It’s always a treat to hear how people choose to introduce this film at various events. Often times, they pull info straight from our website. Occasionally, someone will abandon this well-worn safety net, and just speak from the heart. These are my favorite, because I learn so much from how they choose to frame our story, and seeing which issues rise to the surface.
The intro to our film at the DisOrient Film Festival was phenomenal — especially given that Leah Dunbar had never seen the film! But her intro summed it up so beautifully, I asked if she’d be willing to share it with me. And she graciously said “Yes.”
. . . . . . . . . .
Good afternoon. My name is Leah Dunbar and it is my honor to welcome you to the DisOrient Film Festival and to introduce A Lot Like You, the Centerpiece film of this amazing weekend of visual storytelling. Many of you are probably well aware of the mission of DisOrient, but in case you’re a newcomer (like me), I’d like to tell you a little bit about the wonderful organization that has sponsored this special event…
DisOrient is a non profit, social justice film festival that is committed to deconstructing the stereotypes of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, that you mostly see in films produced in Hollywood. DisOrient provides a venue for these voices. Since I’m a teacher of a course called ‘Courageous Conversations’ at Churchill High School here in Eugene, I applaud this insistence on representing the authentic voices of the wide variety of American experience.
DisOrient is community based — staffed by volunteers spanning four generations: middle school through elders, of many ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and I applaud the work of my friend, Anselmo Villanueva, the executive director who coordinates this extraordinary festival. Thank you, Anselmo, for all your efforts, and for bringing us all here today.
I believe Anselmo invited me to introduce Eli Kimaro’s film A Lot Like You to you for a few reasons:
Firstly, he knows, as my former University instructor, that I share with this festival, the conviction that authentic stories, can illuminate and liberate, and that there are stories that we have a responsibility to bring to the light, even if they are painful ones. As I tell my students: sometimes we need to pick the scab to heal the wound.
Two, he knows that my identity as a biracial American, (like Eli Kimaro’s) has prompted me to explore with my students the intersections of peoples, journeys, the notions of oppressors and the victimized, of JUSTICE and what it means to be human. This complexity of being is, in my opinion, one that we all share, and, in my case, has led me to explore how our stories can shape us, confine us, inform us, entertain us, free us, and give us NEW ways of seeing the world around us, and ourselves. It is my understanding that A Lot Like You is a documentary that does all that and more. I can’t wait to talk to Eli about coming to visit my class.
Lastly, I think Anslemo invited me here because he knew that I would appreciate the courage and vision of Eli’s story. Eli’s award winning documentary is, in her words, ‘a film that is ultimately about the lens we all bring to the story of our lives…the stories we inherit about who we are and where we come from; and how we filter the stories that we pass down to the next generation, and why…’ I suggest that the WHY is that we are always learning about ourselves when we learn about what it means to be someone else. Sharing these stories extends our awareness, our compassion, and our humanity.
I’m very excited to see what this film reveals about Ms. Kimaro’s investigation into her father’s Tanzanian culture, and her own first generation mixed-race American identity. I hope you enjoy A Lot Like You, and I invite you to stay following the conclusion of the film for the Q&A with Ms. Kimaro and producer Thomas Kenney. Thanks for your attention, and enjoy!