a documentary film by Pearl J. Park

About the Film
The Issue
About Us
Director's Statement
Photo Gallery


D O C U M E N T A R I E S   A B O U T
A S I A N   A M E R I C A N   M E N T A L   H E A L T H

The Children of the Camps, by Dr. Satsuki Ina, is an one-hour documentary that portrays the poignant stories of six men and women who were interned as children in U.S. concentration camps during World War II. The film captures a three-day intensive group experience, during which the participants are guided by a trained therapist through a process that enables them to speak honestly about their experiences, often for the first time. The six participants openly share how their families were torn apart, the shame and humiliation they watched their parents endure, and the legacy passed on to them for how to survive in a world that had accused and ostracized them for no other reason than the color of their skin. Distributed by The Center for Asian American Media. .

The Cats of Mirikitani Produced and Directed by Linda Hattendorf. Produced by Masa Yoshikawa. Eighty-year-old Jimmy Mirikitani survived the trauma of WWII internment camps, Hiroshima, and homelessness by creating art. But when 9/11 threatens his life on the New York City streets and a local filmmaker brings him to her home, the two embark on a journey to confront Jimmy's painful past. An intimate exploration of the lingering wounds of war and the healing powers of friendship and art, this documentary won the Audience Award at its premiere in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. Website: www.thecatsofmirikitani.com

Dear Dad - produced and directed by Mayumi Maruyama. The director's statement: Dear Dad is a personal story about the cultural wall that exists between the Japanese and American cultures and the conflict it can create within a family. I was first made aware of this clash through the events surrounding my father’s suicide. I was raised in America. My father on the other hand was raised in Japan by a traditional, wealthy, Japanese family. Since I am culturally American, there was conflict when we tried to communicate. On October 23rd of 2000, we had one such argument. It would be the last argument I had with my father. As usual, I voiced my opinion and my father responded with silence. My arguments with my father were frustrating because the Japanese don’t voice their feelings. He simply stated that we had money, and 20 minutes later, he hung himself. I felt responsible for his death. I felt that I should have listened more to his feelings, and instead of attacking him like I did, approach him in a more positive way. My guilt motivated me to find out if it really was my fault that my father died. In making this film, I hoped to break the cultural wall of silence, and deliver a message to my grandfather and grandmother in Japan to whom I hadn’t spoken in 5 years.

Death of a Shaman – produced by Richard Hall, directed by Fahm Fong Saeyang. Mien American woman, Fahm Fong Saeyang’s personal journey of reconciling her family’s painful history beginning in their native Thailand to their life in Sacramento, CA. Her parents suffered from opium-addiction and other unidentified mental health issues. DEATH OF A SHAMAN examines with painful honesty how Fahm's Mien immigrant family suffered through a 20-year ordeal of poverty, racism, religions, drugs, jail and the murder of a family member. It is a chronicle of a darker side of the pursuit of the American dream that affected many of the 40,000 Mien who came from a primitive life in the mountains of Southeast Asia to America. DEATH OF A SHAMAN is also a moving account of Fahm's need to understand her father's pain, and a desire to figure out what will placate his troubled spirit and her own. 2003, 57 minutes, documentary.
Dialogues with Madwomen, by Allie Light - This documentary presents a pastiche of illness narratives, the stories of seven women (including the filmmaker and the associate producer) who have struggled with mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder, and multiple personality disorder. The movie's associate producer and one of the 7 subjects in the film is an Asian American, Karen Wong. Shockingly, Karen Wong is brutually raped and murdered during the production of the film and visuals of her grave site are shown at the end. Light-Saraf Films, Year: 1993, Color/BWColor, Running Time: 90 minutes, Miscellaneous: The film won the Freedom of Expression Award, Sundance Film Festival in 1994 and a National Emmy Award in 1995. Distributed by Women Make Movies, Inc.

Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe, by Harry Kim - Director, Harry Kim goes through eight haphazard years filled with mayhem to follow and deliver a portrait of David Choe, a young near-schizophrenic street artist that devisesnumerous criminal schemes that afford him to hitchhike across the globe. Choe skirts the legalconstraints of society to "freely" create his art. His nonchalant law-breaking style lands him in jailseveral times leading to his eventual demise in solitary confinement in a Tokyo prison cell. Heresurfaces with a radically religious agenda and returns home with hope to overcome his criminaltemptations and repair his severed relationships. We see Choe's unwillingness to grow up, his struggle tomake it as an artist and his fight to hold on to his sanity for his life and burgeoning art career. www.dirtyhandsmovie.com

The Fight Within Us: A Documentary by RethinkBPD, By Jesse Sweet. The name is confusing.The pain is real. The consequences — devastating. Borderline Personality Disorder, a mental illness that has been swept under the rug for far to long, is now coming to the forefront. 16 million Americans are living with Borderline Personality Disorder. Two-thirds will attempt to commit suicide. Those who continue to live tell a story of an illness few understand and even less know how to treat. Jesse Sweet, a filmmaker whose work spans across PBS, HBO and A&E, captures those standing on the borderline, caught in the balance of emotional extremes. Amanda Wang’s battle to become a boxer, overcome her disability and confront public stigma will serve as the first documentary to delve inside the reality of those living with this disorder. After two months on the psychiatric floor of New York Presbyterian Hospital, Amanda Wang, officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, now fights to create a life worth living. With no experience in the ring, Amanda tries to prove her own worth by chasing down her long-held dream of becoming a Golden Gloves boxer. From the therapist’s couch to the boxer’s ring, we will follow Amanda as she rebuilds her life and identity — all while struggling with the reality of her mental illness. Amanda Wang is Philippina-American. blog.thefightwithinus.com/

Healing the Spirit: Treatment of Depression Among the Asian Elderly, Asian elderly women have the highest suicide rate of any group in America, and one cause is depression. The Asian Pacific Fund, a San Francisco-based foundation, produced this 19-minute health education video in partnership with AARP and the Stanford Geriatric Education Center so elderly Asians and their family members and caregivers can understand the symptoms of depression, its effects and how treatment can help. The film features interviews with writer Amy Tan, and Chinese, Filipino and Japanese families. This video is available in nine languages: Cantonese, English, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog and Vietnamese. To order this video, please visit http://www.asianpacificfund.org

The House of Suh by Iris Shim – Yoon Myung and Tai Sook Suh immigrated to America for a better life for their children, Andrew and Catherine. But their pursuit of happiness quickly became riddled with misfortune, culminating on September 25, 1993, when Andrew shot and killed his older sister’s fiancé of eight years, Robert O’Dubaine, at Catherine’s bidding. Those closest to Andrew expressed shock and disbelief: how could a young man with a promising future allow himself to be convinced into committing murder? As the Suh’s complex history unfolds, issues of cultural assimilation, traditional values and justice are examined, raising questions of guilt, innocence and the illusive gray area in between. Catherine Suh has an unidentified form of mental illness in this documentary film.

Raymond's Portrait by Donald C. Young —- Raymond Hu is a unique artist with a sensitivity and fierce passion for life that comes out in his paintings. He also has Down syndrome. At the age of nineteen he has won numerous awards for his work, has been recognized in the Congressional Record, and was recently named one of "25 role models for the next 25 years" by Exceptional Parent magazine. Click here to see some examples of Raymond's work.Raymond's Portrait interweaves interviews with Raymond, his family and his art teacher to convey the challenges of growing up with Down syndrome, the difficult yet rewarding experience of being fully included in his high school, and the way he creates his extraordinary Chinese brush paintings of animals. Raymond's Portrait introduces viewers to a remarkable young man and is a powerful example of what can happen when a child is encouraged to develop to his full potential, regardless of others' preconceptions about his abilities. http://fanlight.com/catalog/films/267_rp.php

Road to Recovery–Produced by Richmond Area Multi-Services Inc., San Francisco, CA. This documentary explores the life experiences of three first-generation Asian immigrants/refugees who suffer from different mental illnesses - schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This video is an honest exploration told in their own words, and strives to shed light on mental health issues of the API population, including post-migration stress, language and culture barriers, and ways of coping with these issues. Nonfiction, some subtitles. Approx. 24 mins. VHS.

Silent Sacrifices: Voices of the Filipino American Family, Director/Producer: 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 intergenerational misunderstandings. Intent on breaking the silence that allows dysfunctions to develop, Silent Sacrifices and its accompanying educational guide offer an invaluable starting point for enhancing family communication within one of the country's fastest growing demographics. USA, 2001, 25 min., Documentary. Distributed by The Center for Asian American Media. .

Tribute and Remembrance: Asian Americans After 9/11, commissioned by the Asian American Federation of New York, produced by Renata Huang, and narrated by David Henry Hwang, is a 69-minute documentary that examines the multitude of ways the September 11th tragedy impacted the Asian American community. Broken down into five major parts, the first segment focuses on the economic devastation of New York City’s Chinatown; the second segment follows a South Asian taxi cab driver who has watched his weekly earnings fall by 75% to illustrate the hardships experienced by the city’s taxi drivers; part three touches upon the selective detention of Islamic and South Asian immigrants through the story of the break-up of a Pakistani- family, after the main breadwinner is detained by the INS; the much stigmatized subject of mental health is examined in the fourth segment; and in the fifth segment, 3 families share the memories of their loved ones lost in the tragedy.

Who’s Going to Pay for These Donuts, Anyways? Directed by Janice Tanaka – 1992, 58 minutes, Color, VHS -  A brilliant collage of interviews, family photographs, archival footage and personal narration, this videotape documents Japanese American video artist Janice Tanaka’s search for her father after a 40 year separation. The two reunited when Tanaka found her father living in a halfway house for the mentally ill. Telling the moving story of her search as well as what she discovered about history, cultural identity, memory and family, Who’s Going To Pay for These Donuts, Anyway? is a rare look at connections between racism and mental illness. Distributed by Women Make Movies and the Center for Asian American Media.

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