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New Asian Currents

They say that the phrase "melting pot of races," once so often used to describe the multi-ethnicity of America, is now out of date. Instead of a hotchpotch stew, "salad bowl" is now deemed the correct terminology with which to represent the ideal of immigrants living side by side, as each maintains and fosters their own distinct and unique culture. The image of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber tossed uncooked in a bowl supposedly offers an alternative image to that of being helpless in the hands of some superpower chef.

Attempting to represent the entirety of multi-ethnic Asia, a vast region with diverse climate, people, religions, history, and political systems, in one film festival program is a hopeless feat, and so we too have no choice but to take the salad bowl approach. New Asian Currents '97 is indeed an amazingly diverse collection of new documentaries from Asia and beyond. 41 films and videos from 24 regions and countries offer a kaleidoscope view of Asia today, standing proudly as products of distinct cultures and unique talents. One look at the list of films on the previous page is enough to verify the vast scope of geography that New Asian Currents covers this year. Not so apparent is the great variety in themes, styles, and functions that these documentaries represent. While some filmmakers opt for a journalistic approach to social issues, others offer a series of lyrical images and sound. 8mm film is used for a personal, confessional grain, while state-of-the-art video equipment in post-production can present an impressive matrix of images and text. Increasing accessibility in the price and quality of the video camera makes it a welcome tool in the world of activism. In terms of style, many works experiment with alternative and imaginative approaches, including free use of fiction, narrative, and humor.

At New Asian Currents, you will find diversity in language and means of communication, landscapes and lifestyles--all direct from the front ranks of Asia today. It is advised, however, that instead of daintily tucking in a napkin under the chin in anticipation of a healthy salad, the way to go about it is to jump into the salad bowl! Scores of unpolished but precious gems will greet you and it will be up to you to see what pleasures can be discovered. With the rough and tumble of A Thousand and Ten Thousand Waves, I wish you a thrilling voyage.

-- Fujioka Asako
New Asian Currents coordinator



Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee