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PacArts Hosts Online Discussion For ‘The Paradise We Are Looking For’

May 31 event closes out Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration

Photo credit: PacArts

One of the four stories in the documentary "The Paradise We Are Looking For" involves a 20th South Bay High School Reunion.

Pacific Arts Movement is closing out its May Madness celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month on Sunday, May 31, with a live Q-and-A event with the filmmakers from "The Paradise We Are Looking For."

Last year PacArts commissioned the film "The Paradise We Are Looking For" and screened it for opening night of its 20th San Diego Asian Film Festival. Now, with the coronavirus keeping cinemas closed, people will have a chance to enjoy the four-part documentary online as part of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

PacArts artistic director Brian Hu explained that one of the reasons he chose to highlight the film is as a complement to the PBS documentary "Asian Americans."

"It's getting a lot of attention and we love that documentary in the sense that it is pioneering," Hu said. "It's put together by people we really respect and it's nice to have as a one resource in five hours, centuries of Asian American history. But obviously that's a history that can't even be told in five hours, and that's an excess of what's like respectable and appropriate history. At PacArts, we are fans of the inappropriate history, like the kinds of marginal tales that are often not included in the textbooks of Asian-American history."

In my favorite segment, "Bidyoke," filmmaker Joseph Manga explores karaoke culture and one particular karaoke restaurant in National City. His segment hooked me from its opening scene where a man explains that people have been killed for singing "My Way" wrong. It's those kinds of passions I find fascinating.

Then Quyên Nguyen-Le’s "The Morning Passing on El Cajón Boulevard" looks to a City Heights mortuary that helps refugee families grieve.

PacArts sees film not just as entertainment but also as a means of giving voice to Asian American and Pacific Islander stories, which is especially important now as the pandemic is causing a rise in anti-Asian hate crime.

"A couple months ago when the COVID-19 situation started to escalate a lot of people of Asian descent were suddenly looked at as potential spreaders of the disease or worse yet, were considered it was their fault somehow. Despite the fact that most Asian-Americans, the people of Asian descent in the United States, live here, they're American citizens, they have their residence here. Why would they, more than anybody else, be susceptible to the disease or to have it? But there has been a lot of anti-Asian violence and desecration of property including here in San Diego. And so at a time in which we're looked at with some scrutiny, it's not to say that we want to show that we're perfect, but it's rather that we are human like anybody else. And we believe we live in a neighborhood with everybody else. And we should honor those histories and those connections and through them realize that we're all in this together."

You can watch "The Paradise We Are Looking For" through Vimeo on Demand for $5 at any time. To participate in the free zoom Q&A on Sunday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m. with you need to register online with PacArts. The post film discussion includes all four filmmakers, Norbert Shieh, Quyên Nguyen-Le, Joe Mangat, and RJ Lozada, and will be moderated by AsAm News' Erin Chew. Hu will also be on the panel.

Listen to this story by Beth Accomando.


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Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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