Friday, May 11, 2018

Jason goes to CAAMFest--Opening Night

I am so happy that CAAMFest moved from it's previous dates in March to May! Of course, it's appropriate that it's in Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, but more important to me, it no longer conflicts with Cinequest. So instead of just the final weekend, for the first time in quite a few years I can go all out for nearly the whole festival.

And the opening night film was a doozy. Of course, after the obligatory thank-yous and introductions, and an award presented by Mayor Willie Brown to the night's rock star celebrity Norm Mineta, we finally got down to the movie.

I was surprised when I checked my watch and the program guide and realized AN AMERICAN STORY: NORMAN MINETA AND HIS LEGACY is only a scant hour long. Because they cram a heck of a lot of information into that time. It starts with his father's journey from Japan to America (where he missed his intended stop in San Francisco and got off in Seattle instead, before making his way down to San Jose and starting a family. A big chunk of the story focuses on when Norman was a child, and his family was interned in Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. Yup, he was a victim of a particularly shameful part of America's history. But rather than bitterness, he put his efforts into making America a better place--a place that wouldn't do anything like that again. In fact, I'm jumping a bit ahead, but George W. Bush credits the fact that Muslims weren't rounded up and put in internment camps after 9/11 to Mineta's inspiration--he didn't want America to do to Muslims what they did to Norm and his family. Oh yeah, Mineta, despite being a lifelong liberal Democrat, served as Bush's Transportation Secretary, after serving as Clinton's Commerce Secretary. Which I believe (and the movie asserts) makes him the only person ever appointed to a cabinet position by two Presidents of opposite parties (others have served across administrations until a new President has nominated a successor, but I believe he's the only one nominated by both Presidents.)

Anyway, the movie highlights all his accomplishments, but always grounding them in the lessons and persecution he received as a minority and child of immigrants. But the most important thing is the airport named after him in San Jose (he jokes that his grandchildren ask him if he owns that airport.) Which means I have flown several times on trips originating from and ending at airports named after people I have met (or at least, seen live and was within a dozen feet from.) The other one is Ted Stevens, who despite being the Alaskan of the Century (last century) is not quite the man Norm Mineta is. He also ended up convicted of corruption (although the charges were later dismissed) and ending up dying in a plane crash. So now whenever I fly into the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, I'm flying into an airport named after a crooked politician who died in a plane crash--my go to example of why you shouldn't name things after people who are still alive! So here's hoping that a similar fate won't befall Norman Mineta. After seeing the man and hearing him speak, I'm pretty confident his legacy will endure.

Running Time: 60 Minutes
My Total Minutes: 478,308
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