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Families and the Society


Families and the Society



MOSUO SISTERS, THE

By Marlo Poras

A tale of two sisters living in the shadow of two Chinas, this documentary by award-winning filmmaker Marlo Poras (Mai's America; Run Grany Run) follows Juma and Latso, young women from one of the world's last remaining matriarchal societies. Thrust into the worldwide economic downturn after losing jobs in Beijing and left with few options, they return to their remote Himalayan village. But growing exposure to modernity has irreparably altered traditions of the Mosuo, their tiny ethnic miniority, and home is not the same. Determined to keep their family out of poverty, one sister sacrifices her educational dreams and stays home to farm, while the other leaves, trying her luck in the city. The changes test them in unexpected ways. This visually stunning film highlights today's realities of women's lives and China's vast cultural and economic divides while offering rare views of a surviving matriarchy.

Reviews
  • "A well-shot, confidently crafted feature with the firm narrative drive of an old-fashioned novel, one that pulls its leading figures' fates at the fore . . . " - Dennis Harvey, Variety

  • "A quietly stunning portrait of modern China." - Boston Globe

  • "Does what good documentaries should: provide insight into the unseen." - Loren King, Rocky Mountain Outlook

    DVD (Mandarin/Mosuo/Tibetan, Color) / 2013 / 80 minutes

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    MOTHERS

    By XU Huijing

    Mothers is a gripping cinema verite documentary that shows how China's one-child policy plays out in the daily lives of women in a northern Chinese village.

    There are not a lot of job prospects in Ma, a community of 2,000 in Shanxi Province. Factories have closed, young people are leaving, and declining numbers are more of a problem than over-population. Still, town officials must strictly enforce the one-child policy. In the case of Ma, this means meeting an annual quota for the sterilization of women who have had more than one child.

    At the heart of the documentary lies a high stakes cat-and-mouse game. On one side are the male deputy mayor Zhang Guo-hong and the female local director of women's care, Zhang Qing-mei, On the other: a schoolteacher named Rong Rong who is a mother of two - and who has managed so far to avoid sterilization. Now - faced with the prospect of failing to meet their quota - Qing-mei and Guo-hong are determined to make sure Rong Rong doesn't outwit them again. They appear at her house early in the morning, try to track her down through her relatives (including a grandmother who emphatically berates Guo-hong), and hold out a carrot in the form of the residency papers she will need for her second child.

    Meanwhile, Qing-mei also travels through town on her red scooter, spreading the gospel of family planning at rallies and celebrations, and trying to exhort as many women as possible to submit to sterilization.

    Without resorting to voice-over, Mothers offers a powerful feminist perspective, as we watch men developing and enforcing reproductive policies for women. Here, women's bodies are not an ideological battleground, but the epicenter of the conflict over the most banal of undertakings: meeting a quota. Eventually, even Guo-hong admits to the camera, "We're just scared of losing our jobs. Do you think I am really committed to this?"

    Reviews
  • "A bold work of cinematic journalism and a gripping human interest story, Mothers is highly recommended." - Libertas Film Magazine

  • "Masterful... a most astonishing film!" - Next Projection

    DVD / 2013 / 68 minutes

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    BAY OF ALL SAINTS

    By Annie Eastman

    In Salvador, Bahia, next to one of Brazil's wealthiest cities, generations of impoverished families have lived in a community of palafitas , shacks built on stilts over the ocean bay. Under a government program to reclaim and restore the bay, hundreds of families face forced relocation.

    The stories of Geni, Jesus, and Dona Maria, three single mothers and their families shape this film's narrative as they confront uncertainty and insecurity. Each woman offers a perspective of hope and self-determination, often graced by humor, in facing frequently dire circumstances. As their community is almost completely torn down and paved over, each begins to fight anew for the future. Filmed over six years, this extraordinary documentary offers fresh insights into environmental justice and notions of home for citizens bypassed by Brazil's economic boom. With the World Cup coming in 2014 and the Olympics two years later, this is an essential film for understanding a country that will soon be in the world spotlight.


    DVD (Portugese, Color) / 2012 / 74 minutes

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    MULBERRY CHILD

    By Susan Morgan Cooper

    MULBERRY CHILD is an adaptation to Jian Ping's book, Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Ping's memoir tells the tale of her experiences growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution. Written to bridge a growing emotional and cultural disconnect between Jian and her thoroughly Americanized daughter Lisa, the book recounts their family's journey of survival, from persecution and banishment to political rehabilitation, and its profound effects on Jian.

    This moving and beautifully shot documentary, artfully intertwines on-camera interviews with dramatic re-enactments, archival footage, rarely seen photos of China under Mao, and voice-over narration by Jacqueline Bissett. Book-ended by the story of Jian and Lisa's complicated relationship, their visit to China, and a joyful family reunion, MULBERRY CHILD addresses universal issues between mother and daughter, triumph and adversity and the clash between modernity and tradition. This film offers students and audiences alike a heartfelt window into and a greater understanding of the recent history of China, the Cultural Revolution and its impact on the Chinese and Chinese American immigrants.

    Reviews
  • "The film's subject matter is epochal..." - The New York Times

  • "The film's take on the immigrant experience is profound" - Variety

  • "Most evocative in its portrait of the unwarranted suffering wrought by Mao Tse-tung's Communist rule" - The Village Voice

    Awards
  • Bahamas Int'l Film Festival, Best Documentary
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival, Best of Fest
  • Port Townsend Film Festival, Special Jury Award
  • Santa Rosa Intl Film Festival, Cultural Discovery Award

    DVD (Chinese, Color) / 2011 / 85 minutes

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    QUEST FOR HONOR

    By Mary Ann Smothers Bruni

    There is an alarming rise in "honor killing," the heinous act of men killing daughters, sisters, and wives who threaten "family honor," which endangers tens of thousands of women in Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and adjoining countries. Global communication through satellite television, Internet, and cell phones has raised the expectations of young Middle Eastern women, who now are not content to marry a much older relative to their father might choose and live a life of servitude. While young women respond to new ideas from cyber pals in Los Angeles or episodes of popular Western sitcom, their fathers and brothers demand strict tribal justice for their acts.

    The Women's Media Center of Suleymaniyah, Iraq, has joined forces with Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to end the heinous practice of "honor killing" of women. First time filmmaker Mary Ann Smothers Bruni - who is an author and photographer - documents these horrible acts and the people who are fighting to end these senseless killings that take place in Kurdistan.

    Reviews
  • "...underscores the paradox that drives honor killing in Kurdistan. ... The film takes up several cases to illustrate the insidious permutations of "honor" in practice." - Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters, Director of Film & Media Studies, George Mason University

  • "...Bruni makes a point of tying the "uncivilized" custom of honor killing to violence against women worldwide and to domestic violence in the United States. The equation is worthy of contemplation." - Marcia G. Yerman, Huffington Post

  • "The documentary Quest For Honor not only penetrates [the] secretive and dangerous complicit male culture existing in Iraqi Kurdistan. But the mostly female crew courageously confronts hostility and death threats as they persist in their investigative mission to save lives. Constituting activist filmmaking at its most exemplary, both on and off camera." - Prairie Miller, News Blaze

    Award
  • Amsterdam Film Festival, Winner, Van Gogh Award

    DVD (Color) / 2009 / 63 minutes

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    THIS IS FAMILY

    What constitutes a family? How is the typical American family defined? How has the notion of gay families evolved over the past decades? Is there such a thing as a typical gay family?

    This fascinating and sometimes shocking documentary profiles the diversity of gay and transgender households in America today. With the aspirations and diverse ways of life for gay and alternative households changing so quickly, is society adapting fast enough to keep up with them?

    Each section of this video profiles different scenarios and cultures and shows how alternative lifestyles have lead to acceptable and happy lives. There are two mother, and two father families. There are shelters for children and young adults that have been "tossed out" of their traditional families because of sex changes and alternate lifestyles. How they have coped with family rejection and non-acceptance is described. This documentary will have an elementary school, high school, and university version available in late fall.


    DVD / 2009 / (Junior High, College) / 55 minues

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    INTERMARRIAGE: WHEN LOVE MEETS TRADITION

    By Ilana Bar-Din

    This penetrating documentary focuses on five young couples who face the problems and challenges of love, marriage, and raising children in an interfaith relationship.

    The couples in Intermarriage were all participants in a program for interfaith couples sponsored by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Led by a Rabbi, this course was designed to provide a Jewish orientation for couples who were not closely affiliated with the Jewish community. These men and women were filmed and interviewed over eight weeks as they examined their commitment to each other in light of their commitment to different religions.

    Intermarriage is intended to enable interfaith couples to discuss the conflicts and concerns of their relationships. It is an essential film for the couples and their families and friends faced with the problems of integrating two religious beliefs into one marriage. Raising crucial issues about life-long beliefs and the personal and public expressions of faith, Intermarriage should be seen by everyone who cares about their commitment to their spouse, their family, and their religion.


    DVD (Color) / 2008 / (Grade 7 or above) / 45 minutes

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    FOUR WIVES - ONE MAN

    By Nahid Persson

    From Nahid Persson, the filmmaker of the award-winning Prostitution Behind the Veil, comes an intimate portrait of a polygamist family in a rural Iranian village. Persson reveals the intricacies of the relationships between the four wives, their husband, their astoundingly free-spoken mother-in-law and their numerous children. Sometimes humorous and often heartbreaking, this film follows the daily lives of the wives whose situation has turned them into both bitter rivals and co-conspirators against their abusive husband.

    Persson's camera unobtrusively and beautifully captures the range of the family's interactions - from peaceful, pastoral scenes of a family picnic, to the temporary chaos caused by a broken faucet in the kitchen, to a furtive, whispered conversation between two wives about the latest beating. The women's work - making bread, weaving carpets, milking and herding the sheep - provide the background to their frank conversations. Avoiding sensationalism and sentimentality, this film provides unique insights into the practice of polygamy and its effect on the women involved.

    Reviews
  • "Challenge[s] both Western assumptions about Islamic women's oppression and the patriarchal social structures that shape their daily lives. The four women manage their relationships with each other with a keen sense of dignity as well as of the interdependence of their interests and those of their children." - Patricia White, Chair, Film & Media Studies, Swarthmore College

  • "Highly Recommended for classes in social and gender relations. Anyone interested in women's rights and family life around the world will find this documentary thought provoking ... Often funny, other times sorrowful, but at all times heartfelt, Four Wives - One Husband is beautifully shot in vivid cinematography." - EMRO Malcom L. Rigsby, Educational Media Reviews Online

    Note
  • Recontres International Documentary Film Festival
  • Denver International Film Festival
  • Locarno Int'l Film Festival, Critics' Week
  • Los Angeles Film Festival

    Award
  • SILVERDOCS

    DVD (Persian, Color) / 2007 / 76 minutes

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    VOICES FROM THE ATTIC

    By Debbie Goodstein

    A moving personal document of Holocaust remembrace from a second-generation American perspective.

    Filmmaker Debbie Goodstein travelled to Poland to explore the ordeal her mother and sixteen family members experienced when hiding in the attic of a peasant's home for two years during the Second World War. Though long a family secret, this grueling experience had continued to reverberate through the lives of those who survived it and was unconsciously passed on to the their offspring as well. Accompanied by her Aunt Sally Frishberg, who was one of the sixteen, and five of her cousins, Goodstein recorded this haunting, and ultimately liberating, voyage of discovery.

    Goodstein and her relatives visit the site of their hiding and talk to people who knew them and remember the war. The interviews and conversations are supplemented by archival footage, which shows what the town, or one very much like it, must have been like during those dark days. Perhaps most revealing, Aunt Sally shares her own often painful memories, providing a thoughtful and moving first-person account of the family's experiences.

    With its highly personal style and its exploration of the sometimes unconscious effects of the Holocaust on the next generation, Voices from the Attic is a unique and deeply affecting document that allows its audience to explore an overwhelming subject in an intimate and complexly meaningful way.

    Reviews
  • "A deeply moving experience, touching, sensitive, wise..." - Jeffrey Lyons, CBS

  • "In its understatement, honesty and fair-minded acknowledgment of both anti-Semitism and Christian decency, this excellent film is a moving return to a Poland still rippling with painful reminders of World War II. Although it starts out as the filmmaker's personal quest, Voices from the Attic grows into a healing experience for the audience as well." - Annette Insdorf, Author,Indelible Shadows

  • "A personal account that permits its audience to explore and otherwise overwhelming subject in a most intimate manner." - The Sun Sentinel

    DVD (Color) / 2007 / (Grade 7 or above) / 58 minutes

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    FROM A SILK COCOON

    Director: Stephen Holsapple

    Woven through letters, diary entries and haiku poetry is the story of a young couple whose shattered dreams and forsaken loyalties lead them to renounce their American citizenship while held in separate prison camps during World War II. They struggle to prove their innocence and fight deportation during a time of wartime hysteria and racial profiling.

    Among the 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in remote camps in the United States, many were kibei, or second generation Japanese Americans. Kibei were partially educated in Japan and often held dual citizenship. This documentary delves into the experience of a young kibei couple, Shizuko and Itaru Ina, who responded to the loss of their civil liberties by renouncing their American citizenship during their 4 1/2-year internment, and committed their hope for their children for a better life in Japan. It is based on personal documents discovered by Dr. Satsuki Ina, the film producer and daughter of Shizuko and Itaru, that detail a daily accounting of life and private emotional upheaval during incarceration, separation and reunification. It is a story of shattered dreams, forsaken loyalties and the precarious balance between democracy and national security.

    Reviews
  • "POWERFUL. I was impressed with the film's honesty with respect to renunciation issues. This is art on film, the poetry and narrative come together so perfectly. Bravo!" - John Christgau, author, Enemies: World War II Alien Internment

  • "...offers a cautionary tale of homeland security...FROM A SILK COCOON stretches beyond the basic facts of the Japanese American internment experience into the dark and thorny corners of a perceived 'military necessity' that is just as frightening and relevant now as it was when it happened." - Sacramento News & Review

    Awards
  • Emmy© Award, Outstanding Historical /Cultural Program/Special, Northern California Chapter of
  • National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
  • Silver Telly Award for Outstanding Documentary Program
  • Bronze Telly for Outstanding Cultural Program
  • Best Director Award, New York International Independent Film and Video Festival
  • Grand Festival Award, Berkeley Video & Film Festival

    DVD / 2005 / (Grades 11 or above) / 57 minutes

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    I FOR INDIA

    By Sandhya Suri

    I FOR INDIA is a chronicle of immigration in Britain, from the Sixties to the present day, as seen through the eyes of one Asian family and their movie camera.

    In 1965 Yash Pal Suri, a young doctor, left India for the U.K. with hopes of improving his family's life. The first thing he did upon arriving in England was to buy two Super 8mm cameras, two projectors and two reel-to-reel tape recorders. He sent one of each to his family in India, and kept the others for himself.

    Over the next forty years, through regular mailings of his filmed and taped thoughts and observations, he shared his new life abroad with family members back home, providing a unique record of the eccentricities-and occasional racism-of his new English hosts. Back in India, his relatives, in turn, responded with their own "cine-letters," sending tales of weddings, festivals and village life, along with impassioned pleas for his return.

    In addition to home movies, I FOR INDIA, directed by one of Suri's three daughters, uses archival and contemporary footage and excerpts from BBC TV programs (including The Dark Million, The Immigrant Doctors, and The End of the Line), which chart the changing national mood about immigration over the decades, from bemusement at the strange customs of the South Asian newcomers, to fears of British culture being "swamped," to right-wing protests demanding the expulsion of "colored" immigrants.

    By the end of the film, as Suri and his wife communicate today via webcam with a daughter who has relocated to Australia, I FOR INDIA becomes not only a bittersweet time capsule of cultural alienation, discovery, racism and belonging, but also a contemporary exploration of universal, emotionally compelling themes of family separation and the quest for personal happiness, wherever it may take you.

    Reviews
  • "Sandhya Suri strikes humanist gold in her feature-filmmaking debut... the film manages to lyrically explore the meaning of filial responsibility with a lasting but unsentimental tenderness... one of the richest documentaries of the year." - Aaron Hillis, The Village Voice

  • "Critic's Pick! Sandhya Suri's lyrical look at the life of her British-Indian expatriate family over the years¡Xmuch of it through home-movie footage¡Xcould have easily been an artless and self-indulgent wallow, but in the director's remarkably sure hands, it becomes a work of art." - New York Magazine

  • "A movie that's both deeply personal and surprisingly universal." - Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times

  • "From some of the most modest Families and the Societycome some of the best films... Suri's film is a loving tribute to her family that never feels like an invasion of their privacy, and a potent, heartfelt meditation on time, home and identity." - Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com

  • "3 stars. A ravishing film-on-film commentary, examining its cinematic subject as if it were one of life's most sacred connective tissues. " - Rob Humanick, Slant.com

  • "Rarely has 'home-movie' material been used in such a clever yet moving way. I FOR INDIA reminds us all that there are real people behind the terms 'immigrant' and 'alien.' It's a must-see for everyone." - Eric Monder, Film Journal International

  • "4 stars. A great documentary... compelling." - Michael Ferraro, Film Threat.com

  • "A profound and profoundly moving film that any director could be proud of ; as a debut, it's formidably accomplished." - Sight & Sound

  • "4 stars. A miraculous mini-epic... terrifically warm, watchable film-making." - The Guardian

  • "Intimate and rewarding...almost unbearably moving." - Justin Chang, Variety

  • "Emotionally gripping... smartly crafted and affecting." - Anthony Kaufman, indieWIRE

    Award
  • Charles C. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award, 2006 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

    DVD (Color) / 2005 / 70 minutes

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    BEAUTIFUL BLEND, A

    By David Hosley

    In the decades following the Supreme Court's 1967 decision to end laws making interracial marriage illegal, the United States has witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of mixed-race couples and of the multi-ethnic children born to them. As these segments of the population continue to expand and gain presence, more efforts have been made to understand the quality of their daily lives and their psychological development. Through interviews with interracial couples and their children, A BEAUTIFUL BLEND provides a forum for them to express their unique concerns regarding their multicultural backgrounds and their growing visibility in America.


    DVD / 2004 / (High School or above) / 27 minutes

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    MY AMERICAN FAMILY

    By Jerzy Sladkowski

    More than a century ago most members of the Merenda family emigrated to America from Paterno Calabro, a small village in southern Italy. Over the decades, the growing family's ties to their homeland deteriorated. In 2002, in an effort to restore the broken link, 70-year-old Gaetano Merenda and his wife decide to fly from Italy to Kansas to attend a family reunion.

    MY AMERICAN FAMILY shows them being joined by their son, Antonio, a documentary filmmaker living in Sweden, who first helps his father make a videodiary of the village to show to relatives in the U.S. and then chronicles their journey to America. During the trip they hope to answer questions surrounding Francesco 'Pirune' Merenda, the black sheep of the family, and one of the first to emigrate to America, but whose activities there remain cloaked in mystery.

    Gaetano and his wife, with their broken English and new video camera, become happily acquainted with American relatives, young and old, while their research into family history leads to revelations-of both a historical and personal nature-that none of them expected. Antonio, in particular, finds himself reassessing the importance of family traditions and the customs of his native village.

    MY AMERICAN FAMILY is a charming, heartwarming portrait, enlivened by imaginative 'Wild West' style animation of old family photos, illuminating views of Merenda family life in both Italy and America, Antonio's slyly humorous voice-over commentary, and a surprising solution, at last, to the mystery of 'Pirune,' the black sheep of the Merenda clan.

    The emotional appeal and universal truths of MY AMERICAN FAMILY will be appreciated by anyone, Italian or otherwise, who's ever been part of a family.

    More than a century ago most members of the Merenda family emigrated to America from Paterno Calabro, a small village in southern Italy. Over the decades, the growing family's ties to their homeland deteriorated. In 2002, in an effort to restore the broken link, 70-year-old Gaetano Merenda and his wife decide to fly from Italy to Kansas to attend a family reunion.

    MY AMERICAN FAMILY shows them being joined by their son, Antonio, a documentary filmmaker living in Sweden, who first helps his father make a videodiary of the village to show to relatives in the U.S. and then chronicles their journey to America. During the trip they hope to answer questions surrounding Francesco 'Pirune' Merenda, the black sheep of the family, and one of the first to emigrate to America, but whose activities there remain cloaked in mystery.

    Gaetano and his wife, with their broken English and new video camera, become happily acquainted with American relatives, young and old, while their research into family history leads to revelations-of both a historical and personal nature-that none of them expected. Antonio, in particular, finds himself reassessing the importance of family traditions and the customs of his native village.

    MY AMERICAN FAMILY is a charming, heartwarming portrait, enlivened by imaginative 'Wild West' style animation of old family photos, illuminating views of Merenda family life in both Italy and America, Antonio's slyly humorous voice-over commentary, and a surprising solution, at last, to the mystery of 'Pirune,' the black sheep of the Merenda clan.

    The emotional appeal and universal truths of MY AMERICAN FAMILY will be appreciated by anyone, Italian or otherwise, who's ever been part of a family.

    Review
  • "Highly Recommended! This delightful documentary explores the strength of that unseen bond that can only be created by sharing family ties. [The film's] warmth and vitality... are infectious." - Educational Media Reviews Online

    DVD (Color) / 2004 / 70 minutes

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    RED STRING, THE

    Director: Elizabeth Pearson Garr

    A Chinese parable says that a red string ties each mother with her baby, even if the child is born thousands of miles away. A baby girl is relinquished by her birth parents in China; she is adopted by an unmarried woman in the United States. What then?

    THE RED STRING takes an intimate look at how four mother-daughter pairs create and incorporate culture, heritage and tradition in their families. The mothers - three Caucasian and one Chinese American - and their young Chinese-born daughters share their thoughts and feelings about their choices, culture and single-parent families.

    Recommended for students in high school and up, staff development, families with adopted children, people considering adoption and community organizations.


    DVD / 2004 / 25 minutes

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    CHINA 21

    By Ruby Yang, Lambert Yam This eye-opening documentary follows four Chinese families as they step into the 21st century. Working without official permits, the filmmakers used compact digital video gear to record intimate portraits of ordinary people living in tumultuous times, capturing candid and sometimes emotional interviews. Families are small - one child in the city, two in the country - so children hold center stage. Veterans of the Cultural Revolution are saving up to send their son to business school. Another couple, whose son is a prize law student, glows with satisfaction. To insure his children's future, a peasant leaves his remote village to work in the quasi-legal urban job market. A farm family near Shanghai feels manhandled by the privatizing economy; they sacrifice to send their daughter to high school. CHINA 21 introduces otherwise anonymous people whose spark and initiative are changing their country.

    DVD / 2001 / 60 minutes

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    LETTERS FROM HOME

    Directed by Colleen Leung

    This personal documentary chronicles the journey of filmmaker Colleen Leung as she delves into a startling family secret. Her grandfather, a Chinese immigrant who became a successful businessman and raised a large family, was also a husband and father to a second family in China. He supported his overseas wife and children his entire life, but kept them a secret from his grandchildren.

    Shocked to discover the existence of this family of strangers, Leung travels to China to unravel the even more astonishing story. Photographs, letters and poignant memories of relatives on both sides of the ocean illuminate the economic and political circumstances surrounding a man with two wives living a continent apart.

    Against the historical backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution and Canada's Exclusion Act, Leung's extraordinary personal journey is also a rich exploration of heritage, family and the meaning of home


    DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2001 / 45 minutes

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    SILENT SACRIFICES: VOICES OF THE FILIPINO AMERICAN FAMILY

    Director: Patricia Heras

    An insightful study of Filipino American family dynamics and psychologies, SILENT SACRIFICES delves into the cultural conflicts Filipino immigrants and their American-born children encounter on a daily basis. Frank discussions between teens, young adults and their parents reveal how issues of ethnic identity and opposing Filipino and American values contribute to youths' bouts with depression, parenting difficulties and inter-generational misunderstandings. Intent on breaking the silence that allows dysfunctions to develop, the documentary and its accompanying educational guide offer an invaluable starting point for enhancing family communication within one of the country's fastest growing demographics.

    Review
  • "SILENT SACRIFICES has prompted Filipino American parents and their teenage children to talk, many for the first time, about the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and attempts among the commmnity's youngsters." - Union Tribune

    DVD / 2001 / 25 minutes

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    SPLIT HORN, THE

    Director: Taggart Siegel

    THE SPLIT HORN follows the emotional saga of Paja Thao, a Hmong shaman, and his family in the U.S. They were transplanted from the mountains of Laos during the Vietnam War to America's heartland. For more than 17 years, Siegel has chronicled the intimate and private lives of Paja Thao, his wife and their thirteen children.

    This candid and moving documentary focuses on Paja, whose spiritual leadership plays a vital role in Wisconsin's Hmong community. He ministers to the physical and spiritual needs of friends and family with elaborate rituals that bridge the natural and spirit worlds. However, as Paja's children have grown up, they begin losing touch with their father's 5,000-year-old traditions.

    This intimate family portrait explores universal issues of cultural transformation, spirituality and family. It is a rare close-up view of one Hmong family's resettlement and acculturation in America. Siegel captures a sense of sadness mingled with hope as the film delves into how ancient Hmong tradition struggles to survive in a new land and culture. Ultimately, the vital themes of family, community and culture, woven throughout the film, echo the concerns of many American families in contemporary times.

    Review
  • "THE SPLIT HORN is a remarkable achievement. An intimate exploration of family, place and culture, it tenderly reveals the complexities of assimilation in the United States..." - San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

    DVD / 2001 / 56 minutes

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    FAMILY AND SOCIAL LIFE IN CHINA

    This revealing look at how the Chinese relate to each other on a daily basis evaluates to what extent the Confucian ideal of family life really exists.

    DVD / 2000 / (Senior High, College) / 26 minutes

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    OUR HOUSE

    By Meema Spadola

    "I've spent my entire life explaining my family to people who just don't get it." - Ry, age 17

    "I have a lot of my own issues like school, friends, and sports. It annoys me 'cause time after time I have to keep on talking about [having gay fathers]. It would be so much better if everybody that asked me would be in one big room and I'd tell them and after that I wouldn't have to say it once more." - Daniel, age 13

    Today, there are millions of children in the United States being raised by gay and lesbian parents. These families are at the heart of debates in courtrooms, schools and places of worship around the country as Americans struggle to define family values.

    OUR HOUSE is a groundbreaking documentary that explores what it's like to grow up with gay or lesbian parents. Traveling to urban, rural and suburban communities in Arizona, Arkansas, New Jersey and New York, OUR HOUSE director Meema Spadola (the daughter of a lesbian mom) profiles the sons and daughters of five families - African American, Latino and white; Mormon, Christian, and Jewish - who illustrate some of the diversity of America's gay and lesbian families.

    Reviews
  • "An uplifting portrait of a situation clearly more common than some might think." - Entertainment Weekly

  • "What is refreshing about this series of interviews is the absence of politically correct answers. Both children and parents appear to speak from the heart, saying what they really feel rather than what they think the filmmakers might want to hear." - Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • "What Spadola mostly shows is how much these kids are real kids, romantic and smart and fun and bratty, and how much they are forced to think about what other kids don't have to and how they hate having to deal with the world's ideas about their parents." - San Francisco Examiner

  • "The kids and parents interviewed here are well-spoken and engaging... This tape could find a home in flush gay-issues collections, especially in light of its nice little viewer's guide. Recommended." - Video Librarian

  • "Enlightening... An excellent discussion prompter in school and other settings." - Booklist

  • "Highly recommended!" - Library Journal

    Awards
  • 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award, Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
  • Best Documentary, 2000 New York Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Outfest 2000: Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

    DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2000 / 56 minutes

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