Center For Asian American Media event hosted by Lea Salonga, including Wayne Wang’s latest film, and a new food series in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 2, 2015 – The Center For Asian American Media (CAAM) continues its yearly celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2015 with a slate of programming including a “Filipino American Lives” series of three documentaries, director Wayne Wang’s (The Joy Luck Club) and his latest film, “A Soul Of A Banquet”, and a brand new six-episode series titled “Lucky Chow” which explores Asian food and its influence across the country.
Filipino American Lives is hosted by Tony Award winning actor and singer Lea Salonga.
From game-changing labor movements to the many cuisines of Asia to the significance of iconic public transit, here is a list of this year’s programming that further illustrates some of the many diverse stories of Asian and Asian American culture.
“The Delano Manongs”
By Marissa Aroy
Director Marissa Aroy puts the spotlight on trailblazing labor organizer Larry Itliong in THE DELANO MANONGS. Itliong and the Filipino farm workers instigated a defining moment in the American farm labor movements. Often overlooked in history, Itliong help lead Filipino, Chicanos and other ethnic farm workers in the Delano California Grape Strike of 1965 which, then brought about the creation of the United Farm Workers Union. The documentary uses interviews as well as archival and present-day footage to illustrate a story that highlights the many struggles and achievements of the movement
By Esy Casey and Sarah Friedland
The artistic and vibrant modes of public transportation known as the jeepney represent a totem of tradition in the Philippines. Director Esy Casey goes beyond the exterior of the decorated ex-WWII military vehicles and follows the lives of three people who share a connection to the jeepney: Gerry, a witty driver who has deep affection for tradition; Lhudz, whose remarkable artwork appears on the vehicles; and Manny, who grew up near a US military base and watched the evolution of the jeepney. With the vivid and historically rich jeepney, the documentary uncovers deeply personal stories and the effects of globalization.
By Benito Bautista
After his father’s death, classically trained musician Florante Aguilar returns to the Philippines after 12 years. While there, he is re-introduced to the music of harana, a tradition where Filipino men would sing under the window to declare their love for a particular woman – a serenade. Florante travels to provinces and meets some of the surviving harana musicians. From there, they help a young man serenade his object of affection which grows into a resurgence of the long l ost art. The men start performing in prestigious concert halls and record the first authentic harana album in 50 years. “Harana” captures a tender side of the Philippines that is rarely seen.
“Soul Of A Banquet”
By Wayne Wang
In the documentary “Soul Of A Banquet”, celebrated director Wayne Wang follows Cecilia Chiang, the woman who introduced America to authentic Chinese food. Her internationally renowned San Francisco restaurant The Mandarin opened in 1961 and changed the course of American cuisine. Through interviews with Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl, and Chiang herself, the documentary showcases Chiang’s remarkable food and paints a touching portrait of her life.
By Bruce Seidel
Six 30-minute episodes
From Peking Duck in Manhattan’s Chinatown to the kimchi of Los Angeles’s Koreatown to the nationwide ramen renaissance, the six-episode travelogue takes audiences across the country to show us how Asian cuisine has transformed the landscape of food in the United States. The series also takes a look at some of the country’s most talented chefs including ramen chef Ivan Orkin, carpenter turned Thai chef Andy Ricker, Filipino Food Movement founder PJ Quesada, and Korean adoptee “Top Chef” winner Kristen Kish.
By Duc Nguyen
Directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Duc H. Nguyen, “Stateless” presents another side of immigration by following a group Vietnamese people who are not considered as a national by any state, or “stateless.” Through flashbacks and real time interviews, Nguyen uncovers the complicated international history and politics in the post Vietnam-American war era, which resulted in over 2,000 Vietnamese refugees or “Long-Stayers” in the Philippines trapped without nationality or citizenship.
“Memory Of Forgotten War”
By Deann Borshay Liem
Historians Bruce Cumings and Ji-Yeon Yuh curate four accounts from survivors of the Korean War (1950-1953) in “Memory Of Forgotten War”. Through newsreels, U.S. military footage, and archival photographs, the documentary gives historical context to these personal stories of loss, struggle, and struggle.
“This Is My Home Now”
By Mariah Dunn Kramer and Dean MacLeod
“This Is My Home Now” documents the lives of four Montagnard youths whose families have come to American in the past decade from Asia. They live in two worlds—that of their parents and grandparents, who lived in the highlands of Viet Nam but fled from government persecution for their Christian religion and desire for autonomy—and one of constant learning and adaptation to be Americans in North Carolina. The program builds on an oral history project that involved 12 Montagnard teens in the Young Historians, Living Histories initiative, which was a 2013 collaboration of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Smithsonian Affiliations, the Greensboro Historical Museum and CAAM.
Please check your local PBS listings for days and times for when the episodes will air.
Known across the world for her powerful voice and perfect pitch, Lea Salonga is a singer and actress who is best known for her Tony Award winning role in Miss Saigon. In addition to the Tony, she has won the Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards, in the field of musical theatre. She was also the first Asian to play Eponine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway and returned to the beloved show as Fantine in the 2006 revival.
Lea most recently wrapped touring with Il Divo for the group’s worldwide “A Musical Affair” tour. When not on tour, Lea is a coach on the Philippine version of the hit “The Voice”. Mitoy Yonting, a member of Team Lea, was named the first season winner.
Prior to that, Lea garnered a Craig Noel nomination for Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical for her latest work inAllegiance, a production developed by legendary actor George Takei. Allegiance tells the story of a Japanese-American family forced into an internment camp during World War II. The production finished its run at The Old Globe in San Diego in 2012. She was also seen in God of Carnage in Manila, Philippines and Singapore.
Lea made her debut in the world of Cabaret in 2010, performing a sold out, three week engagement at the Café Carlyle in New York City. She returned to delight audiences in two more multi-week engagements in June 2011 and in May 2013, and released a live version of her 2010 concert “Lea Salonga: The Journey So Far,” her 26th career CD, in August 2011. The CD rose to the #3 spot on iTunes Jazz Charts.
Lea has toured the world performing in sold out concerts in such locations as the Disney Concert Hall, Singapore’s Esplanade, Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, Hong Kong Cultural Center, Bangkok Convention Center, Carnegie Hall, and numerous venues in her hometown of Manila, and in cities such as Vancouver, Sacramento, San Diego, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and San Francisco. She was also the first artist to sell out two shows at BYU’s de Jong Concert Hall since The Kings Singers in 2009.
Many fans of all ages recognize Lea as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and Fa Mulan for Mulan and Mulan II. For her portrayal of the beloved princesses, the Walt Disney Company bestowed her with the honor of “Disney Legend” in August of 2011 along such luminaries as Regis Philbin, Jim Henson (posthumously), and Anika Noni Rose.
She also served as one of the judges of the 2011 Miss Universe Pageant telecast, held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The telecast was viewed by over one billion people in more than 100 countries worldwide.
In 2010, she participated in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables to sold out crowds at the UK’s O2 arena. She also dazzled as the hauntingly tragic Grizabella in a limited run of CATS in her hometown of Manila. Lea also teamed up with legendary Grammy winner, Patti Austin, to perform the concert series, ‘Heart and Soul,’ in San Francisco and Las Vegas.
Lea also has continued to celebrate the music of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönerg, the creators of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, by participating in the recurring concert, “Do You Hear the People Sing,” with other renowned artists worldwide. The show, which debuted in 2011 in Indianapolis, has been performed in such cities as Dallas, Ottawa, Shanghai, and most recently as a charity concert event in Manila, raising over 24 million pesos (around $500,000) to build 200 new homes via Habitat for Humanity Philippines for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.
Honored with an appointment as a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Goodwill Ambassador in October of 2010, Lea vowed to act as an advocate for the Youth and United Nations Global Alliance initiative led by the FAO. The same year, she also joined forces with Avon as a celebrity judge for Avon Voices, alongside such artists as Fergie, Natasha Beddingfield and Diane Warren, in the first ever global, online singing talent search for women and songwriting competition for men and women.
In her 36-year career, Lea has performed for six Philippine presidents (from Ferdinand Marcos to Benigno S. Aquino III), three American Presidents (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush), for Diana, Princess of Wales, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She began her career as a child star in the Philippines, making her professional debut in 1978 at the age of seven in the musical The King and I. She went on to star in productions of Annie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The Rose Tattoo, The Sound of Music, The Goodbye Girl, Paper Moon, and The Fantasticks.
Lea began her recording career at the age of ten with her first album, “Small Voice,”which received a gold certification. In addition to performing in musical theater and recordings, she hosted her own musical television show, “Love, Lea,” and also appeared with international acts such as Menudo and Stevie Wonder.
Lea’s big break came when she was selected to play Kim in the megahit musical Miss Saigon in 1989. Given her popularity in the role, she was asked to return in 1999 to close the musical in London and again in 2001 to close the Broadway production.
In 2002, she took on the role of a Chinese immigrant in a reinterpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song, on Broadway. This was after the reinvented musical had a very successful run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2001, with Lea playing the lead role and the show garnering multiple wins and nominations, including a nomination for Lead Actress in a Musical for her, from the LA Stage Alliance’s Ovation Awards. The Salonga-led Broadway revival cast album was also a top contender at the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Musical Show Album.
An avid techie and gamer, Lea divides her time between Manila, Philippines and the United States.
CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. CAAM does this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media. For more information on CAAM, please visit www.caamedia.org.