Spring 2010 Events

Three Asian Studies Film Series

Mondays at 7 pm, Alston Hall 10

Mira Nair Film Series

Asian Studies films this semester began with a series of three films by Mira Nair, the international-award winning film director whose films address issues of love, family, culture and identity in transnational Indian communities (pdf).

Jan. 25 The Namesake (2006, English with Bengali): Gogol Ganguli is torn between his parents’ Indian traditions and his decidedly modern lifestyle. Based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s best-selling novel, this coming-of-age drama explores first-generation Americans’ delicate dance between culture and identity.

Starring: Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, House); Irfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire)

Feb 1 Mississippi Masala (1992, English): Partially filmed in the South, Mississippi Masala presents an Indian-American family transplanted from Uganda to rural Mississippi.  Struggling to make ends meet by running a string of motels, complications arise when the daughter falls for an African American entrepreneur.

Starring: Denzel Washington (Gangsters); Sarita Choudhury (Lady in the Water)

Feb. 8   Monsoon Wedding (2001, Hindi and English with English subtitles): An extended family reunites to celebrate an arranged marriage in New Delhi. But long-guarded secrets threaten to tear the family apart. As wedding preparations proceed, five stories intersect, highlighting different aspects of love and crossing boundaries of class and continent.

Starring: Naseeruddin Shah (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)

6 Award Winning Asian Films

The second Asian Studies film series this semester features 6 internationally honored films related to China, India, Japan, Pakistan, and Vietnam (pdf).

Feb. 15 Departures (2008). Yojiro Takita (dir.) Japanese: 2009 Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards; 2009 Best Actor, Japanese Academy

Freshly unemployed, young cellist Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) has an epiphany in which he realizes he’s been heading down the wrong career path. Retreating to his hometown, he trains for a new professional role as a nakanshi, or one who prepares the dead for burial.

Feb. 22   Still Life (2006). Zhang Ke Jia (dir.) Chinese: 2006 Golden Lion Award, Venice Film Festival; 2007 Best Director, Asian Film Awards

Two couples reunite amid the construction of a new neighborhood along the Yangtze River near the old city of Fengjie, which is now under water because of the Three Gorges Dam. Like the submerged city, the couples must decide what’s worth saving and what’s best left behind.

Mar. 1  Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Danny Boyle (dir.) English and Hindi: 2009 Best Picture and 7 other Oscars, Academy Awards

After almost winning one million Rupees, 18-year-old Mumbai “slumdog” Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is arrested on suspicion that he cheated. While in custody, he regales a jaded inspector (Irfan Khan) with tales of his life on the streets and the story of  his lost love (Freida Pinto).

Mar. 8  Farewell My Concubine (1993). Kaige Chen (dir.) Chinese: 1994 Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes; 1993 Golden Palm, Cannes

In a plot that captures 50 years of Chinese history, a seemingly unshakable friendship between two Chinese opera stars gets put to the test in the face of war, a communist takeover, the Cultural Revolution and the intrusion of a woman who tempts both of them.

Mar. 22  Heaven and Earth (1993).  Oliver Stone (dir) English: 1993 Best Score, Golden Globes

After enduring a lifetime of hardship in her native Vietnam, a young mother (Hiep Thi Le) becomes the wife of a U.S. marine (Tommy Lee Jones) and starts a new life in America. Director Oliver Stone penned the screenplay for this final installment of Stone’s Vietnam trilogy.

Mar. 29  My Beautiful Launderette (1986).  Stephen Frears (dir). English: 1986 Best Film, Evening Standard British Film Awards; 1987 Best Screenplay, NSFC Awards.

A stunning portrait of two boyhood friends struggling to survive in racially tense Thatcher-era Britain, Omar (Gordon Warnecke), a Pakistani, and Johnny (Daniel-Day Lewis) use stolen drug money to renovate a London launderette, til conflicting interests threaten their newfound success.

Ang Lee Films in April

April 5 The Wedding Banquet (1993): This lyrical film dares to expand the definition of love. Wei Tong (Winston Chao) is a successful Manhattan businessman enjoying a thriving relationship with his live-in lover, Simon (Mitchell Lichtenstein). Life is perfect, except his parents don’t know he’s gay. So, when they decide to visit from Taiwan, his tenant, Wei Wei (May Chin), agrees to pose as his fiancée — a plan that goes a little too far.

April 12 Eat Drink Man Woman (1994): Distracted by their complicated love lives and secret ambitions, three adult sisters reluctantly humor their widower father (Sihung Lung) by enduring the elaborate Taiwanese dinners he has every Sunday. This charming tale humorously examines the clash between modernity and tradition within the contemporary Taiwanese family.

Enjoy a taste of China in the Alston Courtyard at 6:30 pm, before Eat Drink Man Woman

April 19  Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000): Potent performances from Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, and newcomer Zhang Ziyi give heft to this story about a young woman in ancient China who longs for an adventurous life rather than a dull arranged marriage. Woo-Ping Yuen’s (The Matrix) balletic martial arts choreography, adds to its power– and the treetop fight scene is not to be missed.

Chinese Spring Festival

Cultural performances and Chinese food will be the highlights for the annual commemoration of the Chinese New Year at UA.  This event will be February 7 at 5:30 pm in the Ferguson Ballroom.  Organized by the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at UA, the festival is open to the public, but it is a ticketed event.  Tickets will be on sale in the Ferguson Center, 2nd floor, Feb. 1-4.  The tickets at the door will be limited.

Sakura Festival 2010

The Sakura Festival is a month-long celebration of Japanese culture, organized through Capstone International Center at the University of Alabama.  Events include Matsuri/Festival in the Mall on Saturday, February 27 at University Mall in Tuscaloosa, a Hina Matsuri Doll Exhibit at the UA International Center for Students, and an exhibition of Japanese Woodblock Prints at the Ferguson Gallery, among other public events on and off campus.

“Oh Saigon” Film Screening with the Director

“Oh, Saigon” a documentary film by Doan Hoang, will be screened at the Bama Theater in downtown Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, March 24 at 7:00 pm. The film screening (pdf) is free and open to faculty, students, and the general public.  The event begins with a reception at 7:00, film screening at 7:30, and question and answer session with the film’s director at 8:30.  The film focuses on the experiences of the last family airlifted out of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.  The Asian Studies program is one of the co-sponsors of this event.

Tibetan Literature Events

Thursday, April 1, Pema Bhum, a Tibetan author and critic, and Lauren Hatley, a translator and literary scholar, will participate in two discussions at UA.  The afternoon event requires participants to reserve their spot by contacting Dr. Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa.  The evening event is a panel discussion at 7 in Gorgas 205.  The flyer provides additional details about this unique opportunity.

Anime Films

BAMA (Bama Anime and Manga Association), a student organization at UA, is hosting a series of 4 Anime films in Alston Hall 20 at 7:00 every Wednesday night in April.

Veena Concert and Lecture Demonstration

Internationally acclaimed Artist Vidvan D. Balakrishna plays the Veena, an ancient, seven-stringed instrument commonly used in Carnatic music in India.  Balakrishna will conduct a lecture demonstration on the Veena on April 13 at 8:15-9:15 am in the Concert Hall of Moody Music Building and a concert on April 15 at 7:00-8:00 pm in Gorgas Library 205.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience classical Indian music.