Vietnamese filmmakers Sally Tran and Phuong Vo have created a short film about the history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.
What it’s about: The short film, entitled “Centuries and Still,” unveils the “search for justice [that] goes back to the Gold Rush era fetishization of Asian women, to today’s hate crimes targeting Asian elders.”
Education in action: The filmmakers said they believe in “education in action” through visually engaging documentaries as a way to help people learn and unlearn history.
- The film, which premiered on July 14, was directed by Tran, while Vo served as producer. Tran is a writer and director based in New York City by way of New Zealand and Vietnam. Vo is a Vietnamese American independent film producer and photographer who arrived in the U.S. in 2013.
- “Asian American hate is as old as American history,” the film narrates. It portrays some of the historical events that took part in the birth and perpetuation of anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes that are still happening to this day.
- The film includes paper-cut illustrations of 84-year-old Thai man Vicha Ratanapakdee, who was fatally attacked in San Francisco; 61-year-old Filipino Noel Quintana, who was slashed in the face in New York City’s subway; and the Atlanta massage parlor shooting which took the lives of six Asian women.
- According to Stash Media, “Centuries and Still” was inspired by Tran’s film in the same style, “60 Years and Still,” which portrays the history of racism against Black people in America.
- “Through this film, we hope to raise awareness on what has been happening to the Asian Pacific Islander community in America and inspire the audience to take action in the fight for racial justice. We believe that all efforts must be supported, and each of us plays a role in advancing justice and equality for all,” the filmmakers stated on the film’s website.
- According to VnExpress International, Tran and Vo embarked on the nonprofit film project in April due to their frustrations with the surge of anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes across the U.S.
- The film is a collaborative effort made up of the artistic styles of different Asian artists, each drawing one or two illustrative scenes.
- According to Northwest Asian Weekly, Tran said, “We wanted to relate the title to ‘hidden stories’ or ‘shadows’ because it represents the important parts of AAPI history that were concealed or erased from the public eye…the shadows are used to create the mood and time flow of the film to honor the victims of anti-Asian violence and those who came before us that set the foundation for Asian people in America. Parts of AAPI history were kept in the dark on purpose, so our job here, through this film, is to bring it to light.”