A Lot Like You

A Film by Eliaichi Kimaro

Maite ~ (8th Grade reviews ALLY)

March 11, 2015

maite quote

Dear Ms. Kimaro,

I really enjoyed your film. I thought it was amazing. All the music and shots were beautiful. I really like the animation in the part about your dad.  I thought it was really creative and helped show the story.

The interviews with your aunts were amazing and shocking. It really got me thinking of how different our cultures are. It really got me aware of how lucky we are in America, and how much we revolve around money.

It shows how much our world is so different from others. It’s both different in good ways and in bad. Even though those African villages don’t have much money, they use their resources to make food, houses, clothes, and all kinds of things. Us Americans have technology, fast food, electricity, and money.  Even though we have the money to make this nice stuff, we’re slowly killing the earth as we do it.

But the abuse towards women is terrible. The female circumcision is awful, but over there that’s a normal thing done. The wedding kidnapping is also really awful. I think your dad was trying to defend it for a little bit. I think that he was under pressure to defend it. I really liked your mom and your dad, but your mom was great.

I loved your film and hopefully you might make a new one. Thank you so much for coming and sharing your story with us.



[To read the other posts in this 8th Grade Reviews ALLY series, please CLICK HERE…]

5 screening events in the Bay Area

March 9, 2015

Bay Area Circuit
May 19-20 2015

Hey San Francisco/Oakland friends,

Excited to announce that we have 5 upcoming screening events in 2 days!!!

From the Press Release:  “Tanzanian-Korean-American filmmaker/activist Eliaichi Kimaro will be on hand to introduce A LOT LIKE YOU, recipient of 6 film festival awards. Opening will be Nigerian-Nordic-American writer/Interim Chair of Writing & Literature Faith Adiele’s PBS short MY JOURNEY HOME. The screenings, free and open to the public, will be followed by discussion with the filmmakers.”

Hope you’ll be able to join us as we share our respective journeys to document the diaspora through our distinctly mixed-race, feminist lenses…

Mixed Roots FLYER2


12-3pm:  California College of the Arts
Co-sponsored by the: Writing & Literature Program, Diversity Studies Program,
Visual Studies Program, Faculty of Color Research

6:30-9pm:  Museum of African Diaspora (Free admission)*
Co-sponsored by: Third Thursdays
685 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Room: Salon

10-12pm:  Laney College
Co-Sponsored by:  Women’s History Month
900 Fallon Street
Oakland, CA, 94607
Room: Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center

2-4pm: Mills College
Co-Presented by MFA and POC
5000 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland, CA, 94613

7pm: Matatu Film Festival
co-Presented by Top Ten Social

*Open to public.

Documenting the Diaspora Series

March 7, 2015

Microsoft Word - Doc Diaspora PR.doc

Isabelle ~ (8th Grade reviews ALLY)

March 4, 2015

What drew me into this movie the most were the stories. They were personal and realistic, and they created a connection between girls, boys, men, and women on opposite sides of the globe. The shocking discoveries and information shared amazed me, but it was the personal side of the movie that kept me enthralled. The film showed the lives and culture of people drastically different from me and many others, but yet similar in so many ways. It tied in experiences and common emotions, allowing an understanding and accepting in addition to the story. It created a mutual empathy between unique individuals.

In addition, the movie made me think. It reminded me that everybody has roots from different countries, beliefs, and experiences. Some people, adults, and children barely know, let alone understand, the culture and way of life where their parents, grandparents, or other family members come from. It sparked a curiosity inside of me to learn about where I am from and the part of my identity I am not familiar or comfortable with.

isabelle quote

My mom is Muslim and from Egypt, and my dad, who lived in Indiana, converted from Christianity to Islam in order to marry my mother.  And while I was raised Muslim, I consider myself Agnostic. I barely identify with the religious part of who I am.

Being surrounded by so many different cultures and having never visited where my mom grew up, I have only a slim comprehension of my passed down religion and what it means. Watching this movie encouraged me to think, ask questions, and begin to search for answers.

It’s been said that a good story changes the perspective of a viewer and alters the way they see certain aspects of life. Your movie did just that, and I cannot wait to expand my boundaries in order to understand a new part of the world we live in everyday.

[To read the other posts in this 8th Grade Reviews ALLY series, please CLICK HERE…]

Filmmaker discusses personal history, identity as queer black woman

February 26, 2015

Eliaichi Kimaro encourages reflection on intersectionality
as part of Black Heritage Series

By Brown University
Brown Daily Herald
Senior Staff Writer

Award-winning director Eliaichi Kimaro talked about race and identity in relation to her documentray “A Lot Like You” in a lecture sponsored by Black Heritage Series and the Brown Center for Students of Color. (photo by Taneil Ruffin)

Award-winning director Eliaichi Kimaro talked about race and identity in relation to her documentary “A Lot Like You” in a lecture sponsored by Black Heritage Series and the Brown Center for Students of Color. (photo by Ashley So)


“I felt like I had an understanding politically of what it meant . . . to be a queer black woman, but I was grappling with what it meant [culturally for] me to be black,” said Eliaichi Kimaro, who directed, produced and wrote the award-winning documentary “A Lot Like You.” The film focuses on the parallels between Kimaro — who is half-Tanzanian and half-Korean — and her family in Tanzania, despite the generational and cultural differences between them.

Kimaro did not screen her film but spoke about the varied dimensions of black identity in a lecture sponsored by the Black Heritage Series and the Brown Center for Students of Color Tuesday evening in Salomon 001.

Jacinta Lomba ’17 and Jo’Nella Queen Ellerbe ’15, who helped coordinate the event, “were looking for speakers that could talk about black identity, blackness or identity in general,” Lomba said. “We found a poster promoting Eli Kimaro and her film and thought it sounded really interesting,” she said.

“The content of her film and her life’s work is really important and relevant to the type of conversation we wanted to bring to Brown,” she added.

Kimaro began the lecture by discussing her experience working with a diverse array of sexual assault victims, including refugees, people of color and individuals who identify as gay or lesbian. Kimaro said she is also a survivor of sexual assault.

Kimaro delineated ways in which race, culture and gender can impact identity. She said she believes it is an individual’s duty to find a “creative way to contribute (one’s) own story to human experience.”

Because of the small size of the audience, Kimaro also questioned the students in attendance about their own creative processes and ways in which they would tell the stories of their families. Though students were initially hesitant to speak, encouragement from Kimaro eventually facilitated conversations about students who said they write poetry, listen to music, scrapbook or create websites as means of expression.

Kimaro closed the lecture by showing several clips from “A Lot Like You” and stressing the significance of the film as a repository for unheard voices.

Kimaro’s aunt — who is included in the film — had never shared her personal account of marital abuse prior to her interview with Kimaro. Kimaro, who used her cousin as a translator on her trip, said the language barrier and lack of resources in Tanzania kept her from supporting her aunt as she would have hoped. But ultimately, the safe space that Kimaro created for her aunt to tell her story was enough, Kimaro said, adding that her aunt passed away with a burden lifted from her shoulders.

When an audience member lamented Kimaro’s not screening the film at the event, Kimaro said she may offer a copy to the Brown Center for Students of Color for a screening at a later date and hold a question-and-answer session Skype following that screening.

“I think more than anything, our goal is to encourage Brown students to think more deeply and also to just expand their knowledge and experience ­intellectually and emotionally,” Lomba said. “That’s what I was hoping that tonight’s lecture would be for a lot of people, and I know for me personally it was.” 

“Eli Kimaro did a tremendous job of making me think about what it means to be this person with intersecting identities and my family and the world around me,” she added. “That kind of conversation is always enriching and inspiring, and it is part of the goal of the Heritage Series.”

Quinn ~ (8th Grade reviews ALLY)

February 25, 2015

quinn quote

Dear Eli,

I really enjoyed your film. Your story was nothing short of inspirational. The fact that you went to such great lengths to get to know your Tanzanian background is incredible, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and your family.

Your father’s journey from childhood to meeting your mother was fascinating to me. Growing up in an actual tribe, with so few opportunities to succeed beyond their routine farm life, he really did beat the odds. That was so inspiring to watch.

I was also very endeared by your parents sacrifice for each other. Your mother definitely pushed down some pretty rigid walls, and your father had to make quite a U-turn in his life path, all by meeting each other.

I myself was raised by my biological mother and her ex-partner, so growing up in a loving but unconventional home is something I’m pretty used to. My mother has been an ESL teacher my whole life, and watching your father’s story and connection to his tribe evolve made me wonder if any of my mother’s students have similar stories.

Probably my favorite part of the whole movie was watching the women around the village just pour their hearts out to you. I can’t imagine the burden those stories must have been for them. After all they went through in their lives, all the pain and abuse they suffered, they chose you to open up to. And their stories probably had a profound effect on me, just listening, as it did on them to tell them. You’re a pretty special lady, Eli.

I mentioned this in the post-movie reflection thing, but I have a donor father who I can’t have any contact with until I’m 18. Watching you connect with this foreign side of your family sort of made me wonder what it’ll be like to meet him. The surprises you encountered while getting to know your tribe were really interesting, and I was thinking I may someday have a similar experience meeting/contacting my father for the first time.

I was also so impressed by the fact that this was your first film. Having never picked up a camera before, the end result was pretty remarkable. Usually first attempts look like, well, first attempts, but to me your documentary looked like the work of a true pro. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Much love,


[To read the other posts in this 8th Grade Reviews ALLY series, please CLICK HERE…]

Thoughts on Blackness, Identity & The Power of Story

February 24, 2015

Today, I found an article in Salon about Jessica WIlliams that inspired the piece below.  I thought I might use it to frame my talk at Brown University this evening…but then upon arriving, we decided to change the format, opting for a more  intimate conversation about my film journey.  So I decided to abandon this intro and turn it into a blog post instead.  Look forward to hearing your thoughts…


I’m so honored to be invited to Brown University to share some thoughts on race, culture, identity…and the complexity of the Black experience. I was encouraged to learn about all the campus organizing and engagement that’s been happening around #BlackLivesMatter.

I think “Black Lives Matter” is particularly effective as a rallying cry because Black lives and Black bodies have been, and continue to be, marginalized, criminalized, dehumanized, and eradicated ~ with extreme prejudice. And the more I learn about its creators ~ Garza, Cullors and Tometi ~ the more I’m moved by their goal of re-building a more inclusive Black Liberation Movement by affirming all those Black lives whose voices have been traditionally marginalized within our own movement.  They are centering the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, mixed folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and Black lives across the diaspora and all along the gender spectrum.

And so this is the goal of our conversation this evening…to think about what it is at stake, and what would it take, to build a radically inclusive movement that draws its Strength from the phenomenally diverse array of Black lives and experiences represented.

I’m always looking to current events to help me frame these conversations. And while the Oscars definitely offered up more than a handful of examples…I found my muse this morning in Jessica Williams—the fierce, fabulous Black feminist correspondent on the Daily Show. There’s been speculation about who would be taking over Jon Stewart’s spot…and the fans on Twitter were loving on Jessica and trying to convince her to take up the mantle.

From SALON (Katie McDonough):

“After a week of intense speculation about who would be taking over “The Daily Show,” Jessica Williams addressed the rumors that she…should be…the heir apparent for host. In a series of tweets, Williams thanked people for the support, but said she wouldn’t be sitting behind the anchor desk any time soon.

[FAST FORWARD to] A little while later, a writer for the Billfold responded to Williams’ announcement with a piece that claimed she was a “victim” of impostor syndrome, and that she needed to “lean in.”

Williams swiftly defended herself against the accusation:

“Are you unaware, how insulting that can be for a fully functioning person to hear that her choices are invalid? Because you have personally decided, that I DON’T know myself- as a WOMAN you are saying that I need to lean in. Because of my choice, you have diagnosed me with something without knowing me at all. For the world to see.”

And with this, Jessica Williams breaks down why it’s highly problematic and insulting when “Lean In” becomes the universal narrative for how we value women’s work, women’s choices, women’s ambition. Whenever a single story becomes the “one size fits all” narrative, it disempowers individuals by erasing their agency.

These are the pitfalls and the Danger of the Single Story. In her TED talk, Chimamanda Adichie pulls the lens back to reveal the mechanics and the machinations behind the Single Story…

It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of power…How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.

Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.

And so it’s this re-centering of the Black experience that I want to talk about today. And I want to take this Meta conversation, and bring it down the most personal level, so that we leave here with a deeply ingrained understanding of what’s at stake when we allow others to tell our stories.

It is absolutely Critical that we find a way – our own creative way — to become the Subject of our own stories, and not the Object of someone else’s. My goal is to complicate this issue of Black identity by speaking specifically about my own experience.

I’ll use my journey to understand the cultural roots of my own Blackness as a jumping off point.

And then, I promise, we will pull the lens back, and talk about why it is imperative that we all find ways to share our stories, and to contribute them to this evolving narrative of the human experience. And why this act of radical self-love is a necessary cornerstone of building a more inclusive Black Liberation Movement…

So let’s jump in, and discuss how we can use our creativity to help us deepen into our understanding of who we are, where we come from, where we belong…

[…and t-h-e-n, we launch into my Talk 🙂  ]

Brown University lecture

February 18, 2015

Next week at Brown University, I will be examining our film journey through the lens of race, culture & identity.

From their event listing:

Eliaichi Kimaro is a social justice activist and award-winning documentary film maker of Tanzanian and Korean descent. Eliaichi Kimaro is also the founder/director of 9elephants productions, a company that uses video to bring stories of struggle, resistance and survival to a broader audience. Join us for a lecture and Q&A with Eliaichi Kimaro on the complex dimensions of Black identity on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 6:30pm.

Brought to you by the Black Heritage Series and the Brown Center for Students of Color.

Refreshments will be provided…

Looking forward to it!!

Taliah ~ (8th Grade reviews ALLY)

[This post is part of my Wednesday series — letters from Lake Washington Girls Middle School‘s 8th graders sharing their reflections on our screening + conversation about A Lot Like You.]

Taliah quote

Dear Ms. Kimaro,

I was amazed to hear that your father had a journey to the States much like my grandfather did. He was born in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. He traveled to the States on an engineering scholarship, and he met my grandmother during that time. They moved back to Ethiopia where my father was later born. I had never heard another family’s story that was so similar to my own.

I greatly admire your confidence about your culture and experience with abuse.

You opened yourself up to seventeen strangers and shared the deepest part of yourself. You began your journey not expecting to hear your aunts’ stories, but I think the fact that you didn’t know what to expect to hear made you able to receive their stories in a much deeper way.

I have also experienced the feeling of not really knowing where you come from. I traveled to Ethiopia in 2009, and I can honestly say that it was the most beautiful and uncomfortable experience I have ever had. I felt so out of place, but also so at home. I constantly wanted to find a place where I truly belonged.

Learning about my heritage made me so much more aware of the struggles that both men and women face when it comes to cultural norms. When we spoke about your father and his response to the Chagga marriage rituals, I not only noticed the true pain that young women go through, but also the obligation that men feel to be loyal to the bare bones of their culture. I can’t imagine the terror and pain that women were put through and I hope one day culture and the values of humanity can be balanced.


[To read the other posts in this 8th Grade Reviews ALLY series, please CLICK HERE…]

Ray ~ (8th Grade reviews ALLY)

February 11, 2015

[This post is part of my Wednesday series — letters from Lake Washington Girls Middle School‘s 8th graders sharing their reflections on our screening + conversation about A Lot Like You.]


ray quote

Dear Eliachi Kimaro,

I loved discussing your movie with you and talking to you about the journey you took to create this movie. The movie was inspiring and breathtaking. You are such a talented filmmaker and I was amazed to find out this was your first film. The story was gripping and beautiful all at the same time. You were also very well spoken and fun which made it so easy to talk to you about a difficult subject. More specifically, I loved how you put the movie together and how you incorporated your story.

I was impressed at the filming of the movie. I recently did a historical film on the Great Seattle Fire and I know from experience that it is very hard to put a story together in the form of a movie. I know you had other collaborators in the editing and the writing of the film, but I would like to comment on how nicely it was put together. I hope you know by now that you are a very talented filmmaker and I hope you choose to make another movie. The film made me smile and it brought me to tears, and these opposite reactions made me realize that it is a good film. I hope you know your talent and could bring it to another movie in the future. I would very much look forward to seeing another one of your movies.

I was equally astonished by how you wove your personal story into the film. I only have the experience of making a historical film and I understand how hard it would be to share your life story to total strangers. I was so impressed at how brave you were and how willing you were to answer our questions about your life. I know that if it were me up there, I would have been terrified and I was in awe of how calm you were during the film and sharing about your heritage. I want to thank you again for coming to share your film with me and my class. I was affected in many ways by your film and I hope you know that you are immensely talented. I look forward to seeing your next movie.

Thanks again,


[To read the other posts in this 8th Grade Reviews ALLY series, please CLICK HERE…]

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