Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Film Review Essay, Resources

Dead Souls

Dead Souls Produced and Directed by Wang Bing Grasshopper Film and Icarus Films, 2018 DVD, 3 discs, 8 hours, 15 minutes, Color Mandarin / English subtitles Jiabiangou lies on the edge of the Gobi Desert near the city of Jiuquan, in the northwest pocket of China’s Gansu Province. Today, the region is home to China’s premier satellite launch center, but from 1957 to 1961, it was the nucleus of a labor camp complex in which more than 80 percent of the prisoners died, mostly of starvation. ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Around India with a Movie Camera: Film Review Essay by Coonoor Kripalani

Directed by Sandhya Suri Produced by Nicola Gallani 72 minutes, Color and Black & White Icarus Films, 2018 Reviewed by Coonoor Kripalani [caption id="attachment_7870" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Two smiling boys. Source: Icarus Films website at http://icarusfilms.com/if-ar. ©Icarus Films.[/caption] This seventy-two-minute silent documentary film, spliced together and edited by director Sandhya Suri from archival British Film Institute (BFI) clips, cleverly juxtaposes scenes of ...

Film Review Essay

Above the Drowning Sea: Film Review

Editor’s note: Readers interested in the plight of Jews in East Asia during World War II are strongly encouraged to read Professor Gordon’s article “A Tale of Two Diplomats: Ho Fengshan, Sugihara Chiune, and Jewish Efforts to Flee Nazi Europe” from the winter 2014 issue of EAA at https://tinyurl.com/y8xmr7xy. Above the Drowning Sea Written and Directed by Rene Balcer and Nicola Zavaglia Narrated by Julianna Margulies 88 minutes, Color Time & Rhythm Cinema, 2017 Reviewed by ...

Film Review Essay

Maineland: Directed by Miao Wang. Reviewed by Carol Stepanchuk

Directed by Miao Wang Produced by Miao Wang, Violet Feng, Robert M. Chang, and Damon Smith 90 minutes, Color Three Waters Productions, 2017 “An eye-opening cultural commentary” —Huffington Post Reviewed by Carol Stepanchuk Stella (Xinyi) Zhu instantly engages with the camera: “Today is a very special day for me—I’m so happy to receive an offer from Fryeburg Academy—it’s my ideal school, my dream come true. . . I won’t let you down!” Harry (Junru) He also rece...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Proof of Loyalty: Kazuo Yamane and the Nisei Soldiers of Hawai`i

Kazuo Yamane and the Nisei Soldiers of Hawai`i Produced and Directed by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers DVD, 55 minutes, Color Stourwater Pictures, 2017 Reviewed by David Huebner Awards: 2017 Audience Choice Award, Documentary—Asian American International Film Festival Best Feature Documentary—Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival Official Selection: Asian American International Film Festival, Gig Harbor Film Festival, Friday Harbor Film Festival, Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival, Ha...

Feature Article, Film Review Essay

So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War

Produced and Directed by David Plath D VD, 60 minutes, Color An MPG Production, 2016 Documentary available through Documentary Educational Resources beginning July 2017. Visit www.der.org to order a copy and for more information on the documentary Reviewed by Franklin Rausch So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War is a well-produced documentary that traces the finding, excavation, and repatriation in 2015 of the remains of 115 Korean conscript laborers whom the Japanese forced to work in...

Film Review Essay, Resources

My Life in China

Directed by Kenneth Eng Produced by Ehren Parks, Melanie Blair, Meng Xie, Takayo Nagasawa DVD, 81 minutes, color, 2014 Language: Toishanese (A Chinese dialect) with English subtitles Reviewed by Carol Stepanchuk Not all of us have directly faced the challenges of immigration, but in many classrooms, there will be one or more students who have firsthand experience. Their stories and the growing body of published first-person accounts can open an immediate window for students into the ongoing...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Film Review: Cocktail Party

Cocktail Party Directed and Produced by Regge Life 108 minutes, Color Lifecycle Productions, 2016 Based on the Akutagawa Prizewinning Novel by Tatsuhiro Oshiro Reviewed by David Huebner As a frequent film critic for Education About Asia, I have viewed and critiqued several documentaries. Cocktail Party, however, is the first full-length movie I’ve reviewed. It features superb acting, an intriguing plot, and an informative portrayal of the social conditions on Okinawa that have complicate...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Chinese Calligraphy, a Dance on Paper: The Art of Professor Yang Xin

Produced by Raymond Olson DVD, 46 Minutes, Color Sacred Mountain Productions, 2015 Reviewed by Jared Hall Calligraphy is among the most recognizable markers of Chinese culture. Even Americans who have never stepped foot in a Chinatown have likely encountered Chinese characters gracing a takeout restaurant sign or peeking out from a neck tattoo. Partly for this reason, Chinese characters provide an accessible entry point to learning about China and East Asia. It is a process that can begin...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement

Shifting Gender Roles in Postwar Japan: The On-Screen Life of Actress Hara Setsuko

Hara Setsuko (born Aida Masae, 1920) is one of Japan’s most admired actresses from its golden age of cinema. During her twenty-eight-year career, spanning the mid-1930s to early 1960s, she appeared in over one hundred feature films. Best known for her portrayals of ordinary, middle-class women, Hara’s performances were anything but ordinary. With large, expressive eyes and striking features, her unforgettable depictions of women from all stages of life, including daughters, wives, mothers an...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful

“Be strong, be gentle, be beautiful” is not only the essence of the art and sport of judo, but a clear six-word biographical description of the life of Fukuda Keiko, AKA Mrs. Judo. The only woman in judo’s history (since 1882) to achieve the difficult tenth-degree black belt, Fukuda’s life is not only the story of achievement in a sport, but the struggle to overcome tradition and sexism. Japan’s men expected their wives to be at home each evening, when judo classes were taught. But Fuk...

Film Review Essay, Resources

In The Grey Zone and A2-B-C

Reviewed by David Huebner In the Grey Zone In these two highly revealing documentaries on the Japan triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear accident) of March 2011, film director Ian Thomas Ash gives us a picture of the Japanese people struggling with the immensity of the event. An American who has lived in Japan for eleven years, Ash’s command of the Japanese language, his patient ability to wait for answers from those he interviews, and his gentle mix of the visual hars...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Honor and Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story

Reviewed by John H. Sagers Honor and Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story is an excellent case study that vividly illustrates issues surrounding early twentieth-century Japanese immigrants to the United States, their American-born children, and Japanese American military service during the Second World War. Narrated from the perspective of Roy Matsumoto’s daughter, Karen, the film has the intimate tone of a friend telling old family stories. The narrative begins with Roy’s father, Wakaji M...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Assignment China: A Documentary Series on American Reporting on China

Reviewed by Charles W. Hayford Journalism is the first draft of history. Now is a good time to look back on the journalism of the United States’ relations with China and help our students understand how China has been reported and to be active and sophisticated users of the new media they seem to prefer. Assignment China is a well-researched and beautifully produced projected eight-part documentary series written and reported by veteran Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy and produced by Clayto...

Film Review Essay, Resources

The Films of Hayao Miyazaki: Shinto, Nature, and the Environment

The films of Hayao Miyazaki are some of the most popular in Japan and the rest of the world. Perhaps his most famous work, Spirited Away, is the highest-grossing domestic film in Japanese history. (note 1) It also won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003. Over the past two decades, the Walt Disney Company has reissued English-language versions of Miyazaki’s films with the voice talents of such famous actors as Patrick Stewart, Claire Danes, and Billy Bob Thornton. Often, these f...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Teaching Post-Mao China: Two Classic Films

Introduction The Story of Qiu Ju and Beijing Bicycle are two films that have been used in classrooms since they were produced (1992 and 2001, respectively). Today, these films are still relevant to high school and undergraduate students studying history, literature, and related courses about China, as they offer a picture of the grand scale of societal change that has happened in China in recent decades. Both films illustrate contemporary China and the dichotomy between urban and rural life the...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story

Reviewed by David Huebner Nearly 20,000 lives were lost in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011. With such devastating losses, including over US $500 billion in property destruction, it is a challenge to sort out the many tributes to the many lives lost. However, Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story stands out as personal, reflective, honest, and richly filled with a sense of hope. While there are several YouTube, Facebook, and written remembrances of the lives...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Water Puppetry in Vietnam: An Ancient Tradition in a Modern World

Water Puppetry in Vietnam An Ancient Tradition in a Modern World PRODUCED BY SAM PECK 31 MINUTES, COLOR BERKELEY MEDIA LLC, 2012 Reviewed by Karen Kane Water  puppetry arose in the Red River delta and other rice-growing regions of northern Việt Nam a thousand years ago, during the Lý dynasty. Villagers staged water puppet performances to celebrate the end of the rice harvest, at religious festivals, and simply for entertainment. Today, watching a performance of this unique folk art has...

Film Review Essay, Resources

The Revolutionary

PRODUCED BY IRV DRASNIN, STOURWATER PICTURES BY IRV DRASNIN, LUCY OSTRANDER, AND DON SELLERS 92 MINUTES, COLOR, 2011 Reviewed by David L. Kenley In 1945, Sidney Rittenberg arrived in China as a US Army language specialist. Soon thereafter, he trekked across the country to Mao Zedong’s capital in Yan’an and asked to join the Chinese Communist Party. For the next three decades, Rittenberg remained in China, serving as a vocal and powerful defender of Mao’s revolution. The Revolutionary c...

Film Review Essay, Resources

ANPO: The Art X War: The Art of Resistance

DIRECTED BY LINDA HOAGLUND, PRODUCED BY NEW DAY FILMS, 2010 JAPANESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES, 89 MINUTES ANPO is an intriguing mix of anti-war paintings, documentary, feature film, anime (animation) clips, interviews with the artists in Japanese with English subtitles, and brief English language comments by author and CIA critic Tim Weiner. Although there are references to such things as Japanese atrocities in World War II and the terror felt by victims of American firebombing, most of the emph...

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