the world, garnerered various awards and accolades, and broadcast on the CBC, Discovery Latin
Channel, Movie Central, Air Canada and Movieola.
Director/Writer: Jeff Chiba Stearns | Producer:
Documentary | HDCAM |
2010 | 85 min |
After a realization at a family
reunion, half-Japanese Canadian filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns embarks on a
journey of self-discovery to find out why everyone
in his Japanese-Canadian family married interracially after his
This feature-length live action and
animated documentary explores why almost 100 per cent of
Japanese-Canadians are marrying interracially, the highest of any
ethnicity in Canada, and how their mixed children perceive their unique
The stories from four generations of a
Japanese-Canadian family come to life through the use of innovative
animation techniques created by some of Canada’s hottest independent
animators, including Louise Johnson, Ben Meinhardt, Todd Ramsay, Kunal
Sen and Jonathan Ng. ONE BIG HAPAFAMILY
challenges our perceptions of purity and makes us question if we are
approaching the end of multiculturalism as we know it.
| DIRECTOR IN ATTENDANCE
Screenings/Awards: OMNI TV (3 part
There are some very interesting films scheduled for the 14th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival.
Catching my eye are the films that cross cultural boundaries or deal with Chinese Canadian history.
Check out the programs for
1. Opening Night
2. Promise Lands
3. Places and Spaces Fri. Nov. 5th, 9:30 PM
- These films explore place and identity. Dark and urban New York City is explored by lonely souls in WORKS OF ART and EMPIRE CORNER. In I DON’T SLEEP I DREAM, the protagonist must navigate a surreal, deserted road and in TAKEO the idyllic rolling landscape of midwestern United States is contrasted by a struggle for survival and revenge. But Hawaii's Oahu island is the setting for Ajumma! Are You Krazy?? – a study about the 'older ladies' who are addicted to Korean tv dramas and will stop at nothing to meet their latest heartthrob, hunky Korean superstar Michael Park.
4. An Activist's Life: AOKI Sat. Nov. 6th, 11:00 AM
Did you know that a Japanese American man is one of the founders of the Black Panthers, in the USA? Find out how Richard Aoki, a Japanese-American internment descendent, grows up in African-American dominated Oakland, and becomes a leading figure in the Asian-American Movement.
5. Lt. Watada
6. Lost and Foundations
7P. Mighty Asian Shorts Sat. Nov. 6th, 4:30 PM
- This is always lots of fun. Vancouver area aspiring film makers create quirky shorts. This year one of my my library colleagues was part of a team that won first prize. Catch the Ko-Ni-Chi-Wa, which explores what happens when an Asian-Canadian woman witnesses White Asianphiles hitting on Asian ESL students… she dresses up as an ESL student and guess what happens?
8. Loss and Reunion
9P. Love Wins Out
10. Centrepiece: Sing China!
11P. Au Revoir Taipei
12. It's a “Mad, Sad & Bad” World
13. Made in Vancouver
14. Canada Apologizes
Redress Remix: Canada’s Apology For The Chinese Head Tax – I attended the special preview for this film which interviews our family friend WW2 veteran Frank Wong. I was part of the Vancouver committee for Head Tax Redress descendants. Trevor Chan (No Luck Club), created a very interesting mash of hip hop beats and people's quotes. Also interviewed from Toronto are Dr. Joseph Wong the founding president of the Chinese Canadian National Council; and Simon Li, former CBC radio host who now teaches Chinese Canadian history to students in Hong Kong.
15. Closing Night Sun. Nov. 7th, 7:00 PM
- I got to know film animator Jeff Chiba Stearns when he created “What Are You Anyways” which comically explored the relevations of mistaken assumed ethnic heritage, when you grow up Hapa, or Half-Asian/Half-Caucasian. I quickly invited Jeff to share “What Are You Anyway” with the audience at the annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner – especially when the main character was drawn with a Chinese coolie hat, and holding bagpipes. ONE BIG HAPA FAMILY explores the journey when Jeff attends a family reunion, and explores why everybody in the family is in a inter-racial relationship, thus creating generations of Hapa children.
Great news for BC history and genealogy buffs. The CBC documentary about the Rev. Chan Family descendants is being shown at Heart of the City Festival on Oct 28.
http://www.heartofthecityfestival.com/program/thursday-october-28/ Film & Conversation THE
REV. CHAN FAMILY LEGACY: Five Generations of Vancouver Chinese
History 1888 to 2007 Thursday October 28, 7:30pm Chinese Cultural
Centre Museum & Archives, 555 Columbia
The Chan family
first came to Canada to help start the Chinese Methodist Church and
every generation since has made contributions to Canadian society. In
2007, filmmaker Halya Kuchmij interviewed members of one of the oldest
families on the West Coast and made a documentary about the stories and
achievements of Reverend & Mrs. Chan, their sons Luke Chan
(Hollywood actor) and Jack Chan (golfer); grandchildren Helen Lee and
Victor Wong (WW2 veteran); great-grandchildren Gary Lee (entertainer)
and Janice Wong (artist); and great-great grandchildren Todd Wong
(community and cultural activist) and Tracey Hinder (high school
student). The many turns of the Chan family reflect the challenges of
exclusion, the fight for rights, the strength of family and citizenship,
and the right to vote. The festival is pleased to show The Chan
Legacy, directed by Halya Kuchmij, from the CBC Learning
Generations Series (2007, 43:37) and we are fortunate to have Todd Wong
moderate the conversation afterwards. Todd is a descendent of Reverend
Chan and the creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, the annual celebration of
Chinese New Year and Robbie Burns Day (www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com) -
an event that marries two cultures that once lived completely separate
in the early days of British Columbia. Everyone welcome. Free
This was the lead show in the CBC Generations series that aired on July 4th 2007. The purpose was to interview multigenerational families across Canada, and help tell the story of Canada through the lives of that family.
I am a 5th generation great-great-grand son of Rev. Chan Yu Tan, and one of the featured stories. My grandmother's sister Helen Lee and cousin Victor Wong are both interviewed and tell stories about their grandparents Rev. & Mrs. Chan Yu Tan, whom they respectively lived with and visited as children.
Victor Wong is a WW2 veteran and shares stories about becoming a soldier for Special Forces operations with his cousins Howard and Leonard Lee, while Dan Lee was one of the first Chinese Canadians in the Airforce. All this happened at a time when Canadians of Chinese ancestry were not allowed to vote in Canada, until after the Chinese-Canadian veterans returned from WW2 and lobbied the Canadian government to repeal the 1925 Chinese Exclusion Act.
Gary Lee, also tells stories about Rev. Chan's sons Luke Chan, who became an actor in Hollywood, and Jack Chan – an avid golfer and the first Chinese Canadian to serve on jury duty.
Artist Janice Wong is shown working and attending book launches for her recipe/memoir book “Chow: From China to Canada: Memories of Food + Family” – which shares the history of the Rev. Chan family through her father Dennis Wong, chef of Chinese restaurants in Sasketchewan, son of the Rev's daughter Rose, and Victor's brother.
13 year old Tracey Hinder is seen winning the inaugural Vancouver area Canspell contest. Tracey goes on to compete at the National Canspell in Ottawa and the Scripps in Washington DC. Tracey is interviewed as a high school student, dedicated to learning about her community and family histoy.
Todd Wong is a community and cultural activist, known for creating Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner. Excerpts from the CBC produced television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” are shown along with Todd's community commitments including the saving of the Historic Joy Kogawa House, Terry Fox Run, and dragon boat racing.
Ann-Marie Fleming is the brilliant animator/film
maker and graphic artist of “The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam” – which
we featured at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year
Dinner a few years ago….
Ann-Marie's great-grandfather was the legendary vaudeville magician, Long Tack Sam. Her great-grandmother was his Austrian wife. Her family ancestry comes from around the world, and she describes herself as hybrid – both DNA-wise, historically and culturally.
Ann Marie Fleming strums her uke
prior to the Vancouver International Film Festival, which screens her
animated short I Was A Child of Holocaust Survivors Oct. 11.
Photograph by: Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver courier
Ann Marie Fleming is no stranger to the Vancouver
International Film Festival both as a past volunteer and a filmmaker
whose works have included feature films (The French Guy), documentaries
(The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam) and animated shorts such as this
year's I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors. The talented artist and
aspiring ukulele player talked to the Courier about her latest film,
her eclectic background and why “tongue on a hot rock” is not a
1. What about Bernice Eisenstein's memoir I Was a Child of Holocaust
Survivors made you want to adapt it into an animated short?
It's an amazing book. b) I was asked to. c) I thought I could bring
something to it.
2. Was there anything about the subject matter
you related to?
There is something everyone can relate to: it's
about family. For me, I'm constantly interested in the continuing
legacy of WWII, the burden of the history, cross-over immigration
patterns and cultural diaspora, older generations not telling their
stories-but-somehow-you're-still-living-in-them, trying to find your
own way. I think it has universal relevance and resonance.
Your background is quite diverse (born in Okinawa, of Chinese and
Australian parentage, your great grandfather was a travelling Chinese
vaudevillian acrobat and magician). How does this inform or influence
Well, I'm kind of a hybrid, and so is the work I
do–thematically and technically. And I am very curious about people's
histories and backgrounds and what that represents in geopolitical
terms. I'm such a cultural mash-up that I can relate to just about
anybody's story. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Way back in 2002, Linda had initiated a project proposal on the Three Canadian Chinese Pioneer Families at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives – but had moved to Alberta, before the project really started. Linda was also a guest speaker at our 2nd Rev. Chan Legacy Family Reunion dinner in 2000. In 2002, she was also part of our board for Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop that created the 1st ACWW Community Builders Dinner that honoured Roy Mah, Paul Yee and Wayson Choy.
Back on April 6th, Linda wrote to me:
I guess the guy who came up with the idea of ‘six degrees of
separation’ was right – the world is much smaller than we think.
Now that you’ve written, I’m going to hit you up for some
help. I have almost accomplished the impossible – the museum is on the
brink of giving me permission to do my Chinese Restaurant project. It
doesn’t look anything like the project I was working on at the CCCMA – I
think it’s a better version. I was wondering though if you knew anyone
with memorabilia related to Chinese restaurants – ideally someone with a menu
collection. I don’t need
a huge number of them but a few would be nice.
If you had any leads it would be appreciated. Maybe one day
I’ll be able to attend another Gunghaggis banquet but I always just seem to
miss the date.
Toddish McWong takes his kilt to Squamish Nation Pow Wow
Here I am trying to learn a simple First Nations dance step from my 2nd cousin Shelley on my right, as we dance in the closing event at the 23rd Annual Squamish Nation Pow Wow.
I had never been to a First Nations Pow Wow before, so when my 2nd cousin Shelley sent me a Facebook message about the 23rd Annual Squamish Nation Pow Wow, and that she was going to watch her nieces compete in dance competition, I knew I had to be there.
The event was held at X̱wemelch'stn Park, also known as the Capilano Indian Reserve near the South end of Capilano Road in North Vancouver. I had grown up in North Vancouver since I was 14 years old, and have driven through the reserve many times going to Park Royal. I had only once before attended and event at the Capilano Longhouse once before in 1990, when the Squamish Nation presented David Suzuki with an eagle feather. Soon after, I visited Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) where I met carver Claude Davidson, father of renowned artist Robert Davidson, and also traveled to the ancient village site of Skedans.
When I was about 7 years old, my favorite book was titled “Indian Lore and Craft”, I became enamored of creating buckskin clothes, moccasins, face paint, bows and arrows and other accessories. But I never followed up.
Here I am with my cousin Shelley Ferguson.
Shelley's mother is Rhonda Larrabee is Chief of Qayqayt First Nations, and the subject of the NFB documentary Tribe of One. I have often written about Rhonda and her courage to re-establish the Qayqayt First Nations in New Westminster.
Shelley's nieces danced in the “jingle dance” competition. Latisha is on the left in blue and Alyssa is
in the middle in red. They both have been the Squamish Nation
I found lots of aspects of interculturalism happening at the Pow Wow: Click on each of the pictures for an enlargement on my Flickr account.
Here is a Japanese parasol being carried by one of the child dancers to keep the sun off.
The dancer on the left wears an RCMP serge tunic combined with leggings from an old Hudson's Bay Company blanket – very vintage. The dancer on the right has combined a red/green tartan cloth in both his hat and rustle.
These dancers' costumes are made from very colourful designs that resembled Tibetan designs.
Here are some of my favorite photos from the event:
This is the “Potato Dance Special” – you have to hold a potato between your forehead and your partner's. Then you are asked to keep doing dance movements, or lift your hands or feet into the air, or even jump! Last couple with a potato between their heads wins!
This young dancer is waiting for the Fancy Shawl dancer to begin
Male traditional dance
I love the expressions on these dancers with their painted faces. They are plains Indians.
Detail of a Rustle with eagle feathers.
Salmon dinner with traditional baked salmon, bannock and
Here is a video of two of my favorite male dancers at the event. The dancer with the Purple top, has a green & crimson red tartan as a loin cloth and also on his hat. The dancer with the eagle head mask is wearing a vintage RCMP red serge tunic with HBC blanket leggings. Watch the background for a female dancer in a red & black jingle dance costume – that's the niece of my cousin Shelley. At the end of the video, watch for a young boy in a white tunic with a yellow porcupine headdress with 2 eagle feathers – pretty intense performance, eh?
This video is a very intense… This is the two finalists for senior male fancy dance. It was a great way for the dance competitions to end!
am listening to the cd music of 15 year old
half-Chinese/half-Scottish 100% Canadian fiddle player Jocelyn
Pettit. Perfect for the recognition of Pioneer Chinese
and Scots who helped to build British Columbia.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jocelyn and her mother Siew, at the BC Highland Games last Saturday.
I had written:
and Siew. I am really enjoying listening to Jocelyn's cd. I can
hearing some good fiddle music at the games, looked over at the stage,
didn't see my Blackthorn friends… but a small trio or so. I love
sound on the cd. I cranked it up in the car.
Great that you have been on CBC Early Edition with Rick Cluff.
think Sheryl McKay's North By Northwest – would be perfect for you.
played my accordion with Blackthorn, and the Chinese-fusion group Silk
Music Ensemble. Hopefully one day, we can have you perform at my Gung
Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
We have spun off a CBC
Television performance special back in 2004, and I hope that it can be
expanded for the future. I can be seen playing my accordion in the CBC
documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy – about my
and the contributions that his subsequent descendants have made to
would like to purchase additional cd's to give out as gifts. I
up a review of the cd within the week. Please let me know when you are
in the Vancouver area, and I will blog the events.
Cheers, Todd Wong
Her father replied:
Thank you very much for your very nice
message. We really appreciate your kind words! I wish I had the
chance to meet you at the recent BC Highland Games and Scottish
Festival, as my
daughter, Jocelyn, and wife, Siew, were delighted to talk with you. You
have accomplished great achievements with your music performances, work
CBC, and special events production! Bravo for such fascinating and
remarkable work! We are keen to know more and participate!
Thank you for enjoying our music at the
Games & Scottish Festival, as well as on our recent debut CD. At
Games, we performed a short set and came ready for much more, in case
allowed. We were excited to perform with our newly-joined pipes player
(small/bellow pipes), and we had our guitar player as well (but no cello
for this show). The CD shows the diversity and versatility of Jocelyn's
music. Her original compositions are complex and beautifully layered in
sound texture, her arrangements of contemporary and traditional tunes
and delightful, and her choice of tunes and melodies is interesting and
engaging. Of course, I am a very proud dad, but far beyond my word, she
widely receiving praise for her ideas, innovation, and skills
her young age).
Thank you for the ideas you have
preceding our (sold-out) North Vancouver CD Release Concert (Shaw
Sheryl McKay was kind enough to play Jocelyn's “Morning Glory” on her
show. It was very much appreciated – Jocelyn is committed to making
her career, and along the way we learn of the many career-path
challenges (such as gaining recognition and opportunities, with
predominantly instrumental world/folk music). Definitely, thank you for
Thank you for writing up a review of
CD! That is really excellent! We are very appreciative of the word
getting out there, of Jocelyn's music and her music gift of exceptional
I chatted with VACT's founding creator Joyce Lam last week. There is big drama for this year's Etch-YOUR-SketchOFF2!#$%. One of last year's comedy sketch teams has split into two new teams for 2010. That's right… dramedy is happening! Members of last year's Darin' Joes, have formed new teams. Fane Tse has helped to form new team Angry Asian Men. Josette Jorge was also with Darin' Joes last year but has returned to SFUU Man Chu.
Will there be a comedic show down?
Other teams competing are: Beef Noodle Soup, Laughing Make Mind Dangerous, Banana Drama, Asians Bleed Red, The Yangzters.
Of special note: Tricia Collins is performing with SFUU MAN CHU. Tricia co-hosted the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner with me. She is one of my favorite Vancouver actresses – having performed in her solo show Gravity, as well as Firehall Theatre's Ecstasy of Rita Joe and Urban Ink Production's Hunted. She is also a writer, contributing to Ricepaper Magazine and Completely Mixed Up: An Asian North American Mixed Race Anthology.
35 performers will be on stage. Mostly Asians with some members of non-Asian minority groups, representing token inclusivity and plain old friendship between races.
those who have enjoyed our shows and want to support us financially –
we are recognizing our fans with special benefits. Depending on your
friendship level, you will receive premium reserved seating upgrades,
recognition in the programs, opening night tickets and invitations to
cast parties, signed productions posters and special concierge
ticketing services & privileges. Our way of saying thank you to