Hapaness at SFIAAFF 2009

March 8, 2009

Why? Why now? I'm not entirely sure. Kip himself started making short films
about being multiracially Asian almost 20 years ago now. His book
Part Asian, 100% Hapa,
a compilation of photos of hapa faces and notes about identity, came
out three years ago; and I always felt like the book was a sort of
valedictory to Kip's (and my) era of hapaness. Hapa Issues Forum,
a national organization dedicated to API multiracials specifically,
lived less than 20 years -- just about the same stretch as Kip's
filmmaking career -- and died from terminal irrelevance a couple of years
ago. Kip himself went off in the direction of documenting tattoos.

But what happened may simply be a generational thing. The folks who
started HIF at the end of the '80s were firmly Generation X (like
me) and we're all now getting into our forties, marrying, having kids,
kicking our careers into high gear. We don't have time for "issues."
Our limited time needs to go towards much more pragmatic organizing, or
towards more of a traditional politic. Some of my peers are now local
elected officials. Many of my peers are executives at large nonprofits
with a much more consolidated, diverse, and broad power base ... and
with an actual agenda.

That doesn't mean, however, that the next generation, now peaking its
twenties and trailing off into its passionate teens, doesn't have Hapa
Issues. They certainly don't have the same Hapa Issues we had,
especially not here in Hapafornia. But with what could be argued is a
hapa president in office -- or at least a president with a hapa sister
-- making sense of, and mainstreaming, a hapa identity is important
again ... or for the first time.

So here's a call out to all hapas and hapa-lovers: check out the SFIAAFF hapa programming (listed below). And please do give the wrong info to hapa fetishists: by oG, if anyone shows up saying all hapas are hot, I will administer the beat-down personally.

Also, tomorrow I'll be reviewing two hapa feature films, so stay tuned!

ETA: For balance, here's an essay by Dr. Wei Ming Dariotis reflecting on the Asian American use of the appropriated Hawai'ian word "hapa," and why that might be a bad thing.

A listing of hapa-themed, or touching-on-hapa-themes, films at SFIAAFF this year. (Click on links for whens and wheres.)



Panel - Multiracial/Multimedia
Saturday, March 14, 1:00 pm
Sakura Room (in Hotel Kabuki)

Saturday, March 14, 12:00 to 5:00 pm
Festival Forum on Japantown Peace Plaza
Get a preview of hapas.us and make profiles for yourself, upload pictures, and record videos of you and your families!

Saturday, March 14, 5:00 to 7:00 pm
O Izakaya Lounge at the Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post St., San Francisco
Enjoy light refreshments and see the launch of hapas.us website.




It seems weird that SFIAAFF is doing a big "hapa" push this year where there is such a vocal backlash against the use of that word by non-Hawaiians. Not very sensitive of SFIAAFF. I hope the festival is not marred by protests.