There’s an embarrassingly small library of fiction books and feature films, about the Japanese internment during World War II. The humiliating experience of 110,000 people of Japanese descent carted away from the West Coast and into hastily built concentration camps is still under-represented in American pop culture.
Classics like “Farewell to Manzanar” (in both book and film form) can be hard to find, and better-known Hollywood productions such as “Snow Falling on Cedars” (again, on both the page and screen) can be hits but are fleeting. One of my favorite indie feature films about the era, “Come See the Paradise” starring Tamlyn Tomita and Dennis Quaid, is little-remembered and deserves much wider acclaim.
There are still many stories left to tell about Japanese Americans and their time in concentration camps during WWII.
So it’s cool to see a young filmmaker using the contemporary tools of social media and “crowdfunding” (asking the public to donate money) to bring his original JA story to life. And, it’s even cooler to see that Chris K.T. Bright’s project, “Tsuru” has caught the attention and gained the support of enough people that its Kickstarter fundraising campaign reached its initial goal of $15,000 in a mere three-and-a-half-days. Kickstarter gives the money to a project only if it meets its goal; if the campaign fails, every donor gets her money back.
Now, Bright and his crew are hoping to keep raising money to reach their “Stretch Goals” in the month remaining in the campaign.
Yen Yen Woo and Colin Goh are a hyper-creative husband-and-wife team who came up with a brilliant idea: “Dim Sum Warriors” an interactive comic book about kung fu-fighting sim sum characters that’s available as an iPad app. Yeah, it sounds kinda corny but it’s super cool.
The app has all the action and coolness quotient of manga, but has an added educational bonus: It helps teach Mandarin. As you read the story, you can either read the dialogue bubbles in English or switch to Chinese, and hear the dialogue with a touch.
I invited the couple to be panelists on the comics panel at the V3con for Asian American Digital Media this past August, and they were great.
I’ve known about Kickstarter.com, the fundraising site for creative startups and projects in a variety of categories including film, art, dance, technology, design, journalism, comedy and others, but I’d never really looked into it. This week, though, I’ve come across several very cool films by Asian Americans that are using Kickstarter to ask for donations.
Here’s how it works:
Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors.
We believe that…
â€¢ A good idea, communicated well, can spread fast and wide.
â€¢ A large group of people can be a tremendous source of money and encouragement.
Kickstarter is powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.
Each project must set an amount needed and a deadline by which that amount must be raised. If you don’t get enough donations to reach the amount, you get none of the money that’s already been pledged. Each project offers different levels of thank-you gifts and rewards for donors, and donors can pledge as little as one dollar.
The submissions include a video pitch asking for donations, as well as written descriptions for the project. It’s a great way to generate crowd-sourced funding.
The three films I wrote about on my Posterous blog this week are all short films by Asian American filmmakers, and they’re all interesting ideas that I think are worth supporting. Here’s a little information about them, starting with the video at the top of this post, for “The Potential Wives of Norman Mao.”