Film: Where Are You Taking Me?
Playing: Los Angeles Film Festival, Thursday, June 24th, 5:15pm (1000 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles 90015)
Director Kimi Takesue knows what it’s like to be an outsider. Raised by her Asian American father and Caucasian mother, Takesue split her childhood between the disparate cultural worlds of Hawai’i and Massachusetts. Other hapas can probably relate to the issues of identity and cultural belonging that being bi-racial entails, but Takesue chose to embrace these things in her work — what she calls “that meeting point where people from very different worlds come together and struggle for some form of communication.” When commissioned by the Rotterdam International Film Festival to make a film on Africa, Takesue, who had never before set foot in the country, jumped right in.
I saw her movie at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and it was unlike anything else there. For one thing, this movie employs neither narration nor translation; the camera simply wanders through Uganda, capturing daily life. The scenes are all somewhat familiar, but never completely. There’s the wedding ceremony where soap bubbles float towards the alter; elsewhere, children sit in a dark room watching an old Bruce Lee flick, while an attendant does a live voice-over.
“I intentionally wanted to construct the piece as an outsider,” Takesue explained, “so you’re constructing meaning through body language, through gesture.” While filming, her goal was to capture the little moments — or rather, to let them unfold in front of the camera. This is important, she says. “We’re inundated with images of Uganda that only relate to desperation and victimization. We only see images that relate to war and poverty and AIDs.” Her movie reminds us that it’s the little moments that show life’s beauty and vitality.