This weekend, the Film Series and Asian American Students Association at Bryn Mawr College teamed up to volunteer at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF)!! Located at the Asian Arts Initiative, the festival featured shorts, food demos, and an art exhibit. Over the span of the final weekend of the film festival (11/18-11/19), around 15 Bryn Mawr students covered four different volunteer shifts. At the film festival, we helped usher and take audience as well as collect and count ballots. One perk of volunteering at the festival was that we were able to watch some of the films!
Film Series members Eda ’19, Co-Head Kristal ’17, and Kellie ’19 volunteering at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival!!
One of my favorite films that I saw while volunteering at the festival was the documentary Forever Chinatown. The film tells the story of Frank Wong, an 81-year-old self-taught artist who creates miniature models from his childhood memory of San Francisco Chinatown. His miniatures capture the images of an evolving Chinatown of the 40s during a time of discrimination and rapid change. In sweeping takes of Wong’s miniatures and clips from films of the 40s, the film recreates a sense of a time lived long ago.
Another film that I really loved from the festival was Painted Nails a documentary that follows Van Hoang, a Vietnamese immigrant and nail salon owner. At the time being pregnant, Hoang advocates for safer cosmetics and working conditions for nail salon workers after having two miscarriages as the result of the toxic chemicals in nail products she uses at her salon. She goes on to testify in Washington, DC in front of Congress for the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act and ends up giving birth a healthy baby!
Students from ASA and Filmmakers Association volunteering at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival!!
Overall, volunteering at the Asian American Film Festival was really fun as we got to watch really amazing movies, meet cool people, and speak to actors and directors! We hope to continue volunteering with the Philadelphia Asian American Film and Filmmakers as well as with other film festivals in the future!
This semester, for our big film screening event, we decided to have Marvel vs. DC (11/11-11/12) theme film screenings to go along with the dining hall special dinner of the same theme! Usually, Film Series has one large screening a semester but we decided to double it up this semester since we co-hosted one film a week for this quarter. We showed Captain America: Civil War and Suicide Squad with raffles, pizza, Insomnia cookies, and a superhero themed photo booth for people to takes pictures at!
Film Series members Kellie ’19, Co-Heads Kristal ’17 and Isabella ’18, and Heather ’19 at the Suicide Squad screening!
Both of the film screens for Captain America: Civil War and Suicide Squad had a great turn out! Can’t wait for next semester’s screenings!!
For a brief time, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute was showing The Handmaiden (2016) by (one of my favorite directors) Park Chan-wook, who is known for Oldboy (2003)! Based on the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, the film is set in 1930s Korea, during Japanese colonial rule. Structured in three parts, the film revolves around the deception of different characters and Japanese eroticism.
The story begins when Sookee, a young Korean pickpocket, is recruited by Count Fujiwara, a Korean conman, to be Lady Hideko’s handmaiden and persuade Lady Hideko to marry the Count for her fortune. A Japanese heiress, Lady Hideko’s money is controlled by her uncle Kouzuki, who plans to marry her when she is of age in order to gain her fortune and her body. However, with the three part structure, the film becomes more complex as each part reveals a different perspective and deception as Sookee and Lady Hideko become romantically involved.
Promotional photo of The Handmaiden (2016)
Much like the other films from director Park Chan-wook, the film The Handmaiden follows the auteur’s style of violence combined with a disturbing plot and paired with beautiful shots and sets. The most disturbing element in the film is the use of female eroticism. Throughout The Handmaiden, the body of Lady Hideko is seen as a space that men can manipulate through marriage as well as through readings of erotic Japanese literature. While the director highlights the folly of the grotesque nature of heterosexual men’s obsession with the female body, mainly through the portrayal of Uncle Kouzuki, the film also allows Lady Hideko to escape the erotics projected on to her through her relationship with Sookee. The lesbian relationship allows Lady Hideko to subvert the male obsession with the female body as no man within the film actually got to claim her body through sex. Yet, as the two woman escape the imposition of an erotic gaze, the film ends with a sex scene between Sookee and Lady Hideko that reflects some of the same erotic images of lesbian sex seen in the Japanese erotic literature Lady Hideko is forced to read.
In The Handmaiden as with other films by Park Chan-wook, the ending of the film is not an ending but a complex continuation of the issues addressed in the film. The viewer leaves the film disturbed, intrigued, and contemplative as the film persuades the audience to think more about what they just saw.