A Lot Like You

A Film by Eliaichi Kimaro

A Lot Like You brings to life the complicated, messy, beautiful, and liberatory process of addressing harm and seeking healing within a family context…

-Wendy Elisheva Somerson, Tikkun Magazine

A Lot Like You has taken something personal, the story of her mixed-race heritage, and made it feel universal, and she has taken something universal, a yearning we all have to fully understand where we came from and what we’re made of, and made it feel intensely personal…

…The movie, she says, is “an invitation to start questioning and looking at some of those hidden truths and how those truths shape the cultures that we pass down to our kids.”

-Tyrone Beasley, Seattle Times

A Lot Like You…reminds us that cultural identity may provide the context for our experiences, but it is the experiences themselves — the depths of the joys and the sorrows they evoke — that truly bind us, whether blood related or not.

Personally the lesson I take away is that it is time to look past PC labels and instead search for the individual story.  That is where truth and connection lie.

-Warren Etheredge, The High Bar

By moving toward, rather than away from, the painful aspects of her family history, Kimaro breaks the family silence that’s become complicit in its trauma. And by documenting this sensitive and complex process of truth-seeking within her family, Kimaro provides a model for all of us to confront past violence in order to envision healthier futures.

– Bitch Magazine, Spring 2012 Issue

Families are messy and painful, and all that hard, complicated truth is what Eliaichi Kimaro’s autobiographical documentary A Lot Like You strives to unpack.  And it succeeds, in a series of sad, cathartic surprises…

-Lindy West, The Stranger

One reason this film works as a model for doing accountability work is that Kimaro situates her personal family story within a social, historical, and political context of African decolonization, transnational relations, race, class, and gender politics.  The result is a complex and beautiful film that brings the audience along with Kimaro to bear witness to some difficult truths.

 -Tikkun Magazine

A Lot Like You is a moving personal essay on family and diversity, but one that also has international themes. Beyond Kimaro’s girlhood trauma, she addresses the lack of female educational opportunities in Tanzania, genital mutilation, and a tribal system that remains stacked against women.

-Brian Miller, Seattle Weekly

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A Lot Like You takes us on a personal journey into the most vulnerable corners of a family history spanning generations and continents. This layered documentary starts with a familiar exploration of mixed-race identity as the narrator searches for her roots, but brings the discussion to surprising levels of personal and political self-awareness.

Fresh and inspired, tender and uncommonly smart, A Lot Like You triumphs as an exemplary work of first-person documentary for the 21st century.

-2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
Jury PrizeBest Documentary Award

Tender, intellectual, and reflective, director/writer Eliaichi Kimaro explores her intricate identity as a Tanzanian-Korean mixed-race, first-generation American in her award-winning documentary.  A LOT LIKE YOU lodges a personal lens to the perception of postcolonial and immigrant histories, confidently and sincerely bringing out the conversation between the individual, family and culture.

-Asian American International Film Festival
Audience Choice Award, Best Documentary Feature

This story, which borders on a legend, will touch everyone’s heart, regardless of gender, colour, personal history and social condition: the most optimistic of the films we’ve seen.

-Montreal International Black Film Festival
Jury PrizeBest Documentary Feature Award

With poignant personal reflection and an engaging visual style, A Lot Like You draws the viewer into a journey that is filled with rich, multifaceted stories and history…The film evocatively examines the intricate fabric of multiracial identity, and grapples with the complex ties that children of immigrants have to the lands and cultures of their parents.

-Michella Rivera-Gravage, Center for Asian American Media

No matter where you derive your own identity from, this film could change the way you think about not only your self, but everyone around you… for the better.

-Cleveland International Film Festival


“I think if there’s a film that really speaks to our mission statement, that would be it,” Pamela Quan says.  “At first when we saw the submission of the film, it was like, ‘OK, dad’s from Tanzania, mom’s Korean, how is this all going to work?’  We watched it and I think everybody feels like that film was made for them when they see it, because you question who you are.”

Set mostly in Tanzania, the discoveries that Kimaro makes about her past are gripping, touching on everything from achieving the American dream to a cultural tendency to sweep shocking violence under the rug.

-DisOrient Asian American Film Festival
WINNER, Jason D Mak Award for Social Justice

“A powerful and thought-provoking film exploration of identity and conflicts of culture, [Kimaro’s] film emerges as one of the highlights of this year’s festival. “

-Adam Lubitow, The City Paper (review for High Falls Film Festival)

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Eli Kimaro presents a poignant and honest account of her real life experience of seeking connection to her extended family and culture, of coming face to face with the violence and trauma that she, the women in her family and women across the globe experienced that changed their lives forever and continues to impact them today.

Buu Thai, Program Manager
Reentry Resource Center,  Santa Clara County

…The feeling the viewer has after going on this journey with her, and the connection we feel to not only Eliaichi, but her family in Tanzania, is nothing short of remarkable. Herein lies one of the special powers of film for me personally: the ability to make a culture and a group of people so different from our own so familiar and relatable.

The world needs more films like this, and it needs them to be exposed to a wider audience. Because if you can see a person from the other side of the world who lives in such different circumstances with such unfamiliar problems, and you can see yourself in them, then suddenly that distance between you and them becomes nothing. That is what will bring us together as a global community and inspire people to act.

Eric Roache, Art With Impact

ALLY’s website is a clear example of how communities can engage in virtual conversation that helps support one another…[and] of how we can use story to connect and share with communities everywhere!”

– Tracey Quezada, National Association of Media Arts and Culture

A Lot Like You weaves together big themes – exile and return, multicultural identity, violence against women – all told from an intimate point of view. For me, the film is a powerful reminder that when you scratch the surface of any story – from the tale of an entire culture to your own family’s history – you find stories of women’s suffering and survival. Some are hidden; some are known but not spoken; some have been repackaged as tall tales or family jokes. My family has these stories. I doubt I know one who doesn’t.

A Lot Like You raises questions for all of us – How does violence shape our sense of who we are? When we tell stories that have been silenced does that strengthen or threaten our family bonds? And what stories will we leave as our legacy for the next generation?

-Jake Fawcett, Can You Relate? blog

The story opened new doors to appreciating the complexities of what we like to think of as “global culture.” It is filled with intellectually provocative ideas, emotionally moving stories and political subtleties. But it was the personal story that clutched at my heart. The exchanges among Eli and her aunts and her parents were heart-wrenching, yet inspiring and I didn’t want them to end. I wanted to stay right there, listening, mentally participating, and wrestling with the ethical dilemmas the stories call forth.”

– Ginny NiCarthy, MSW
Author, Getting Free: You Can End Abuse and Take Back Your Life

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Eli Kimaro’s lecture was among the most inspiring and meaningful lectures I’ve attended all year.  Through her words, Eli is able to encompass themes of race, gender, and cultural identity, self-exploration and fulfillment, in a way that is genuine and universally accessible.  Eli’s story is one that inspires me to explore and embrace my own complexities, and I will never forget her words.

-Jacinta Lomba
Brown University

A Lot Like You raised so many important questions and provided such critical insight into how interconnected our experiences of race, class, gender, trauma and sexuality can be in forming our cultural identity.  I immediately wanted to figure out a way for my graduate social work students to engage with this powerful film.

-Nancy Shore, Professor Social Work
University of New England

Eli shared her truth with us so authentically that I know she inspired students in the audience to boldly stand behind their own truth. Her presentation, delivered thoughtfully and lovingly, shed a light on cultural identity and gender violence. Eli is a master story-teller who has found a unique way to share her important story. We were all enriched by our short time with her. Thank you for the gift of you!

-Joann Bautti, Women’s Center
Old Dominion University

Eli’s film, her experience, and its relevance to our students, was the highlight of our leadership conference, judging by the students lined up to talk to her afterwards.  She unpacks culture and personal narrative, with all their complexity, in a most respectful, yet approachable and humanizing way. The lessons she shared about her own life’s journey and making A Lot Like You served as inspiration for students’ who are striving to unfold their own stories in ways that matter.

-Pete Erschen, Student Activities & Multicultural Interests
Pacific University

Thank you so much for generously making the time to share your film with our eighth graders.  All of us appreciated the opportunity to learn from your experience–both of making the film and your own personal journey.  While we would have loved to engage with you further about the many issues you raised, I’m confident the discussion will continue in your absence….You left us with the perfect message as we embark on our own memoir unit: The more personal the story, the more universal it is. Thank you for that…

-Eva McGough, Language Arts Teacher
Lake Washington Girls Middle School

A Lot Like You is an amazing documentary that will be shown along with a Q&A with director Eliaichi Kimaro. Her moving film takes us back to her father’s family in Tanzania and confronts the realities of colonization, revolution, globalization, family violence, mixed identities, trans-national families, and reclaiming roots in a complex manner. Ellie is able to bring out all of the complexity and hold it in a warm space for us as she takes us on her journey of discovery of global questions that have personal answers.

– Charles Shealey, Council for Students of Color
Smith College

The content of [Kimaro’s] film and her life’s work is really important and relevant to the type of conversation we wanted to bring to Brown University… Our goal is to encourage Brown students to think more deeply and also to just expand their knowledge and experience ­intellectually and emotionally.  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.  That kind of conversation is always enriching and inspiring, and it is part of the goal of the Heritage Series.

-Brown Center for Student of Color
Brown University


NAMSO was thrilled to catch Eliaichi Kimaro’s award-winning documentary, A Lot Like You, at the New York Asian American International Film Festival back in August, where it won the Audience Choice Award for Documentary Feature.  A Lot Like You was truly moving, and…would be a fantastic film to screen on campus, as it reaches across many boundaries of personal narrative; identity; political, social, and gender issues; and cross-cultural and interracial experiences.

-Kendra Danowski, Leadership Council
National Association of Mixed Student Organizations

A Lot Like You addresses issues of ethnicity, gender, violence, the nuclear family, cultural attitudes and race in a way that is complex and engrossing. The movie is also an aesthetic delight. Its ability to weave different stories and concepts within a very personal framework suggests an artistic creativity I have rarely seen in my 19 years of teaching film. I would highly recommend screening the full 80 minute feature as its pacing, editing, dialogue, and music allow for a full understanding of the rich array of concepts presented by this wonderful director. Our campus was rewarded by our viewing of this film and Eliachi made the experience transcendent with her commentary.

-Jim Price,  Prof. of Art, History & Culture
Lewis & Clark Coll.

I want to congratulate you on finding your voice.  It was not about your parents but about you and your journey of understanding your process of identity construction.  Your film will impact lots of people.

Your voice is honest, compassionate, and able to integrate multiple perspectives of understanding of you and your roots.  I am really glad you are able to use your experience  of abuse to assist other women.  Yet, I ache for you and the ingrained sexism of our society and other societies like Tanzania and Korea.

Your film will be a marvelous contribution to many people with their own understanding of who they are.

-Dr. Heesoon Jun
Author, Social Justice, Multicultural Counseling, and Practice
Professor, Evergreen State College

My first reaction is that it’s very compelling material, a really emblematic postcolonial, post-globalization, and postmodern story that is timely in each of these ways.

I particularly liked the way in which A Lot Like You personalizes the emergent tension between cultural relativist or postcolonial sensibilities on the one hand and the notion of universal human rights on the other. This is one of the defining questions of our time: how do we embrace/embody the values of the various declarations on human rights without re-engaging in modernist or colonial projects? It’s a fraught problem for a time of global cultural diffusion and awareness.

 -Aron Hsiao, Managing Editor
International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society

Just saw A Lot Like You at Marylhurst University World Voices series in Portland OR. What a moving, revealing and insightful film. Visually compelling, musically intriguing, delivering diverse messages. Thought-provoking, layered.

–  Cheryl A. Hansen, Director of University Events
Marylhurst University

We were on a weekend long retreat with our UCLA student organization, SANAA when we got the chance to watch A Lot Like You and engage in a workshop after.

People who I had known for a while were telling me the stories of their roots that I had never heard before. The film kept being brought up that whole weekend – who are we, what stories do we create, how do we affect those around us with our stories?

It served as an excellent springboard to jump into further sessions about our own identities and how to use art to send positive messages.

Thank you for creating a film that everyone – black, white, asian, professionals, students, male, female – can relate to.

– UCLA SANAA (Social Awareness Network for Arts Activism)

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