The Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) is an annual film festival held in Vancouver for about 4–5 days in November every year since 1996. It is a not-for-profit organization that offers a platform for independent North American Asian filmmakers to show their works to both Asian and non-Asian audiences. The purpose of the film festival is to develop an understanding and appreciation of today’s independent North American Asian films and to represent the often ignored North American Asians caught between two cultures. The Vancouver Asian Film Festival Society provides a cultural bridge between the Asian and non-Asian communities as well as the Asian communities themselves.
The Vancouver Asian Film Festival of 2017 was taking place from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5. Many excellent film works were presented to the audience. Among all of them, the documentary, Paint It Red gathered plenty of attention and appreciation after it was premiering at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival on Nov. 5.
The fight for Chinatown is the theme of the film. “The film’s title, Paint it Red, is somewhat facetious,” the director Eva Cohen explained. “There are some examples in Chinatown right now where you have developers or expensive restaurants coming in where they think if they paint the outside and the inside red and put in a couple of lions that it makes it Chinese,” Cohen said.
There’re a lot going on in Chinatown, while the director Eva Cohen shines a spotlight on just one of the many issues in the continually contentious development and preservation efforts surrounding Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. What happens when a bunch of seniors face evictions and homelessness? They fight back! Eva Cohen documents the community’s fight against Beedie, a real estate development company’s proposal to put up a massive luxury condo tower in the heart of Chinatown. Beverly Ho is a young Chinese Canadian, one of the volunteers in the Chinese neighborhood who is dedicated to preserving and continuing Chinese cultural heritage in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Can they succeed to counter the reality? Can they save the dying Chinatown? This is a very typical film which represents the old generation of Asian American and Asian Canadian current situation. Here is the film trailer.
I interviewed Chelsey Su, whose family moved from China to Los Angeles, the United Stated since she’s 12. She’s living in a Chinese community in LA. When told these information to her and asked her opinion on the meaning of Chinatown, she had this to say,
“Chinatown is where Chinese or Asian can go when they have homesick. Chinese feel welcomed and belonged in Chinatown [sic].”
“How you feel about the dying of Chinatown and the change of Asian American identity?”
“Looking at the dying of Chinatown as an insider (Chinese), I would say we are losing our identities while we start to accept more influences from other cultures (not just American culture) which is pretty sad that more and more Chinese do not have a strong feeling of being Chinese (or are proud of being a Chinese). As an outsider (other race’s POV, if I’m not an Asian) I would say it’s a good thing that Chinese are more open to other cultures instead of keep everything to themselves.”