Friday, May 9, 2008

Filming Up the Yangtze; APIAVote Town Hall Highlights

Up the Yangtze: Tourists on boats in the Lesser Three Gorges; photo credit: Jonathan Chang; Copyright © EyeSteel Film, 2007

Irvine -- On the 19 May edition of KUCI's Subversity program, we talked with independent film director Yung Chang, whose exquisite documentary, "Up the Yangtze," has opened nationally. In the second part of the program, we bring you highlights from the APIAVote Town Hall at UC Irvine, which heard from Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, as they reached out to the API community. John McCain did not appear but sent a surrogate, Assemblyman Van Tran. Third party candidates were not included.

Just days after a devastating earthquake hit southwestern China, the opening of "Up the Yangtze" gives audiences a cinematic look at more of the travails faced by ordinary Chinese as their county embraces modernization. Yung Chang, a Canadian Chinese filmmaker, talks about why he made his film, an "Upstairs. Downstairs" take on the crew and tourists on a luxury cruise ship that traverses the Yangtze as the Three Gorges dam project moves inexorably to its completion. His film focuses on two workers on the ship: a cocky and handsome young man who explains how he charms tourists to part with their tips, and a more quiet young girl who toils to clean dishes, a job she needs to help bring income to her family whose home is destroyed and flooded by the Three Gorges project. Chang talks about how progress in China is very complicated. He also explains how his film led to brighter futures for both workers; the film's web site indicates how one can help.
In OC, the film is showing at Regency South Coast Village in Santa Ana; it is also in Los Angeles etc. A Sundance documentary film award winner, it screened earlier at the Newport Beach Film Festival last month and won a special grand jury award at the Asian Pacific American Film Festival in Los Angeles.
We also bring you highlights from the historic first town hall organized by Asian/Pacific Islander Americans, that took place this past Saturday at UC Irvine. Hilary Clinton appeared on a live video screen, answering questions submitted earlier, while Barrack Obama, on a live telephone feed, took questions from a panel of API activists; Obama, born in Hawaii, also identified himself as a Pacific Islander and a "Native Hawaiian". The event was ignored by the mainstream media.
News Update: Show host Dan Tsang was quoted in Sing Tao (Chinese) after the California Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage:
Other Resources:
Early town hall news and blog coverage:
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Monday, May 5, 2008

The Man of Two Havanas Director Speaks Out vs. U.S. Embargo of Cuba

Irvine -- In our next edition, airing Monday May 5 2008 at 9 a.m. on KUCI, 88.9 fm in Orange County, and on the web simultaneously via, we talk with the director of "The Man of Two Havanas".

Max Lesnik, the director's father, with Fidel Castro

Vivien Lesnik Weisman, in her documentary, takes a look back at her father and her life with him as he survived numerous bombing attempts by Cuban exiles in Little Havana, not unlike the situation of intimidation and domestic terrorism faced by some outspoken Vietnamese exiles in Little Saigon. We talk about her film and why she wanted to make it, as well as what it was like to live in Miami as a small girl. The film argues that the U.S. embargo against Cuba hurts the people in Cuba as well as Cuban exiles abroad.

Biographical info: Vivien Lesnik Weisman was born in Havana, Cuba. After graduating from Barnard College and New York Law School, she received an M.F.A. in directing from the UCLA School of Film and Television.
Her numerous awards include the presti- gious UCLA Spotlight Award for Best Dramatic Short, the Houston Film Festival Best Short Award and a Golden Eagle for Excellence in Latino Filmmaking.
A student of acclaimed documentarian Marina Goldovskaya, Weisman recently won IFP New York's Fledging Fund Award for a Work-in-Progress for The Man of Two Havanas, her first documentary. She resides in Santa Monica with her son, Richard Jr.
Her father, Max Lesnik, director of Radio Miami, has been the number one target of anti-Castro terrorists and considered the most controversial figure in the Cuban exile community. He was a prominent revolutionary when he left Cuba due to ideological differences with his then-friend, Fidel Castro. In Miami, he took a position that was both against the Cuban government as well as against the U.S. policy toward Cuba. Mr. Lesnik became the publisher of Replica. The magazine was a forum for debate, as well as for Mr. Lesnik's incendiary point of view. Mr. Lesnik's position soon evolved to include dialogue with the Cuban government and recently he revived his friendship with Castro. Mr. Lesnik has been the target of anti-Castro terrorists. They have tried unsuccessfully to murder him; nine bombs have gone off at his office in Little Havana.
The film recently aired in Orange County at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
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Meanwhile, the Asian Pacific Film Festival continues in Los Angeles:
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