Ricepaper Magazine » Ricepaper Magazine | Ricepaper Magazine http://ricepapermagazine.ca Asian Canadian Arts and Culture Mon, 15 Sep 2014 23:01:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 TIFF Dispatch: Albert Shin’s In Her Place http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/09/tiff-dispatch-albert-shins-in-her-place/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/09/tiff-dispatch-albert-shins-in-her-place/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 22:10:31 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10150 RgM5P0__inherplace_01_o2__8284428__1407351688

On a rural South Korean farmstead, a married middle-aged couple arrive at the home of a single mother (Kil Hae-yeon) and her pregnant teenage daughter (Ahn Ji-hye). The parties have struck a deal. The couple will adopt the girl’s child … more »

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On a rural South Korean farmstead, a married middle-aged couple arrive at the home of a single mother (Kil Hae-yeon) and her pregnant teenage daughter (Ahn Ji-hye). The parties have struck a deal. The couple will adopt the girl’s child fathered by her teenage boyfriend, now unwanted by her mother. Meanwhile, while the husband returns to the city, the wife (Yoon Da-kyung) will stay to accompany the expecting mother until her baby is due.

Ottawan Albert Shin’s forlorn second feature dramatizes the common practice of secret adoptions in a part of the world where the pressure to maintain ancestral lineage is often as immense as it is unforgiving. To avoid being cast as failures, married couples unable to produce children sometimes resort to adopting newborns in secrecy. While this still doesn’t stop the rampant speculation about the reproductive lives of others, the logic goes that when appearances are kept, social harmony is attained.

Much of the story’s dramatic arc derives from the mutual distrust the film’s three female characters develop toward one another. This tension builds slowly, taking the form of a poisonous chill which breezes into the household the moment the couple arrives. But the emotional heart of this three-way relationship is centred around the girl’s growing refusal to surrender her child to strangers. When she realizes the adults around her are denying her a shot at motherhood, her resistance threatens to upend the business transaction.

A project conceived after several years of research in which Shin worked and filmed in his second language, the result is an engaging drama that is headlined by compelling turns by veteran theatre actresses Yoon Da-kyung and Kil Hae-yeon as the two adult women. As the scraggy teenage girl traumatized by the abuse of her kin, Ahn is captivating to watch. A brief supporting role by Kim Chang-hwan as the feckless teenage father-to-be is also solid.

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TIFF Dispatch: Ken Kwek’s Unlucky Plaza http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/09/tiff-dispatch-ken-kweks-unlucky-plaza/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/09/tiff-dispatch-ken-kweks-unlucky-plaza/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 15:34:27 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10134 Unlucky Plaza 1

Notwithstanding writer-director Ken Kwek’s claim that social commentary isn’t a card he is playing, his debut feature—an uneven but respectable effort—will nevertheless attract filmgoers attuned to Singapore’s cultural life and current affairs simply because it invokes the tense relationship between … more »

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Notwithstanding writer-director Ken Kwek’s claim that social commentary isn’t a card he is playing, his debut feature—an uneven but respectable effort—will nevertheless attract filmgoers attuned to Singapore’s cultural life and current affairs simply because it invokes the tense relationship between Singaporeans and foreigners now on a rolling boil in the city-state. But for everyone else, Unlucky Plaza is likely to be an OK caper at best, or else elicit a trifling “so what” at worst.

In this black humoured escapade, the desperate lives of debtors and creditors cross paths. Filipino immigrant Onassis (Epy Quizon) is a single father struggling with his restaurant when a smug motivational speaker and his adulterous wife (Adrian Pang and Judee Tan) target him in a home rental scam, with an unwitting accomplice in tow, the wife’s pastor (Shane Mardjuki). Despite gilded appearances, the Singaporean couple is also insolvent and is being hounded by a Mainland Chinese loan shark (Guo Liang). Pushed to the edge, Onassis takes them all as hostages in the couple’s bungalow in a bid to settle scores.

Kwek has acknowledged, both in interviews prior and at the Q&A of the film’s first public screening, that contemporary American crime dramas, such as early Coen Brothers’ films, have inspired him. The influence is there, since his characters are ensnared in dangerous consequences that snowball from desperation. Kwek’s experiment is doubly challenging: plotting an impressive crime caper is hard enough, but to sustain it with a local brand of ironic and fantastical humour isn’t easy—especially in Singapore, which is too square for its own good.

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Unlucky Plaza’s world premiere in Toronto marks an ongoing trend in global visibility for Singaporean films in recent years. This is the second year running that Toronto has placed a Singaporean film in its Discovery section—although overall, it’s Singapore’s third film in five years, after Boo Junfeng’s Sandcastle (2010) and Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo (2013). But back home, audiences are unlikely to embrace it in the same ways as these titles since the crime genre is hardly produced in Singapore, while the film’s irreverent pedigree and distinctly Western flavour is little appreciated at best.

For now, this point is moot since the film has at least two hurdles to cross: finding a domestic distributor and clearing Singapore’s censors, who will flinch at the liberal use of profanity and strong language (this is the first Singaporean feature with the most number of ‘fucks’ uttered), mordant swipes at religion, and dashings of, per Kwek, “subjective racism.” The film’s title references the name of an old school mall in downtown Singapore called Lucky Plaza, where Onassis’ restaurant is located, but which is more popularly known as a hangout spot for Singapore’s Filipino community.

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TIFF Dispatch: The 39th Toronto International Film Festival underway http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/09/tiff-dispatch-the-39th-toronto-international-film-festival-underway/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/09/tiff-dispatch-the-39th-toronto-international-film-festival-underway/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 00:45:11 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10108 Ricepaper

Toronto’s 39th edition runs 4-14 September 2014 and packs about 400 feature films and short films from 79 countries across 16 programs. East Asian content dominates the festival’s Asian selection overall, with an average of ten films each from Greater … more »

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Toronto’s 39th edition runs 4-14 September 2014 and packs about 400 feature films and short films from 79 countries across 16 programs. East Asian content dominates the festival’s Asian selection overall, with an average of ten films each from Greater China, Japan and South Korea. This year sees return appearances by directors Peter Chan, Lav Diaz, Hong Sang-soo, Sono Sion, Johnnie To and Tsai Ming-liang—all of whom are presenting new films in Toronto for the second year running. (For Hong and Sono, it’s their third year running.)

A program highlight is Toronto’s sixth annual City to City series profiling cinematic and filmmaking trends from a fashionable urban locale. This year, that choice is Seoul, the event’s first East Asian city. The lineup comprises eight new films from contemporary directors in an attempt to capture the remarkable energy that typifies South Korean filmmaking—itself part of Hallyu, the South Korean wave of popular culture admired globally since the 1990s. These titles are in addition to several other South Korean films programmed in other sections.

Other notable films in the lineup include: The Golden Era, Ann Hui’s biopic of Chinese author Xiao Hong; The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to his acclaimed documentary The Act of Killing (2012); Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo’s crime drama Revenge of the Green Dragons, executive produced by Martin Scorsese; Studio Ghibli co-founder Takahata Isao’s latest animated feature The Tale of the Princess Kaguya; and Mami Sunada’s related documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, which profiles Studio Ghibli’s creative personalities at work in recent years.

This year’s feature films from (or about) Asia are:

Argentina
La Salada (Juan Martín Hsu, Argentina 2014) – Discovery

Belgium
Tokyo Fiancée (Stefan Liberski, Belgium/Canada/France 2014) – Contemporary World Cinema

Cambodia
The Gate (Régis Wargnier, Belgium/Cambodia/France 2014) – Special Presentations

China/Hong Kong/Taiwan
Breakup Buddies (Ning Hao, China 2014) – Special Presentations
Coming Home (Zhang Yimou, China 2014) – Special Presentations
Dearest (Peter Ho-Sun Chan, China/Hong Kong 2014) – Special Presentations
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 (Johnnie To, China/Hong Kong 2014) – Special Presentations
Dragon Inn (King Hu, Taiwan 1967) – TIFF Cinematheque
The Goddess (Wu Yonggang, China 1934) – TIFF Cinematheque
The Golden Era (Ann Hui, China/Hong Kong 2014) – Masters
I Am Here (Fan Lixin, China 2014) – TIFF Docs
Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang, Franc/Taiwan 2014) – Wavelengths
Partners in Crime (Chang Jung-chi, Taiwan 2014) – Contemporary World Cinema
Red Amnesia (Wang Xiaoshuai, China 2014) – Special Presentations

Indonesia
The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Finland/Indonesia/Norway/UK 2014) – TIFF Docs

Japan
Cruel Story of Youth (Oshima Nagisa, Japan 1960) – TIFF Cinematheque
Fires on the Plain (Tsukamoto Shinya, Japan 2014) – Wavelengths
Kabukicho Love Hotel (Hiroki Ryuichi, Japan 2014) – Contemporary World Cinema
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Sunada Mami, Japan 2013) – TIFF Docs
Over Your Dead Body (Miike Takashi, Japan 2014) – Vanguard
Still the Water (Kawase Naomi, Japan/France/Spain 2014) – Contemporary World Cinema
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Takahata Isao, Japan 2013) – Masters
Tokyo Tribe (Sono Sion, Japan 2014) – Midnight Madness
The World of Kanako (Nakashima Tetsuya, Japan 2014) – Vanguard

Malaysia
Men Who Save the World (Liew Seng Tat, France/Germany/Malaysia/Netherlands 2014) – Contemporary World Cinema

The Philippines
From What is Before (Lav Diaz, The Philippines 2014) – Wavelengths
Justice (Joel Lamangan, The Philippines 2014) – Contemporary World Cinema
Where I Am King (Carlos Siguion-Reyna, The Philippines 2014) – Contemporary World Cinema

Singapore
Unlucky Plaza (Ken Kwek, Singapore 2014) – Discovery

South Korea
Alive (Park Jung-bum, South Korea 2014) – City to City
Cart (Boo Ji-young, South Korea 2014) – City to City
Confession (Lee Do-yun, South Korea 2014) – City to City
A Dream of Iron (Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, South Korea/USA 2014) – City to City
A Girl At My Door (July Jung, South Korea 2014) – City to City
Gyeongju (Zhang Lu, South Korea 2014) – City to City
Haemoo (Shim Sung-bo, South Korea 2014) – Gala Presentations
A Hard Day (Kim Seong-hun, South Korea 2014) – City to City
Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea 2014) – Masters
In Her Place (Albert Shin, Canada/South Korea 2014) – Discovery
Revivre (Im Kwon-taek, South Korea 2014) – Masters
Scarlet Innocence (Yim Pil-sung, South Korea 2014) – City to City
Songs From the North (Yoo Soon-mi, Portugal/South Korea/USA 2014) – Wavelengths

Thailand
Sway (Rooth Tang, France/Thailand/USA 2014) – Discovery

USA
Revenge of the Green Dragons (Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo, USA 2013) – Special Presentations

Vietnam
Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (Diep Hoang Nguyen, Vietnam 2014) – Discovery

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Ricepaper at Powell Street Festival! http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/ricepaper-at-powell-street-festival/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/ricepaper-at-powell-street-festival/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:17:27 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10068 Come hang out with us at the Ricepaper booth this weekend Aug 2-3 at the 38th Annual Powell Street Festival. The festival has moved to 500 Alexander Block! We have a booth where you can buy some awesome subscriptions, magazines more »

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Come hang out with us at the Ricepaper booth this weekend Aug 2-3 at the 38th Annual Powell Street Festival. The festival has moved to 500 Alexander Block! We have a booth where you can buy some awesome subscriptions, magazines and participate in fun activities!

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Ricepaper Haiku Death Match  

Sunday, 3:00-3:30pm @  Ricepaper Magazine Booth in Community Booth Section

Register to compete at the Ricepaper booth on Saturday or Sunday

You’re invited to join and compete in the Ricepaper Haiku Death Match. You’ll compete in a tournament style competition — writing only haikus! Winning haikus will move up the tournament rankings and eventually will be Haiku champion. All works will be published on RicepaperMagazine.ca but only one winner will be crowned and receive the Ricepaper Haiku Death Match trophy.


SHISHOSETSU LITERARY READINGS curated by Leanne Dunic:

Sunday, 1:30 – 2:15 p.m., Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova Street)

Before the wave of “New Narrative” swept the west coast with its confessional-styled prose, the Shishosetsu (also known as Watakushi Shosetsu or I-novel) emerged in the early part of the 20th century in Japan . The genre is distinguished by self-revealing narrative with the author as the central character, allowing for the author to enter their narrative on an intimate level. The reader may then question the boundary between fiction and non-fiction.

For this year’s Powell Street Festival, three authors were selected to interpret the shishosetsu in their own way, while considering the theme of this year’s festival: roots. The authors are Sally Ito (Manitoba), Lydia Kwa (British Columbia), and Marie Mutsuki Mockett (New York). Each author has written a piece exclusively for the Powell Street Festival, which we have then adapted into the chapbook available at the Festival. Excerpts from these chapbooks will be featured inRicepaper magazine, and there will be a reading in a salon-style gathering, with a post-reading Q & A session.

Limited edition chapbooks edited by Leanne Dunic with writings by Sally Ito, Lydia Kwa, and Marie Mutsuki Mockett will be available for sale at the Powell Street Festival Sales booth or at the Literary reading on Sunday August 3rd, 1:30-2:15pm, Firehall Arts Centre.

Curator: Leanne Dunic

Leanne Dunic is a multi-disciplinary artist and a writer of music, poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. She is a graduate of SFU’s The Writer’s Studio, where she focused on poetry and lyric prose. In her previous lives, Leanne owned businesses in the music and fashion industries. She is currently a mentor at SFU’s Southbank Writers’ Program, and the singer/guitarist of the band Luck Commander.

Website: http://www.leannedunic.com/

Literary Contributors

Lydia Kwa (contributor)
Marie Mutsuki Mockett (contributor)
Sally Ito (contributor)

 

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PechaKucha 20 x 20 featuring Ricepaper’s own KRISTIN CHEUNG http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/pechakucha-20-x-20-featuring-ricepapers-own-kristin-cheung/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/pechakucha-20-x-20-featuring-ricepapers-own-kristin-cheung/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 18:00:36 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10044 pecha-kucha

Richmond hosted its 7th PechaKucha 20 X 20 Night on July 16th at the Richmond Cultural Centre with the theme of exploring the relationship between technology and the human experience.

The night’s opening presentation was by Kristin Cheung, Gateway Theatre’s … more »

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Richmond hosted its 7th PechaKucha 20 X 20 Night on July 16th at the Richmond Cultural Centre with the theme of exploring the relationship between technology and the human experience.

The night’s opening presentation was by Kristin Cheung, Gateway Theatre’s arts administrator and Ricepaper’s very own managing editor.

Check out her presentation on Building Community Through Social Networks

After her successful presentation, she had this to say:

 

 

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Harold “John Cho” Escapes From Cinematic Barriers http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/harold-john-cho-escapes-from-cinematic-barriers/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/harold-john-cho-escapes-from-cinematic-barriers/#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 23:33:30 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10052 Asian actors in Hollywood are often marginalized—appearing on screen as the nerdy sidekick, the straight lace academic, or the unappealing best friend. When they are casted as leads, they are commonly playing goofy-ball characters (Ken Jeong) or action heroes (Jackie … more »

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Asian actors in Hollywood are often marginalized—appearing on screen as the nerdy sidekick, the straight lace academic, or the unappealing best friend. When they are casted as leads, they are commonly playing goofy-ball characters (Ken Jeong) or action heroes (Jackie Chan) and rarely do we see them in the foreground.

Ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a legitimate Asian male actor appearing on a poster or a billboard, promoting their film? Almost never. Because such a case almost never happens. While the Ryan Goslings and the Joseph Gordon-Levitts out there winning the hearts of North America, Asian actors are left holding the scripts in slight disappointment. It’s clear that even in 2014, there is a glass ceiling for such talented performers.

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Well, all that is changing now… at least for the moment, thanks to John Cho.

South Korean actor, Cho—famous for his works in the cult-stoner flick Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and its subsequent sequels and, of course, the rebooted Star Trek movie—is paving the way for young aspiring Asian actors. As more and more casting directors are leaning toward colour-blind casting, Asian actors may never have to do demeaning accents ever again.

“I would call this revolutionary. It’s certainly a personal revolution for me,” said John Cho. “Asians narratively in shows are insignificant. They’re the cop, or the waitress, or whatever it is. You see them in the background. So to be in this position . . . is a bit of a landmark.”

Cho, who began his career in 1996 as a member of LA’s Asian American Theatre organization East West Players, will be co-staring in a new television series entitled Selfie on ABC. The 42-year-old actor will play the romantic lead, Henry, alongside Karen Gillan from Doctor Who.

What do you think about Cho’s new gig? Will the floodgate of work open up for other Asian actors? Or is Cho a token in a discriminating industry?

Will you watch his new show Selfie this fall?

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Call for Submissions: Speculative Fiction Issue (19.4-Winter 2014) http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/call-for-submissions-ricepapers-speculative-fiction-issue/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/call-for-submissions-ricepapers-speculative-fiction-issue/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 23:13:48 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10037 Deadline extended to August 29, 2014

We are searching for submissions for a “Special Speculative Fiction issue”, to be published circa December 2014.
Derwin Mak (co-editor, The Dragon and the Stars) and JF Garrard (author, The Undead Sorceress) will be … more »

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Deadline extended to August 29, 2014

We are searching for submissions for a “Special Speculative Fiction issue”, to be published circa December 2014.
Derwin Mak (co-editor, The Dragon and the Stars) and JF Garrard (author, The Undead Sorceress) will be guest editors of the Speculative Fiction issue.

We are looking for short stories, non-fiction articles, poems, and manga/comics excerpts by authors with East Asian or Southeast Asian descent. Eighty (80%) percent of the issue’s content should be authored by Canadians. All content should be in English. If content was originally written in another language, send us the English version.
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Short stories: stories can be of any of the speculative fiction genres, i.e., science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternative history. Stories should have an East or Southeast Asian aspect to them, which can include immigrant and diaspora themes. Stories should be previously unpublished and not already sold for publication to another magazine or anthology. We do not intend to buy a story that lacks an Asian aspect, even if it’s written by an author of East/Southeast Asian descent. The only exception we’ll make is if none of the characters are human, but your story better be worthy of an Aurora, Hugo or Nebula nomination if you go that route. No overly political content. Of course, no racist content. Sexual content is usually fine. Maximum word length for short stories is 6,000 words.Regarding novel excerpts: the editors are not adverse to novel excerpts, but be advised that we will give preference to original short stories. We know that you’re proud of your novel and wish to preview it. However, your novel will be published and available soon; the short stories, on the other hand, rely on magazines for their first publication, and we can best serve the speculative fiction community by using this magazine space to showcase new short fiction. Please do not submit a novel excerpt without inquiring with the guest editors. Please do not argue or debate our preference for short stories with us.Non-fiction articles: Also known as creative non-fiction in Ricepaper, these should be related to science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction genres. They can be of various forms, including interviews with authors, an essay on the genre or the state of the art, or an author’s reminiscence on the influences and inspirations on his/her writing. Maximum word length: 6,000 words.

Poems: Poetry should be in the speculative fiction genres. Poems must have an East Asian/Southeast Asian aspect. Maximum length: half a page each.

Manga/comics: Ricepaper occasionally publishes excerpts from manga or comics. Excerpts are 1 to 5 pages long. For this issue, we’ll also consider an original comics story if it’s 1 to 2 pages long. Stories must have an East Asian/Southeast Asian aspect and be of a speculative genre.

Use standard manuscript format, but with emphasized words in italics (not underlined), and leave one space between sentences, e.g., between the period and the start of the next sentence.

Please submit your submission as a Microsoft Word file to hello@jfgarrard.com . In the subject line, please put “Submission: [Title of your Story]”.

Deadline for submissions is  August 15, 2014 AUGUST 29 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.
Payment is $50-$250 for short stories and articles (depending on length), $40-$75 for poems, upon publication. Ricepaper will acquire world first North American English serial rights.
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Indian Summer Festival 2014 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/indian-summer-festival-2014/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/indian-summer-festival-2014/#comments Sun, 06 Jul 2014 21:14:01 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10026 Indian Summer logo

 

The Fourth Annual Indian Summer Festival kicked off with a bang at the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden last Thursday.  Organized by Indian Summer Arts Society (ISAS), a Vancouver-based not-for-profit secular arts organization dedicated to promoting, showcasing … more »

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Indian Summer logo

 

The Fourth Annual Indian Summer Festival kicked off with a bang at the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden last Thursday.  Organized by Indian Summer Arts Society (ISAS), a Vancouver-based not-for-profit secular arts organization dedicated to promoting, showcasing and building public awareness of artists of South Asian origin in the performing, visual, literary and folk arts, the festival began in 2011 with the support from SFU Woodward’s Cultural Unit and Teamwork Arts India.  The festival celebrates arts, ideas and diversity in the Lower Mainland, and features performances and programs that offer insights into South Asian Canadian culture.

Opening Gala- Photo by Aziz Dhamani 2014

Opening Gala- Photo by Aziz Dhamani 2014

There is an array of events covering many areas ranging from Hip Hop Yoga to a cross-media storytelling of the Komagata Maru incident through jazz, poetry and visual arts (July 6 at the Museum of Vancouver) to Dinner by Starlight, prepared by the celebrated Vikram Vij, at various venues across the city.

Chef Vikra Vij- Photo by Tom Delamere 2014

Chef Vikra Vij- Photo by Tom Delamere 2014

The festival runs until July 12, and every day is packed with distinct cultural events that showcase both traditional South Asian culture and contemporary ideas in arts, and explore and celebrate the complex, hybrid South Asian Canadian culture present in British Columbia.

Be sure to check out the amazing festival happening all over Vancouver.  Tickets and more information can be found on the Indian Summer Festival events page.

 

Renowned Indian graphic artist Orijit Sen works on the mural, "From Punjab with Love"

Renowned Indian graphic artist Orijit Sen works on the mural, “From Punjab with Love”

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Fact or Friction: Should writers stay within their cultural know-how when it comes to fiction? http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/fact-or-friction-should-writers-stay-within-their-cultural-know-how-when-it-comes-to-fiction/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/fact-or-friction-should-writers-stay-within-their-cultural-know-how-when-it-comes-to-fiction/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 02:25:14 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10021 Fiction writers face many challenges: plots, settings, and lack of coffee. But one specific writing quandary has been puzzling established and emerging writers alike, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy “brew” button to solve it: what is the … more »

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Fiction writers face many challenges: plots, settings, and lack of coffee. But one specific writing quandary has been puzzling established and emerging writers alike, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy “brew” button to solve it: what is the range of liberties writers have when they dare to construct characters outside of their cultural understanding?

For example: is it kosher for a Caucasian writer to write about an Asian war veteran? Some would say, “Absolutely! It’s just a story,” while others would say, “Absolutely not! It’s not their story to tell.”

 

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In a recent New York Times article, Roxanne Robinson, author of Sparta—a novel set in war-torn Iraq, a place she fictionalizes for her tale—reminds us that the line between fact and fiction, even in creative writing, is not always clear and should be approached with caution, empathy, and research.

Are you a writer? What are your thoughts on this subject?

Read Robinson’s New York Times article HERE.

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Interview with Tom Carter http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/06/interview-with-tom-carter/ http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/06/interview-with-tom-carter/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 23:45:46 +0000 http://ricepapermagazine.ca/?p=10015 Did you like this issue’s cover?  We did!

Ricepaper had a chance to talk to Tom Carter, the photojournalist who shared with us one of the photos from his book, CHINA: Portrait of a People

 

1. We have received more »

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Did you like this issue’s cover?  We did!

Ricepaper had a chance to talk to Tom Carter, the photojournalist who shared with us one of the photos from his book, CHINA: Portrait of a People

 

1. We have received very positive feedback on your photo on the cover of our magazine (19.1).  Can you tell us about where you were?  Was the moment set up, or spontaneous?  What was happening in the background?

 

This photograph was taken in northern China’s Liaoning province, on a beach in coastal Dalian, where I was wandering during my travels. Dalian is considered one of China’s most romantic cities, and an ubiquitous sight on its shores are pre-wedding photo sessions, with brides-to-be posing in fake gowns (held together with clips) to emulate Western tradition. But I also spotted a number of elderly people diving into the sea, which is quite uncommon as many Mainlanders never learn to swim (summer on a beach here is a big rainbow of inner tubes). Even more uncommon anywhere in China are public displays of affection, especially among the older generation who were married into an affectionless era. So capturing this candid moment of loyalty, longevity and love was rather special, and that’s why I chose to include it in my photography book CHINA: Portrait of a People, which is where you all first spotted it.

 

2. What is the most inspirational place you have visited as an artist? Why?

 

I generally can’t answer this type of question; as a traveler, inspiration is dynamic and constantly being renewed by new geography and new circumstances. The first time I ever started seriously writing was whilst backpacking down the length of Mexico. I holed up in Zihuatanejo for two months and banged out my memoirs (which I doubt will ever be read let alone published). The sheer excitement of being in China reinvigorated my interest in photography, and I carried a camera at my side every moment for 4 years (2 just living and 2 backpacking). I also traveled across India for a year, where I took some of my best photographs (which I credit to India rather than my own skills); some of those photos appear in my wife Hong Mei’s (who accompanied me) new Chinese-language book about our adventures together, The Farther I Walk, The Closer I Get To Me (走得越远,离自己越近).

 

3. As a photographer, you must have a vast archive to select from.  What elements do you look for when you select photos for showcasing in a collection?

 

I do, but oddly enough I don’t look through my photos anymore. I mean, I had to for CHINA: Portrait of a People, which was a month-long process with my publisher just to sift through them all and choose the best of the best. But I’ve never gone through them after that. Same for India. Nor have I ever showcased my work in a gallery, but that’s mostly just because I can’t afford frames, heh. The sad fact is that my photography career never really took off; just when I was getting good at it, the bottom dropped out of the photojournalism industry, DSLRs and HDR and Instahipstagramatic became all the rage, and the net oversaturated with auto-perfect pictures. Photography today is no longer special, nor even really “real,” so it’s not something I’m doing anymore. Maybe in, like, 50 years someone will appreciate my body of work, and the lengths I went through to get it.

 

4. You have recently edited a collection of expatriate essays set in China, Unsavory Elements.  How is the process of capturing an image through the lens different from telling a story with words for you?

This is a good question; in all the interviews I’ve given nobody has ever compared my photography snapshots with the cultural snapshots I compiled for my anthology. And that’s what I was trying to do: just as CHINA: Portrait tells a visual story of China’s diversity and captures every aspect of daily life here, Unsavory Elements is a collection of vignettes that depict nearly every imaginable experience a foreign expatriate living or traveling in China might have. And as the editor I was very conscious about making sure my writers described the smallest details, properly framed their circumstances just as a photographer does, and then cropped them down to a tight portrait like in post-production. I really enjoyed being an editor and am keen on assembling future anthologies about China. I just hope I can find a benefactor to back my future projects, because I’ve gone into the poorhouse from all these DIY endeavors.

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An inveterate vagrant who flirts with pictures and words, Tom Carter spent 2 straight years backpacking a groundbreaking 35,000 miles across all 33 Chinese provinces, and was named “one of China’s foremost explorers” by The World of Chinese magazine. His first book CHINA: Portrait of a People has been hailed as the most comprehensive book of photography on modern China ever published by a single author. He is also the editor of Unsavory Elements, an anthology about foreign expats in China. Tom has called China home since 2004.

 

Tom Carter in Tiber (Photo credit Eleco Florijn)

Tom Carter in Tiber (Photo credit Eleco Florijn)

 

Links:

 

CHINA: Portrait of a People on Amazon Canada

http://www.amazon.ca/CHINA-Portrait-People-Tom-Carter/dp/9889979942/

 

Unsavory Elements on Amazon Canada

http://www.amazon.ca/Unsavory-Elements-Stories-Foreigners-Loose/dp/9881616409/

 

The Farther I Walk, The Closer I Get To Me (走得越远,离自己越近) on Amazon China

http://www.amazon.cn/dp/B00JUELG5U

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