Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Yanks For The Memories: Cross-Cultural Filmmaking With DeYung

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

If you were allowed to share just one memory with the world, what would that be? Would it be something personal, like your feelings about that precious pup you grew up with? Or, would it be something more worldly—like that high school graduation trip abroad? Unless, of course, you partied too hardy and would rather not remember that crazy night in Paris. What happens in Paris, stays in…

DeYung at NYU
Memories, as we know, can be both good and bad. But as we get older, we seem to revel in remembrance of that one happy moment or the experience of several magical moments. Even though we tend to embellish them the longer we reflect on them, the important thing is that we have them. In fact, memories are what seems to sustain us as humans.

This month’s featured Hip Hapa Homee is Taiwan-born filmmaker, DeYung Chou, who moved to New York City to attend NYU. Currently living in the Pacific Northwest, he makes documentaries of the elderly sharing their stories through vivid memories. Determined to record the older generation before they leave us, DeYung has made it his mission to film and share their memories with the world.

Q: DeYung, what motivated you to move to the U.S.?

A:  I got my Green Card and lost my dear mother both in 2007. Eventually, I came here in 2010 in order to start a new life and to take care of my health.  

Q: What was it like attending film school in America?

A: I enjoyed most of the courses that I took as well as the teachers. One of them always sat on top of the table and chewed gum while he was teaching, while the other always had us watch a movie before and after he made a few comments. My overall feeling about NYU film school was freedom and wisdom. You could be as free as you wanted yet you should be making yourself a wise student at the same time.

Q: What is the Memory Community Project?

A: Memory Community is a non-profit organization whose project “Memory Community Movie/Memoir” is making short films of elderly people, regardless of races and languages, and the most memorable story of their lives. 

DeYung in the Pacific Northwest
Q: Are there any differences between your American-born subjects and those who aren’t originally from here? For instance, is one group more willing to talk to you or to be featured on film?

A: Interestingly, up to now, my subjects are mostly American-born and English speakers. As an Asian myself, I naturally look forward to serving Asian communities. I did have a few Asian subjects who were originally from Taiwan, China and Vietnam. They were willing to talk to me and to be featured in a film. I’m confident that everyone will appreciate my project if they have access to understanding it.

Q: What are some of the best stories you've heard so far?

A: For my personal interest, it has to be the story that Robert Lee Smith, a Kentucky-born U.S. Air Force veteran, shared in his film. He spent many good years serving his country in my home country. He even lived in the city where I was born and grew up. His story makes me nostalgic. 

Q: Any future plans?

A: One is to bring the project to all age groups. Another is to showcase films made by people around the world on my website. The third is to be able to hire a professional staff.

Q: How can Hip Hapa Homeez help?

A: Since 2012, I have heard from some locals who want to volunteer for my organization. I appreciate that greatly since I’m still pretty much of a newcomer here in Washington State. Donations of money are probably more needed at this point. For instance, I haven’t been able to cover the application fee for the necessary 501(c) (3) status for the organization. Media coverage can effectively help, too.

Okay, got that Hip Hapa Homeez? Let’s support this amazing project that brings our elderly to the forefront. Thank you, DeYung.

And, here’s the link to former yank Robert Lee Smith’s story, second video down:

born in the wrong month

Hey, all you Yayoi’s who celebrated birthdays last month (Yayoi can mean early Spring sky in kanji), I send you an omedetto gozaimashita and congratulations. If you’ve been with me for awhile, then you may recall that my artistic mother named me Yayoi in spite of her Japanese doctor scolding her about doing so too late in the season. Every year, I just have to wait it out until May as I check out Yayoi’s all over the world cavorting in cherry blossom heaven.

Remember to like Watermelon Sushi and Hapa*Teez on Facebook. We have vid clips of Hapa*Teez on YouTube and you can also buy one at Café Press. For stimulating discussion about being mixed, interracially involved, transracially adopted, or living the cross-cultural life, join our Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook.

Until we meet in May, I am and will always be

Your Hip Hapa,