LAAPFF 2013: Mix-cultural Asians Find Their Roots

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews on 2013-05-22 03:03Z by Steven

LAAPFF 2013: Mix-cultural Asians Find Their Roots


Shako Liu

One common theme that has been echoing in some of the documentaries presented in Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is that mix-raced Asians either in the states or in an Asian country, or Asian immigrants are trying to find out who they are and what country they represent. The identity searching is a ever-green theme in the Asian American community which has 60 percent first-generation immigrants and the largest percentage of interracial marriage.

In the documentary Hafu, it explored the life of mix-raced Japanese in Japan. The film showed that about 2 million foreigners were living in Japan in 2010, constituting around 30,000 international marriages. Children from these marriages are called Hafu, a Japanese word evolved from the English word “half,” indicating half Japanese and half foreigner.

Japan strictly upholds the ideology of “one nation, one culture, one race.” It outcasts the mix-raced Japanese, who grew up there and speak the language perfectly. The film has profiled different mix-raced Japanese from all kinds of racial combination, background, age and both genders. It provides a deep and well-rounded view about the struggle they have and the questions they raise about their country and themselves. All of their stories are revolving around one question–“Who am I?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Hafu: The Mixed-Race Experience in Japan

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, Videos on 2013-04-11 21:33Z by Steven

Hafu: The Mixed-Race Experience in Japan

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
29th Edition
2013-05-02 through 2013-05-12

87 minutes
Directed by: Megumi Nishikura and Lara Perez Takagi
English, Japanese

Screening: Wednesday, 2013-05-08, 19:30 PDT (Local Time): National Center for the Preservation of Democracy

HAFU is more than a mere documentary about mixed race Japanese, or so called Hafu. The film seeks to break with the “one nation, one culture, one race” paradigm which has shaped much of contemporary Japan’s self-image, and makes a compelling argument for the hybrid reality of Japanese identity today. At the same time, Megumi Nishikura and Lara Perez Takagi, both Hafu themselves, render visible the hardship of those subjects who do not comfortably fit into common categories of belonging, and offer them a platform to be heard. What happens if my looks do not match my nationality, or if my language does not reflect my home country? Who defines the compatibility of subjects and their identities in the first place?

Most of the featured protagonists grew up in Japan, but cannot escape the role of the foreigner. As a Venezuelan citizen, Ed has to renew his visa every few years, despite being raised by his Japanese mother in Japan. Every time again, he is confronted with his identification as an outsider to Japanese society and the prospect of being expelled from the country he identifies both as home and hostile. Fusae is part of that same community of “foreigners within.” Part Korean and part Japanese, she appears with a strong sense of belonging at first, “I was born in Kobe, so this is where I want to work and pay taxes.” After a while, however, Fusae allows a deeper look into the traumatic experience of being mixed race in Japan and the tears she sheds reveal the inner turmoil that defines the lives of many other Hafus: of David, born to a Japanese father and Ghanaian mother, who surprised the other kids with the fact that his blood was not green, but red as theirs; of Sophia, who grew up in Australia ashamed of her bento box lunch and secretly wishing to be blond like her class mates. What all of the here depicted Hafus share, is the longing to belong. Not just to be acknowledged, as Ed puts it, but to be understood and accepted.

Feng-Mei Heberer

For more information, click here.

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