My Films

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Women's Active Museum on War and Peace

Since my summer in Berlin, I have been wondering about the differences between how the Germans and the Japanese dealt with their war aggressions in the aftermath of WWII. Take a walk around Berlin and it is easy to see the remembrances to the Holocaust- the Jewish museum, the Jewish memorial, names of Jews embossed on to the pavements- but here in Tokyo no such memorials are to be found.

Sure, Japan is all about peace. Earlier in 2007, I traveled to Hiroshima with my classmates to learn about that atomic bomb and meet with hibakusha-radiation victims. (See my film on this trip here.) I've also heard somewhere that Japan has supposedly the largest number of peace museums in the world. Yet, due to the devastation of the atomic bomb, the Japanese state has perpetuated a victim consciousness that still remains strong today. Japan has never properly come to terms with the its responsibility for its past deeds.

However, there is one museum here in Tokyo which is aimed at educating the public of Japan's World War II aggressions against women. Over the weekend, my friends and I visited the Women's Active Museum on War and Peace in Waseda. WAM is dedicated to the issues of comfort women which is one of the most controversial topics when it comes to the Japanese aggression during World War II.

These comfort women were recruited through out the Japanese empire from rural areas to work in "comfort stations." Often under 20 years old, these women would be repeatedly raped throughout the day to "comfort" the Japanese military men. Even after the war was over, these women lived in shame and remained in silent suffering until 1991 when Kim Hak-Soon from Korea spoke out.

Demands for apology and compensation continues even today. Every Wednesday in Seoul, the comfort women victims from South Korean demonstrate in front of the Japanese embassy. While an apology was offered in the 1992 Kono Statement, the Japanese government has refused to claim any legal responsibility. As recently as March of 2007, when US Congress demanded that Japan offer a formal apology to the comfort women, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated, '"There is no evidence to back up that there was coercion as defined initially" in the role of "the Japanese military or government" in the recruiting of comfort women. '1

At the museum, you can browse through portraits of the comfort women, read their stories, learn about the fights and tribunals on their behalf, and watch an array of films in their library. Unfortunately the museum itself is only in Japanese, and due to size constraints it seems unlikely that much effort will be made to incorporate information in English. But there are a few videos in English that may be helpful in familiarizing you with the issue.

1. Norhteast Asian History Foundaiton, The truth of Japanese military "Comfort Women" 2007

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"View from the Bridge" film at Slamdance!

Hi, here is another update on a documentary film that I worked on while I was living in LA.


Seven centuries of ethnic violence.
Seventy-eight days of NATO bombs.
One symbol of perilous peace.

The most critical political moment in Kosovo's history coincides with the SLAMDANCE 2008 PREMIERE of the groundbreaking documentary, VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE: STORIES FROM KOSOVO. With Russia and the United States squaring off over the future of Kosovo, with the threat of renewed bloodshed looming over the province, and with all the world looking to Kosovo as a test-case for other war-torn areas, Kosovo is once again headline news. Within days or weeks, Kosovo may unilaterally declare independence from Serbia, a declaration that could re-ignite cold war tensions - or lead to civil war.

VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE: STORIES FROM KOSOVO - the first feature documentary about post-war Kosovo. Confused with the earlier Balkan conflicts and overshadowed by Afghanistan and Iraq, Kosovo’s story may hold the most compelling lessons of all. Sometimes hopeful, sometimes tragic, the struggle to make peace in Kosovo exposes the human cost of the politics of hate, and reminds us that the ultimate responsibility for peace lies within us all.

Treasure Mountain Inn
255 Main Street, Park City
Monday, January 21, 7:00PM
Thursday, January 24 12:30PM

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thesis update: Chat the Planet

Alright, there's a little over four months to go before I complete my 100 page thesis and turn it in. AHHHHHH!!!! Scary at the same time but incredibly exciting, as I will able to compile all that I have learnt and thought about for the past year and half. I've also just switched advisers (the previous one is retiring so I had to get a new one anyways) and I feel good about getting guided down a path of successful thesis writing.

My larger topic is media and peace but that as you can imagine is a pretty broad subject. I've seemed to have successfully ordered every book on that came up while searching for those keywords. Media and peace includes: peace journalism or sometimes called conflict-sensitive journalism; the role news media plays in peace processes; hate and propaganda media; radio-drama peace building media; information communication technology; citizen journalism and so and so on.

And while there is important information to be taken from all the above areas, I'm particularly interested in an uncharted area of media and peace. And that is, how does new media technology contribute to a culture of peace?

What do I mean by that exactly? Well, I'm interested in understanding first what is peace building media. What are the theories behind it? What has to be considered when making media that will effectively contribute to peacebuilding? and then how is the Internet or Web 2.0 being used to distribute this peacebuilding media (ie. through Youtube etc)? and because of the internet acceptability, does it allow for more interactivity and dialog between people (possibly people from opposite sides of conflict)?

My main case study for this thesis will be an organization called Chat the Planet. They are a youth media dialog organization based in New York and for sometime now they have been making media that brings youth together to dialog about issues that are important to them. Right before the war on Iraq began, Chat the Planet organized a two-way satellite TV show that brought young Americans and young Iraqis to talk with each other.

Their latest project is Hometown Baghdad is a webisode about three young Iraqis living under the US Occupation. Originally, they sought funding and distribution from the major US Networks but when they were turned down with reasons such as, "No one is interested in Iraq anymore," and "By the time this airs, the war will be over." They then privately raised money to hire an Iraqi crew to capture these every day stories and distribute it through Youtube. Well, their show was widely popular, so much so that they got a distribution deal with NBC later on.

Anyways, here is the first episode of their series which aired on the 4th anniversary of the war.

I'll be posting more thoughts on media, web 2.0 and peace over the next couple of months. Excited to be moving forward on this~!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Good Morning 2008!

There is nothing like the new year to reset your intentions and get clear about what you really want out of life.

I believe that this is the year that I fully step into my power. There are some big changes to be made this year and at times it may seem daunting but I feel that something truly positive is waiting for me.

For the past several years I feel that I have been "in school" and not just literally, as I have been pursuing my Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, but also in that I have been training myself on many levels and gaining life and work experience so that I may step into what I came here to do and that is to use the power of media to create positive social change.

Over the next six months, it is my intention to finish a well-written thesis on new media's role in peacebuilding, to build a website and game plan for my "career," and finish a few more video projects that will be part of my filmmakers reel. I also intend to make the most of time left in Japan by spending as much time with my friends, many who will disperse far and wide to do good in this world.

I ask the Universe for guidance and strength that will pick me up when I am down, give me strength through challenging times, and open the right doors that allows me to do the work that I came to do. I see my biggest spiritual lessons of 2008 are letting go of control, stepping out my own way, staying in the present moment, and having trust in the universe and my purpose.

May your year be filled with many blessings!
love and peace,