A group of Asian-American filmmakers shared their films and advice at the DisOrient Film Festival in Eugene, from April 19 to 21. Social justice-themed films, an art display and panel discussions took place across Eugene, including at the Bijou Theatre, Lane Community College’s downtown campus and the University of Oregon. According to the website, DisOrient challenges Asian-American stereotypes by featuring films “by us, for us and about us.”
The centerpiece film “Who is Arthur Chu?”, directed by Yu Gu and Scott Drucker, won the award for Best Feature Documentary and was shown Saturday night at the Bijou. “Who is Arthur Chu?” explores the life of Arthur Chu, who had immense success on the game show “Jeopardy” but faced a great deal of racism with his fame.
Other winners at the festival included “The Jade Pendant”, directed by Po-Chih Leong, which won Best Feature Narrative. “Monday”, directed by Dinh Thai, won Best Short Narrative.
On April 20, Gu, Leong and Thai participated in a panel discussion about Asian-Americans in film production. The panel included directors Harleen Singh and Tom Huang, whose films were also in the festival. Panelists discussed topics such as the inclusion of Asian-American stories in the American film industry, challenges in documentary filmmaking and advice for filmmakers.
After audience members asked about documentary filmmaking, Gu shared tips from her experiences with “Who is Arthur Chu?” and her current work documenting migrant workers in Canada.
“Editing is writing for documentaries,” Gu said.
Leong has been making award-winning films since 1976 and discussed how he finds inspiration for building great characters. He advised aspiring filmmakers to be curious about all people, using people-watching to make observations.
“Make all your characters interesting,” Leong said.
Over 15 films produced by Asian-Americans played at the festival. An art display at UO’s Straub Hall entitled “The Architecture of Internment” featured Oregon’s role in Japanese internment camps. Two-panel discussions at LCC’s downtown campus discussed racism in Oregon and diversity in filmmaking.