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Controversial Oceanside Housing Project Approved, San Diego Scientist Warns Of ‘Climate Emergency,’ 50 Years Of ‘Sesame Street’ And More

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A housing project on Oceanside’s last remaining agricultural land was narrowly approved Wednesday. It had been rejected three times before. Plus, a San Diego scientist joins more than 11,000 climate researchers warning of a “climate emergency.” As the cost of a college education soars, more students in San Diego are choosing to go to college south of the border. As “Sesame Street” celebrates 50 years on the air, Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett reflects on the company’s mission and the impact of “Sesame Street.” And, San Diego Asian Film Festival opens Thursday as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Another development battle played out notion side last night with the city council voting to approve a major new housing project. The North river farms project in Morro Hills will bring 585 homes to what has traditionally been agricultural land in Oceanside. The vote passed the council on a three two vote. It was not supported by the ocean side planning commission and the public comments were reportedly largely against the new development journey me is San Diego union Tribune reporter Phil deal. Phil, welcome to the program.

Speaker 2: 00:33 Good morning. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 00:35 Give us some of the basics about this development. What kinds of homes are part of this proposal and what's on the site now?

Speaker 2: 00:43 Uh, well the site now is completely agricultural. There's a, they still grow tomatoes. They're mostly tomatoes, I think maybe some citrus and avocado. Um, and it's been that way for generations. Um, their proposal is to build all these sounds. They're separated into different villages with different types of housing. There's a village core that has like a meeting area and some commercial development, a restaurant and some other things. Um, so that's what's going there.

Speaker 1: 01:14 Now, apparently the developer changed this proposal a number of times to try to get approval. How did they sweeten the pot?

Speaker 2: 01:23 Well, um, it's been around for three or four years. When it started out, it was almost a thousand homes. So they reduced the total number of homes. A couple of times they have added land that will be preserved for habitat or for agriculture. There's a big emphasis on agriculture. It's going to have, uh, community gardens for the residents to use. It's gonna have educational or classes in, in farming and agriculture. And there's a big emphasis on the agriculture. Um, they've added more improvements to nearby streets. They've offered to, uh, set aside land for a fire station, which is badly needed in that area and help staff it. Um, so they've done several things like that to sweeten the pot.

Speaker 1: 02:14 Now one of the city council members who voted in support of the development, Chris Rodriguez is quoted as saying, this project will mean the difference between life and death for people in the area. What did he mean by that?

Speaker 2: 02:28 Well, I mean that could be a little hyperbole, but, um, he's essentially saying that people there don't have, there's not enough housing in that area. It badly needs housing. All of Oceanside does. And this'll be, um, homes for people who may not otherwise have them. I think that was his main point.

Speaker 1: 02:47 What are the other arguments in support of this project?

Speaker 2: 02:52 Um, there are other arguments would be that, uh, in support of it or just that it will help beef up some of the infrastructure there. They're going to help improve this sewer system, the water system, um, which at the for now, because it's mostly agriculture, I mean the lots are a minimum of two and a half acres, so there's not that many homes there. They're spread far apart. So the infrastructure systems like that are pretty minimal there.

Speaker 1: 03:20 That and the two city council members who voted no pointed that out and they were equally strong in their criticism of the project. Tell us what they had to say.

Speaker 2: 03:30 Um, well, Esther Sanchez, uh, was the most vocal critic of it and she calls it sprawl development because that area is a way from needed services like public transit. It's not really close to any, uh, trained stop or bus stop. Um, and it, she's concerned that it'll development will leap frog from there farther East and to more agricultural lands. And she and other, other residents want to promote the agricultural heritage of this area. And they say that this will just take that away.

Speaker 1: 04:12 Now I read in your report, Phil, that this was a very long public hearing before the Oceanside city council. Tell us about it. Was it contentious?

Speaker 2: 04:20 Yes, it was very contentious. There were 97 speakers, um, by one person's count. There were only about a third of those people were in favor of the project and some of those speakers were actual literally bused in by a supporter of the developer. And at times it got emotional. There were several breaks to take time out and let people cool off, I guess. Uh, but, uh, and it was a close decision. Three, two. So, and there was some tension because nobody knew for sure how it was going to end. It was not really clear how some of the council members would vote. And then in the end, uh, Peter Weiss, the mayor, uh, cast the deciding vote for the project

Speaker 1: 05:08 and what happens now? What's the next step in this?

Speaker 2: 05:11 Uh, I'm not sure they will need additional approvals for a lot of things. There are a lot of what they call discretionary permits. I think that they need for, uh, individuals, sites and individual projects. So there it'll be back for more. They will need more approvals for various things like, uh, site plans and um, building permits and things like that. Some of which will go to the city council. It does not go to the plant or to the coastal commission cause it's outside the coastal zone. Um, but essentially, I mean, this is the specific plan for the project and it's the general plan amendments that it needs. So these are all the, the biggest hurdles for the project. It really doesn't need a lot else to get started.

Speaker 1: 05:56 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune reporter Phil deal. Phil. Thank you.

Speaker 2: 06:01 You're welcome.

Speaker 3: 06:04 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 The Trump administration this week announced America's formal intent to withdraw from the Paris climate accord that was expected since the president announced the withdrawal months ago, but what was not expected this week was a declaration signed by more than 11,000 climate scientists that we are now in a climate crisis and climate change must now be measured in many ways, not just the higher temperatures at the earth surface as part of coverage from the KPBS climate change desk. Round table host Mark sours spoke via Skype with David Victor, who was a contributing reviewer on that paper. Victor is a climate researcher at the Scripps institution of oceanography and a professor of international relations at UC San Diego. Here's that interview.

Speaker 2: 00:47 We'll start with this report published in the journal bio science, this declaration by more than 11,000 climate scientists warning of a climate emergency. What's the core message here? Why isn't reporting on claiming surface temperature enough? Well, the core message is first of all, that we've been spending a lot of time talking about climate change and not doing very much. And part of the argument of this new paper is that the metrics we've used, but for judging progress have been too abstract. People don't really know what global average surface temperature means when it goes up a little bit. They don't understand the consequences. And so what this group is arguing or is, uh, is a whole selection of measures that are much more closely connected to what governments control, like emissions levels and also better indicators or how much stress we're putting on the planet aside from surface temperatures.

Speaker 2: 01:33 That metric that we've been used using for so long. What other metrics are you and your fellow scientists urging that we take a serious look at regularly? Well, one of the metrics that's, that's the most important indicator of the human stress on the climate system is ocean. He content, most of the heat that's building up that we call climate change is actually building up in the oceans at the Scripps institution of oceanography. We operate a network of autonomous submarines that now go out all around the the world's oceans and measure temperature at depth. So the data, they are very good. So that's one of the indicators going to be very important. Another indicator it's going to extremely important to pay closer attention to are are the measures of of emissions. That's ultimately what we need to change. Last year, global emissions were up about 2.7% per year.

Speaker 2: 02:18 They should be going down three, four, 5% per year. So the direction is wrong, let alone the magnitude and, and those are the indicators we really need to be paying closer attention to. And remind us of the Paris accord, what was called for in the Paris accord. Well, the Paris agreement called for a stopping global warming at well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels. That's a goal. The two degree goal has been around for a long time. It's Celsius of course Celsius. And the original logic was to set a simple global goal that was ambitious. Everybody could kind of point to that goal. And what's happened over the frankly decades is that while a lot of people have been talking about the goal, it's now become clear that we're going to blow through that goal and that the public doesn't really understand what this goal means. So these other metrics you think they should be the Paris accord should be expanded to include those?

Speaker 2: 03:07 Yeah, I think so. And, and several other scientists and I have been arguing this for several years and, and, and probably the reason for that is that the original goal set in the Paris accord stopping warming at two degrees and now it looks like we're not going to meet that. So we need to have a reckoning with the goals that are achievable. And then we also need your need, reframe those goals in terms that are better connected to what governments are going to willing and able to do to ultimately stop climate change. And in this, a research paper this week, uh, there were several steps being called for immediately by you and your fellow climate scientists to give us an idea of a couple of those. This team called for six steps. Overall, I think two of them are really important. One of them is a transformation in the energy system.

Speaker 2: 03:45 We can't stop global warming without completely transforming the way we use energy and I or culture, but it's really about energy and it's converting the energy system from simple fossil fuels to either a alternatives that don't use fossil fuels or capturing the pollution from fossil fuels before it goes in the atmosphere. That's one. And the other one, much more immediate is serious action on what are called short-lived climate pollutants like SUT methane. These are pollutants that are very potent, have very potent impact on climate change that have short atmospheric lifetimes. And the reason they're so important is because you're gonna make a big difference very quickly by controlling these pollutants. This is an area, and interestingly enough, where California has been a leader and part of California's foreign policy strategy on climate change has been to help the rest of the world be a better follower.

Speaker 2: 04:28 And how effective you think it'll be to publicize the various various climate metrics besides surface temperature. How effective in changing people's minds about the urgency to act? Well, we've been hammering on this argument for a while and it's starting to have an impact. I think initially there's going to be actually a lot of resistance. People don't want to recognize that the goals we've set in agreements like the Paris Accords, that those goals are not achievable. And so my expectation is it's going to be resistance initially and then over a period of years folks are gonna come around and you know, meanwhile emissions keep growing and the climate problem gets worse. Yeah. And I don't, we really talking about worldwide, a failure in leadership here, political leadership, the will to try to change people's minds and get them to act. Yeah, I think leadership's really important. I've come to recognize that followership is actually even more important.

Speaker 2: 05:14 One of the big ironies in climate change is that there are some places like California and many European countries that are doing a lot in the way of leadership, but we account for only a small fraction of global emissions. California's less than 1% and the more we do, the smaller fraction is. So everything we do as leaders needs to be evaluated through the lens of whether it, it increases the probability that other parts of the world do something similar and follow. And why do you think most people aren't truly alarmed already as the media generally failed on this issue? Too much time wasted on the false debate, debate over the validity and cause of climate change? No, that debates and important debate, and this is a complex topic, I think fundamentally most people don't see the consequences of climate change yet that it's not palpable what we're experienced in California with these fires, what we've seen with extreme storms and other parts of the country, uh, heatwaves and other parts of the world.

Speaker 2: 06:06 Those are the, the kind of front data points of this transformation in the climate. And so my expectation is that as this becomes more palpable, that public awareness is going to become more reliably behind the need for action. The big problem is that then there are huge delays from the period when, when serious actions begin nationwide, globally eventually. And we actually began to bend down the curves that the emission curves and ultimately stop the growth in, in emissions in the atmosphere. And scientists themselves, they for so many for a long time seemed reluctant to describe this crisis for what it is that's certainly changed. Yeah, it's changed. I think the scientific community's pretty frustrated that the evidence that this was a serious problem has been there for a long, long time. It keeps getting better. We keep learning about frankly, scary things that, uh, that could go wrong as the climate changes even faster. And I think more scientists are fed up with this. I think it's also, it's, it's uncomfortable for scientists to talk about terms like crisis cause nobody really knows what it means. And I think one, one of the things that's interesting about this new paper is you've got a large number of scientists who are willing to say, you know what? This really is a crisis. We need to, to have much more aggressive and serious action. I've been speaking with climate researcher David Victor of the Scripps institution of oceanography at UC San Diego. Thanks very much. It's my pleasure.

Speaker 1: 00:02 The high cost of attending college is a problem everywhere, but that's compounded in California where housing costs for students can put higher education out of reach for many from our California dream collaboration, KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nadler reports that some Southern California students are finding another option. Very much out of state.

Speaker 2: 00:26 Rebecca Yannas and Arturo Vasquez wake up and carpool together most days at 7:00 AM to go to college. They both went to high school in San Diego and our business majors as they approached the border, there's barely aligned today. There's no line most days. That's because unlike the vast majority of English speaking college students living along California's border, they're not going North to college in the U S instead they're heading South to Mexico. Rebecca usually makes the trip in a half hour.

Speaker 3: 00:56 It's not that hard. It's sometimes kind of stressful just because of the problems at the border, but besides that it's been okay so far.

Speaker 2: 01:06 They both attend settees a private university in Baja, California. It is three campuses close to the border, one and two Quana, one in Mexicali and a third and Ensanata along the coast. After the 2008 financial crisis, administrators at settees began noticing an uptick in the amount of American students crossing over the border to get their degrees. Fernando Leon Garcia is set. He president

Speaker 4: 01:30 historically we've had on and off families with some links to Mexico. However, as a result of some complications within California in terms of choice, because accessibility, it all of a sudden became a popular, uh, and increasingly frequent incidents

Speaker 2: 01:51 with the cost of higher education and housing in California, skyrocketing students were looking for cheaper options in Mexico. In 2012, settees became the first and only university outside of the U S to get accreditation by the Western association of schools and colleges, the same accreditation held by the California state university system.

Speaker 4: 02:11 If you have accreditation, then you have a certain level of quality that people look for me.

Speaker 2: 02:16 There are currently 337 students at [inaudible] who graduated from Southern California high schools. That's up from just 50 in 2010 tuition. And settees is more expensive than out of state school in California, but there was no requirement that students live on campus their first year. That housing requirement is in place in many California state universities, making them unaffordable for increasing numbers of students. Annual tuition and [inaudible] is just under $12,000. Last year, the university launched a business program exclusively in English. The first of its kind in Baja, the university touts its proximity to nearby multinational.

Speaker 4: 02:53 So collaboration with multinational industry and therefore employability. All of these are factors that have some

Speaker 2: 03:00 impact in terms of the students' decisions to come here in classrooms at the university. The vast majority of students learn in Spanish, but increasingly English language study groups are gathering in the library booth or Touro. And Rebecca had to deal with some pushback from friends and relatives when they decided to study in Mexico. Rebecca's high school friends were shocked when she first told them of her decision

Speaker 3: 03:27 because they were like, why? Like, what's different over there? Like, is it really better? At first, one of my like top things was uh,

Speaker 2: 03:36 it's cheaper. Both our Touro and Rebecca plan on working in the border region where they hope their cross border experience, et cetera, will be an advantage for undergraduates along the border. They might be the very beginning of a much larger international exchange as California continues to price out its young people

Speaker 5: 03:54 joining me is KPBS reporter max Riverland, Nadler and max welcome. Hi. Now with the recent accreditation that's set, he's has, does that mean a degree obtained at the Mexican university is the same as a degree from a U S school? That's the idea is that it has the same level of accreditation, so it should be given the same weight. Of course, these are all decisions made by employers and graduate schools. They decide just like giving different schools different merits of quality or if you went to this school like carries as much as this other degree, but what it does do is it kind of sends a message that it's very much on the same playing field as these other stateside schools. You told us about the business classes in English. What other majors just said T's offer. So is that tees is a full university that offers majors in a variety of different fields, but for its English program, it is specifically focusing on business right now just because that's a pitch that they like to make to kind of the nearby multinationals as well as the field that they feel like they can really kind of corner the market on in terms of getting people who are interested in cross border trade and businesses to um, come to South of the border to get their degree as opposed to just staying on the American side.

Speaker 5: 05:06 Now, how accessible is this school? Even with some classes in English for a U S student who's not bilingual, if you're not bilingual, it's going to be difficult, right? Because travel to Mexico every day is, is a challenge if you don't speak the language. Um, that being said, honestly, it's a 20 minute drive. Once you're over the border, I'm on campus. They really do make an effort to kind of have a bilingual, uh, situation for students. Um, the challenge is just going to be in kind of living and studying in another country. So think of it as studying abroad, but kind of close to home. What are the qualifications to be accepted at cities? Some of the qualifications are the same as you would see in college here in the U S it's a high school degree. A, you have to have a certain level of GPA that they're looking for, especially in regards to financial aid. Um, they really do want people who have a grasp on Spanish, um, or have some familiarity with it. Of course, if you don't speak the language at all, um, they're going to, you know, they'll work with you on that. But it is something that they do look for in students is an ability and familiarity to speak some Spanish or openness to learn Spanish.

Speaker 1: 06:17 Is there a quota in Mexico of how many U S students in a university can accept?

Speaker 5: 06:23 Not that I know of. Um, I believe that the, um, just like in the U S where we have kind of a huge amount of international students who come to study obviously, uh, from all parts of the world, Mexico is also open to that as well and does have a bunch of American students currently studying in it just in Spanish.

Speaker 1: 06:43 So the enrollment could keep growing,

Speaker 5: 06:45 the enrollment could grow, keep growing. That's the idea of course. Uh, it has its own limitations as for staffing and things like that, this is very much kind of a pilot. Uh, they're gonna decide once they see the success of this program and its efficacy, its its ability to kind of put out alumni who are succeeding, uh, whether to expand, but they're being pretty deliberate about it. They're not just saying, let's expand by as many people as possible.

Speaker 1: 07:10 Now you told us that one of the American students you spoke with had friends who were pretty shocked when she told them that she was going to college in Mexico. Can you explain why there would be that reaction?

Speaker 5: 07:21 It's just not something that people think of when they're deciding to go to a higher university, right. To, to go to higher education. Uh, you think of schools in the U S as if you have the ability to access them well, especially if you're from an immigrant household. That's an entree in to kind of, um, a larger, larger world of, you know, basic access. And of course that goes back to basic discrimination. Um, so it really goes back to appearances or a base, uh, impressions of Mexico on the whole is, Oh, this is somehow not going to be up to the level of the U S when Mexico has large public universities as compared to America's larger public universities, uh, they're quite comparable.

Speaker 1: 08:03 Are the U S students you spoke with concerned that the negative perceptions that you're talking about here, the negative perceptions of Mexico could hurt their job prospects when they graduate?

Speaker 5: 08:14 They don't think so. They really feel as if by allowing them to already have these internships at these companies that they would want to work at in the future. And by being able to pitch companies on saying, Hey, not only do I have experience on both sides of the border, but I actually have really good connections to businesses already on the Mexican side. And that's something that American businesses are always, always looking for, especially for people who, like these students graduated or attended San Diego high schools, and to have a firm grasp of English and have a firm grasp of the, you know, business and political situation. On the U S side,

Speaker 1: 08:50 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter max Rivlin nether max. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 6: 08:57 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 I like millions of children around the world, grew up watching Sesame street and I have a distinct memory of wanting to go where there were always sunny days friendly neighbors and the air is sweet. Well, Sesame street this year celebrates 50 years of teaching children their ABCs, one, two threes and how to value others. In December the program will receive a Kennedy center honor. The first time a TV program will receive this recognition, cofounder of Sesame workshop, Lloyd more set. We'll be in DC to receive the recognition, but before that I joined him in his LA Jolla home to talk about the profound impact Sesame street has had over the years. Well, Mr. Morrison, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. Take us back to 1960 when you and your collaborators were creating what would become Sesame street? Where did the idea come from?

Speaker 2: 00:54 Came from first to steady. Just determine whether people thought television. It could be used to teach young children. Secondly, hiring a group of professionals that knew how to produce television. Third, getting the job done. We had to produce it at that time. 130 hours a over here of, of television. We had to have people that knew what they were doing and the calling it Sesame street. When you asked what the idea for Sesame street was calling it, Sesame street developed during the course of that process when they producers went away for a weekend seminar to try to figure out what they were going to call the program.

Speaker 1: 01:36 And how did you make that connection between uh, using between teaching kids and the television

Speaker 2: 01:44 at that time in the United States there was a lot of discussion about the failure of many kids who went to school unprepared either because they came from poor backgrounds or different kinds of families. And by the end of third grade they entered, entered first grade, three months behind and by third grade they were nearby. And there was a great discussion about how that gap could be overcome. I was then working at Carnegie foundation and we financed a number of experiments to try to see if you could inoculate children at an early age so that they would be able to succeed in school rather than failing. And it turned out all the experiments worked, but we were only reaching a few hundred children. There were about 1,000,005 at are in school that way each year. So there was a big discrepancy between what our goal was and what we were actually doing. And because I had become friends with Joan Cooney who was a producer, channel 13 I asked her if she thought television could be used to teach young children. She said she didn't know, but she'd like to talk about it. And that's how it

Speaker 1: 02:59 and your own daughter, she you, you saw and observed her even connecting with television, correct?

Speaker 2: 03:04 Yes. But we didn't know what she was connecting with. She'd get up on Sunday morning and watch the station identification signal.

Speaker 1: 03:12 So a little more research and you found it out. What was the most challenging part of all that?

Speaker 2: 03:19 I think in the beginning, one of the challenging parts was to get the people, the creative people from television and the research people from academia to work together and respect each other. It happened, but it was a challenge.

Speaker 1: 03:37 And so like, you know, respect. That's a value. Right? And it's one of the values you all always teach on Sesame street. Right? Well, talk to me about that. I mean it's, it's one thing to teach here your math and your reading and all of those things, but there are also a set of values that go into the show. How do you come up with those values and, and how do you decide and prioritize what you teach on there?

Speaker 2: 04:00 Well, as I've said at first we were trying to help particularly the children that needed it. Most those children frequently came from different ethnic families are different geographical families and we wanted to show them that they could be friends with people that were different. So for example, the character of Ernie and Bert were chosen to be very different looking people, Muppets in this case. But they got along as friends. And the idea that it was an inclusive show was there from the very beginning. That was one of the most important ideas.

Speaker 1: 04:41 And you have a background in experimental psychology. How did the concepts from your training help you build the educational foundation for Sesame street?

Speaker 2: 04:51 The background in psychology taught me that you had to have real evidence that what you were doing worked and why it worked. So we had research built into the program from the beginning,

Speaker 1: 05:02 and I've read that you and one of your Sesame street workshop co-founders, uh, Joan Cooney, uh, watch the filming of the first episode of Sesame street and you turned to her and you said, you know, Joan, we did it. What did you think you'd done at that point?

Speaker 2: 05:17 That was a preview of the television program with a, an audience of critics, funders, and a few other people. And based on their audience reaction, it was clear that we had done, done something that had wide appeal. And that's why why I said that.

Speaker 1: 05:40 Did you know that 50 years later, it still being an institution?

Speaker 2: 05:47 We couldn't see beyond the first year. We didn't know we have a second year. So, no, of course not.

Speaker 1: 05:54 Looking back, how do you feel about that? Great.

Speaker 2: 05:58 Oh yeah, it's, it's a, uh, it's a wonderful thing that it turned out so well. We had the benefit of the work of a lot of talented people.

Speaker 1: 06:09 When you accept the honor that Kennedy award honor. Um, I imagine that you'll be sort of looking back at all of those people that helped to put the program [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 06:19 yes. And accepting that honor. I don't have to say anything that night though. So that's very fortunate.

Speaker 1: 06:28 If you were to put together a Sesame street today, right? If you were starting from scratch, what would be the key things that you would want to teach children?

Speaker 2: 06:37 They still need the same cognitive development that we are trying to teach. They need to learn how to deal with and respect other children. They need to know that girls and boys have the same kinds of educational needs and just young children. They need to be aware that other cultures have their own values. So there are a lot of things that one would want to teach and we managed to teach some of them, but certainly not all.

Speaker 1: 07:07 I sure appreciate you taking time to talk to us. Thank you. That was Lloyd said co founder of Sesame workshop. You can catch the 50th anniversary. Sesame Street's special on KPBS television, November 17th for more information, go to kpbs.org

Speaker 3: 07:30 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego, Asian film festivals celebrates its 20th anniversary tonight with the opening night film. The paradise we are looking for to preview the 10 day event. KPBS film critic Beth Armando sat down with the festivals, artistic director, Brian who?

Speaker 2: 00:17 Brian, you are the artistic director of the San Diego Asian film festival. It is celebrating its 20th year this year. You've been there almost half that time. So what kind of changes have you seen or how have you seen the festival grow in that time? Well, it's amazing. When I first arrived in 2011 we were showing films on 35 millimeter prints. I was lugging these 50 pound boxes for every single film. Now we get films on flash drives. So I was thinking about this year, like we really are the history of film of the last 20 years. Thinking about the material of film, like we've shown 35 millimeter, we've shown films on tape, on disc, now you get films on hard drives. We're showing films on virtual reality and that's been part of the fun and challenge because it means we have to constantly adapt. But it also shows sort of the sense of anything is possible.

Speaker 2: 01:03 Like film is trying to figure itself out and Asian American filmmakers are trying to figure out where they fit within that shift in the cinematic landscape. And the, we as a film festival are also trying to figure out what can, how, how best to serve our audience now. So I was at the San Diego Asian film festival the first year it started and there was a push for it to be mostly Asian American films. I was supposed, I was programming the international titles and I know I had to like twist some arms to get us to Zuki Sage on film and to get a host chow Shen film there. And I got voted down on a, an old Vietnamese political comedy that was making fun of the communist while under communist role. So I've been really thrilled when they took you on as artistic director that you really pushed it to balance the Asian American and the international films.

Speaker 2: 01:52 So what have you kind of seen in that respect in terms of the films you're able to program? Well, I mean I'm lucky that in the years I've been here we've seen an explosion of Asian cinema. I mean like when you were involved w that was like the beginning of the Korean cinema was arriving and we're discovering Thai cinema and I feel like I'm lucky that's like I, I arrived when it's blossomed. And so this is just so much to choose from. But meanwhile, in the Asian American side, we're finding a lot of filmmakers now who are last few years, especially in the interested in television and, and web content. So film is perhaps not the only option for Asian American media makers. So I'm also seeing in terms of what is available out there, I get a plethora of stuff from, from Asia, but in Asian America it's really, that's what, that's what we have to do our research and find out that I think about the fact that these homes aren't necessarily coming to us.

Speaker 2: 02:43 We have to seek out the filmmakers. Sometimes they're filmmakers who don't normally work in Asian-American spaces. They may work in avant garde spaces, queer spaces or just more mainstream spaces and we, so we have to discover them as opposed to we can't just wait for them to anymore. That's best a been a big shift that we've seen. And also you've been pretty daring in some of your programming choices as well. And you don't pick just kind of crowd-pleaser films or films that are easily accessible. You have gone for some really interesting choices in documentaries and in really long beautiful melodramatic films from the Philippines. So you've really been pushing the envelope in a lot of different ways. Yeah, I mean I, I joke that this year my longest film is only three hours. Like so like I've, last year I showed a eight and a half hour documentary that was there.

Speaker 2: 03:31 Yeah, you made it. And so I mean like moments like that are partly to test our audiences because film festivals should be ways to stretch our audiences or just to remind audiences that they're capable of so much more than what Hollywood is offering them. So if we don't play these films, who will now explain a little bit about PAC arts, PAC arts sponsors, the Asian film festival, and this year it's kind of exciting that you're opening night film is a film that you guys have actually produced. Yeah, Pacific arts movement is a nonprofit. We are, we call them smart. We call ourselves a media arts organization. That means we are involved in all elements of promoting different kinds of voices through the media arts. For instance, we have a youth filmmaker training program called real voices, which is here to train teenagers in documentary production to tell stories about San Diego.

Speaker 2: 04:23 And so in thinking about what to do for our 20th year, we wanted to make sure it's not just about exhibition like we're most famous or putting on our film festival instead of celebrating ourselves. We wanted to celebrate all of those who have sustained us for these last 20 years specifically, um, different neighborhoods around the city that often don't get their stories told on screen. So we thought we'd say, let's gift those communities some stories. And so we commissioned filmmakers who we've met through the years. Um, so we invited them to, to pick a, pick a neighborhood in San Diego and that they feel a particular connection to or that they know people from and they want to tell their stories. And in particular I wanted to give them a challenge of thinking about the documentary form more expansively. So there's so many ways to make a documentary.

Speaker 2: 05:09 I don't just want to watch films where it's just professors talking about the history of San Diego or something. So really immerse these, immersed the filmmakers in these neighborhoods and just soak it all in. And the name of the film, the name of the film is the paradise we are looking for. There are a lot of films at the festival that are going to attract crowds because of either the master filmmakers that are involved or the topics. But I always like to point out some films that maybe will not be discovered. And one of these is called what we left unfinished. And this is about Afghan cinema. Tell us a little bit about this documentary and how you found it. I'm so glad you mentioned that. Oh, so this is, this is a classic example of a film by an Asian American filmmaker who is not really in the Asian American space and she's, she's doing things, this is working in Afghanistan, but she, I think she sees her art as beyond just film festivals.

Speaker 2: 06:02 She shoots, she exhibits in museums. And so we really, we had to go out of a way to, to find this one, but it will, boy, it was well worth it. So the film is about the eight, 1980s and nineties in Afghanistan. When you have just continued regime changes and with each regime there's propaganda. But as soon as it takes, sometimes it takes longer to make a film then for regime to stay in power. So what happens is the regime changes and you have all these unfinished films. And what we forget is these filmmakers are artists. They're entertainers. They're not your PR PR, especially for ideological purposes. And they've left their passions behind. And so the filmmaker got access to these unfinished films that have never really been showcased anywhere, uh, restore them. And it got the filmmakers to talk about these unfinished projects and tell the stories of how they are making films in this very unique political situation and what it means to be a filmmaker and artist and storyteller during this time.

Speaker 2: 07:00 And are there any other films that you have that are favorites? I know it's like asking which is your favorite child, but do you have any other films that you want to mention for people to maybe seek out? A really bizarre but beautiful touching film is called hope frozen. It's a documentary from Thailand drugged by Thai American director. It's about a family and his family of scientists. The dad is a scientist, the son is in high school. His name is matrix. If he wants to be a scientist one day, like his dad unfortunately matrix, his younger sister is dying of a terminal illness and the family because they believe in science so much decide to cryogenically freezer and they know that we don't have the technology now to revive her, but who knows, maybe when we were just 10 years away and were thrilled at the director is going to be here. Yeah. I'm really looking forward to that.

Speaker 1: 07:50 That was artistic director Brian, who speaking with Beth Armando about the San Diego Asian film festival that kicks off its 20th season tonight at the Conrad previs performing arts center in the Hoya. The festivals Homebase through November 16th is at the ultra star mission Valley theaters.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.