by Elizabeth Kim
On Saturday, August 11th, Visual Communications (VC) presented Home Is in the Heart: Seniors Making Movies, as part of Sustainable Little Tokyo’s ART @ 341 FSN. This short program of short films celebrated the power and value of “place” as a home, refuge, and a holder of memories, a crucial celebration in the midst of a new wave of displacement. Organized by our Summer 2018 Interns, the short films featured in our program were produced by our Digital Histories Senior Filmmakers, and screened twice, once at 1:30PM and another at 4:00PM.
The day started early for us VC interns. Our call time was at 9AM, the morning and afternoon spent setting up 341 FSN. We went all around Little Tokyo, picking up beverages and food from our In-Kind Sponsors--Cafe Dulce, G&B Coffee, and Spitz (thank you Saya Maeda), while sneaking in time to take a picture of our winning kazari at the Los Angeles Tanabata Festival.
The doors opened at 12:30PM, and within a few minutes, several people claimed their seats. In a blink of an eye, we had a full house of about 40 attendees! The space was packed with our six Digital Histories Filmmakers and their loved ones, as well as other interested parties who had wandered in.
The first screening at 1:30PM was presented by Abe Ferrer, our Archives and Distribution Manager, and Yong-Yi Chiang, our Exhibitions Program Intern. After a short introduction about the importance of this event in the face of gentrification, the short films were screened. As the designated photographer of the 1:30PM showing, I had the chance to capture everyone as they laughed and applauded each of the six films. After the last film was shown, all the directors were called up for a quick Q&A session, led by my fellow interns, Yong-Yi and Rebecca. Questions regarding the inspiration and process behind their films, as well as the message it sends in regards to current issues today were answered gracefully by our directors. In addition, some of the attendees were given the chance to participate in answering the questions. Most notable was when Nancy Uyemura spoke on behalf of Steve Nagano’s film ARTS DISTRICT WITHOUT ARTISTS. As one of the longest-residing tenants in one of the first designated Artists-in-Residence buildings, she shared the impact these evictions had on her life as an artist, and the community as a whole.
With the 1:30PM show finished, a quick reception followed before the 4:00PM showing. Filmmakers mingled with attendees, as the next batch of people came in. Fewer people showed up for the 4:00PM show, but we still had 30 people in the audience. This second showing was led by Francis Cullado, VC’s Executive Director, and Rebecca Liu, VC's Archives Intern. Similar to the previous showing, they brought up the issues faced by the Little Tokyo community today and the steps people can take to fight it, such as signing the Save Little Tokyo Petition led by Sustainable Little Tokyo. After the screening, the directors were once again called up for a Q&A, where they discussed the film process, especially the most rewarding and challenging parts of the film process. Soon, the end of the event arrived, and we thanked everyone who took time to attend our event. Many of us were individually approached and applauded for our hard work in organizing #HomeInHeart. Overall, it was an amazing experience to be immersed in the Little Tokyo community, to be part of the activism through this screening.
P.S. Here's a picture of us and our honorary Kazari Creative Director, and VC's Grant Coordinator, Ashley Lin!
Elizabeth Kim is a student at USC majoring in Business Administration and minoring in 3D Computer Graphics and Modeling. Learn more about her here.