Monday, March 22, 2010

Jason goes to Asianfest--Day 6

Yeah, I skipped Day 5. Sorry, I was at a work-related brainstorming session (i.e., drinking beer and coming up with new ideas). You'll just have to live without my brilliant insights into...whatever I would've seen on Monday.

Anyway, I caught two movies on Tuesday (which turned out to be documentary night) starting with the documentary on the history and statehood of Hawai'i, STAE OF ALOHA. It starts with the bare facts--the date that Hawai'i became a state, the celebrations, and the memories of that day by prominent Hawaiians (including Senators Inouye and Akaka) Those in power now look back on the day with great pride and joy, and I'll confess I felt it vicariously through them. I've always felt the greatest pride in my country when I meet a new citizen, and I'm not old enough to have welcomed an entire new state in (get on it, Puerto Rico!) But really, who'd want to watch 77 minutes of how cool it is that Hawai'i became a state--that's just propaganda! When the movie really takes off is when it challenges the narrative, and although there's not really a serious movement against statehood (not like Alaska, where the Alaska Independence Party is political force--but that's not a story) there is an interesting story of how the islands got to the point where statehood really was the best (possibly only) option. It starts with the days as a sovereign kingdom, and traces how the post-gold rush Americans moved there and started sugar cane plantations, up to its use as a military base, Pearl Harbor, and systematic class separations (even suppression of the native Hawai'ian language) to the point where by 1959 statehood really was the logical next step. At 77 minutes, it's barely more than a primer into the history of Hawai'i. But the filmmakers were there to talk about how their main goal is getting it shown in schools and including a whole study guide. As a starting point for discussion, it does a great job.

And then I saw some pure propaganda, HANA, DUL, SED... is the story of the North Korean women's soccer team. Actually, I say it's propaganda, but really only is as much as steadfastly refuses to take a political stance in a nation who's very regime is such a global issue. Instead, they focus on the women and the soccer, and their dedication feels no different than the dedication of any professional athlete. When the team wins the Asian Championship in 2003, they're hailed as heroes of the people and are treated to the privileges thereof. It's more than a little off-putting to see them afforded such great luxuries in a country that I know is full of poverty and human rights abuses, but again the movie doesn't look at that. Rather they look at their subsequent run to the World Cup in the United States, their ballyhooed match, the hostile environment, and their eventual 3-0 loss to the United States, their return to the DPRK. Ultimately, there's a lot of turnover in the team, the players all go their own way, although they remain friends and at least one works as a coach now. They simply had to make way for younger players, who by the way are now ranked 5th in the world. But that's another story. According to the program notes, this was an Austrian production, and I really wish director Brigitte Weich or any of the crew were there, I had so many questions about how they got so much access to North Korea and what they left out.

Total Running Time: 175 minutes
My Total Minutes:178,183

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