ENEMY ALIEN Garners Awards and More at DisOrient 2012
May 4, 2012
Communing with socially engaged university students, Nikkei and Palestinian folk.
It was exciting to learn the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon chose Enemy Alien as their centerpiece film, and when they expressed their hope that I could attend the festival it was clear this would be an important part of the film's outreach as well as a great festival experience. The festival has a strong ties with the University of Oregon, and the Multicultural Center at UO hosted a meet-and-greet with the Arab Student Union and MEChA, who engaged me in an incisive discussion of the film and the discoveries I made about the continuity between the WW2 incarceration of Japanese, Italian and German Americans and today's racialized immigration detention regime.
Each screening of Enemy Alien has forged serendipitous links between communities. This time I had the pleasure of getting to know local personage Ibrahim Hamide, a Palestinian who has lived in Eugene for decades. In addition to being a dedicated human rights organizer, Ibrahim is the most beloved restaurateur in town, with three amazing restaurants.
I was honored to have Ibrahim introduce my film at the festival and participate in the discussion following. He also happens to be the brother of one of the L.A. 8, a group targeted in an infamous 20-year witch hunt against pro-Palestinian free speech in the U.S.
I was also deeply touched to receive an honor on behalf of Farouk Abdel Muhti. The words on the award are well chosen: “PAC Alliance Award for courage / presented to Farouk Abdel-Muhti / Whose bright courage can never be dimmed by tyranny.”
And then on the closing night of the festival I was uplifted and humbled to receive a second award in my own name, the Jason D. Mak Award for Social Justice. I feel I also share this award with Farouk, but it is great to have received this recognition for my Enemy Alien, my first feature, as I develop my second.
There was yet another surprise Palestinian connection in Eugene. I found out that Shadia Mansour was performing at a Muslim Students Union event at UO the day after my screening. I’d met her sister Nancy in September when she participated in the panel for post-screening discussion at Alwan for the Arts.
So I finally got to see "the first lady of Arab hip hop" live and experience what an instinctively engaging performer Shadia is. She and Nancy also do great work with Palestinian youth and are raising money to cover this summer’s tour: Existence Is Resistance Voices and Visions Tour 2012
With the help of this exceptional festival, I feel more connected with the West Coast Nikkei and Asian American community and can continue making the most of Enemy Alien outreach at Tule Lake Pilgrimage and Japanese American National Museum. I also made some key contacts for the next Life or Liberty project, a documentary on the Tule Lake Segregation Center.
November 18, 2012
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July 9, 2012