This semester, we will curate and organize a mini-film festival (4-5 programs) or recent Asian American films, videos, and animation—all made within the past 2 years—as a collaborative, graded class project. Our activities for this project will include previewing and selecting works to include in the Festival, creating screening programs, Festival schedule, audience development, as well as related promotional material, organizing the screenings, hosting media makers, and facilitating discussion with the audience after each screening.
Background on the AAIM FIlm Festival
The first AAIM (formerly Mini-Festival of Recent Asian American Films) was presented in spring of 2009. The 2009 Festival included four screenings and in-person presentations of a historical documentary about Chinese in American feature films, a portmanteau feature by four women filmmakers that tackle four different stories about lives of marginalized women in Indonesia, a portrait of art and activism in Peru by a Japanese American filmmaker, and a film about the Los Angeles Miss Chinatown beauty pageant, featuring the guerrilla interventions of performance artist Kristina Wong.
Go to the Asian Americans in Media blog for more details from the past Festivals
Why A Collaborative Group Project?
Generally speaking, collaborative assignments are designed to foster learning as a group, and to promote solidarity rather than competition in the process of learning. The majority of media work environments you will encounter after you graduate will be collaborative, so this is a good time for you to build up those skills! These assignments are also good opportunities for you to address what you see as gaps in the curriculum (i.e. are there issues that you care about that are not addressed in the class?) You are encouraged to use them to contribute to your own learning process and take ownership of the class.
More specifically within the context of our class, this assignment is designed to put what you have learnt about the historical representation of Asian Americans into practice. You will be directly engaged with current works produced by (and sometimes for) Asian Americans. You will also learn how to plan, design, execute and promote media presentations to a larger public.
Festival Selection Process
This project will follow a rough schedule, outlined below:
- Week 4-7: Programming - view all films and videos in the pool, and select works to be included in the Festival
- Week 6: Confirm Festival dates, initial programming discussion - program format, initial program ideas, audience, promotional strategy, etc.
- Week 7: Festival programming - finalize program, contact media makers
- Week 8 (class after Fall Break): Festival logistics - finalize schedule, confirm media makers, tasks for the Festival
- Week 9: Festival program announced, promotion, planning
- Week 9-11: Final Festival planning and logistics(students work in small groups)
- Week 11: Festival takes place, tentative dates November 13-14
- Week 14: Wrap-up discussion, personal reflections/statements due (post on blog), grading
Film / Video Pool
Click here to download a list of the films and videos from which we will make our selection. They are all titles shown at the 2018 and 2019 LAAPFF, and selected with an emphasis on local makers (since we want them to attend the screening) . Please preview all of them by Week 8-9. Program notes from the LAAPFF are also downloadable here. All previews are on FACILIS and can be viewed within the Mosbacher/Gartrell Center for Media Activism and Experimentation (West Hall, Pitzer campus) in Q116 and Q120 (when they are not in use) or in the editing rooms (if you already have access from your other IMS classes) during open hours. The building is usually open between 7 or 8AM to about 10PM on weekdays, weekend hours are less predictable.
Below are some questions you should consider while previewing and selecting for the Festival:
- How does this film/video/animation relate to you are learning in class regarding Asian American representation in the media—does it address important issues for Asian Americans? Does it demonstrate an awareness of the history and community of Asian American media that it is a part of?
- Is the work exploring new voices and new experiences that are previously not addressed or under-represented in Asian American media? Is it breaking new ground?
- Is it well-made? Does it achieve its objective as a media work? Keep in mind that not all Asian American media should be judged according to dominant media industry standards, early Asian American independent films, for example, adopt a deliberately "anti-slick" aesthetic to distinguish themselves from Hollywood films and network television.
- How does it speak to the other works that you have selected? Are there common themes, dialogue, or do the works together paint a picture of larger ideas and concerns?
- Is there an audience for it (at the Claremont Colleges and surrounding communities) or can it bring together a new audience, build coalitions, and shape communities?
Community-Based Programs for Spring 2020
In spring semester, I will be teaching a follow-up class that will take the programs this class has curated into communities in the IE and LA area. Students in the class (MS101PZ) will work directly with community-based organizations to realize events in these based on the programs. We anticipate taking 1-3 programs into the communities. There will also be an internship with the LAAPFF, which will take place in early May.
Individual students are responsible for the following:
- View and take notes on all the titles in the F/V pool. I encourage you to preview and discuss in groups. You may also create preliminary program ideas as individuals or in groups while previewing;
- Participate in all class discussions on the Festival;
- Perform tasks, as needed, before, during, and after the Festival. These can include distributing promotional material, writing program notes, posting on the blog, introducing visiting filmmakers at screenings, facilitating post-screening discussions, etc. A Festival Production Schedule will be produce by the group, and staffed by all members of the class;
- Post your personal reflection on the blog, it will count for one of the three posts for each group member.
As a group, we are responsible for:
- Determining the date, place and format of the Festival
- Selecting the films, videos, and animated works for the Festival
- Creating 4-5 screening programs from the selected titles
- Designing a promotional strategy for the Festival and executing it
- Producing a production schedule for the Festival and staffing it
- Conceiving and executing a plan for audience feedback at the Festival events
- Dividing up tasks between group members, forming subcommittees, and jointly managing and recording important aspects of the project—we will probably need to have meetings outside of class, someone should always take notes during meetings and other group discussions
The class will receive a grade for this project, to be determined by the professor upon completion of the Festival. Criteria for grading will include:
- Concept, planning, and execution: did the programming and selection process reflect an understanding of the history of Asian American media production, and did the resultant programs present new perspectives on, or approaches to how Asian Americans are represented in the media? Was the Festival and programs well organized? Did it run smoothly?
- Collaborative efforts and results: Did everyone participate consistently according to her/his abilities? What did the group learn from this experience?
- Feedback from other students and guests (when appropriate)
While the class will receive the same grade, individual students do not get their grade until they have completed their personal reflection on the project, and have posted it on the blog. In your reflection, discuss your experience. How did the group process worked for you - are there things that you would do differently in retrospect? If so, why? What did you learn from programming and organizing the Festival? Did you learn something new about the subject that is different from what you learnt in the books and films we discussed in class? Did your views on Asian American media change during the project? Were there things that did not work, or ones that worked differently from what you expected?
If you do not post your reflection by the deadline (Week 14), your grade for the project could be marked down irrespective of the group’s grade.
If you do not consistently contribute to the best of your abilities, your grade could be marked down irrespective of the group’s grade.
Some Tips on Collaboration
||Working as a group can be both challenging and rewarding. It is vital that you do your share of the work and participate fully in the group's efforts;
||Everyone has different strengths, talent, and knowledge - use these differences strategically when you divide up the duties, but also treat this project as an opportunity to learn and acquire new skills;
||Everyone's opinion is important - take time out to hear what each other are saying, be respectful of differences within the group, make these differences productive, try to work by consensus as much as you can, come up with decisions collectively;
||If there are difficulties in group process, you are encouraged to come speak to me far ahead of the deadline so we can come up with solutions. Try to resolve these issues as soon as they arise, don't wait till the last minute!
||If your group wants to set-up a discussion forum on Sakai (sakai.claremont.edu) to facilitate your planning process, I am happy to do so, just let me know. You can also use other forums outside of the Claremont Colleges, such as Facebook, Google groups, etc. as on-line discussion spaces for your group.
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