Many of us have heard those stories about New Mexico. No, not the ones about the $1 tacos, cheap beer, and authentic Horchata. I’m talking about the more cringe-worthy stories of young women, and even men, being abducted and taken captive and imprisoned by human trafficking.
To delve more into the darkness of human trafficking comes the film, Eden, starring 28-year-old Asian American actress Jaime Chung.
Eden was one of the eight films selected from 1,112 submissions to premier at the SXSW 2012 Film Festival. The Festival will take place March 9- 17th in Austin Texas.
Eden tells the story of a Korean American teenager, Hyun Jae, who ventured into a bar in New Mexico where a handsome man posing as a firefighter offered her a ride home. The story follows Jae’s abduction and imprisonment as a sex slave, and is inspired by the complex and harrowing true story of human trafficking survivor Chong Kim.
Chung, who plays Jae in the film, rose in stardom following her role on MTV’s The Real World: San Diego. Since then, Chung has starred in bigger films such as Sorority Row, The Hangover Part II, and Sucker Punch.
Got the mid-winter doldrums? Nourish yourself! There are so many ways to feed the soul this January, from fine art to fine food.
Los Angeles Art Show
When: January 19-23, 2011
Where: Los Angeles Convention Center
The 16th Annual Los Angeles Art Show returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center starting today. Beyond the usual fine art from around the world and from private collections, check out a special Asian Contemporary exhibition presented by 53 Art Museum from Guangzhou, China, curated and sponsored by the prominent Asian art magazines Art Gallery Magazine and Gallery Sights. The Art Show will also include a significant grouping of Chinese galleries who have never shown works outside of China.
Beyond fine art, there’s also book signings, street art, lectures and film screenings including The Rising Tide, a documentary shot in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen in the summer of 2006, exploring China’s march toward the future through the works of some their most talented photographers and video artists. There will even be guided tours in Korean and Chinese.
The Opening Night Premiere Party, which will be hosted by Kat von D (LA Ink), will help The Art of Elysium to expand its program to bring arts to critically ill hospitalized children, and increase substantially the number of school children who visit the Getty through the Getty Museum’s Education Department program for Title-One School visits.
Letters From My Mother
When: Thursday, January 20, 7:30pm
Where: Tateuchi Democracy Forum in the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, 111 N. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
How: Admission is free, but please RSVP by calling 213-625-7000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
East West Players (EWP), in collaboration with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) and Japanese American National Museum (JANM), presents a staged reading of Letters From My Mother by Udaya Kanthi Salgadu and directed by Shaheen Vaaz. The reading will be performed by Asian American notables including Tamlyn Tomita, James Kyson Lee, Camille Mana, and more.
Letters addresses the horror of slavery and human trafficking still occurring in this day and age. It follows Sripa, a young Sri Lankan high school graduate who endured 26 months of forced labor in a household in the United States. Sripa draws strength only from her mother’s letters, until inquiries from a neighbor eventually lead to her rescue. Sripa must then find the courage within her to become an advocate for the abolition of human trafficking.
Developed in the East West Players David Henry Hwang Writers Institute with the support of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, Letters From My Mother is based on the playwright’s true life experience. This reading is presented as part of a month-long campaign to raise the awareness of human trafficking and modern day slavery. To learn more on human trafficking, visit www.castla.org.
A panel discussion and a wine and cheese reception follows the reading.
When: Opens January 21, 2011
Where: In theaters
Shai (played by Indian American Monica Dogra) is a modern Indian American woman, on sabbatical from her prestigious job in finance, to indulge her photography hobby in Mumbai. She has a brief dalliance with Mumbai native Arun (Aamir Khan), a gifted but solitary painter, and strikes up an unusual friendship with Munna (Prateik), a handsome laundry boy (dhobi) with ambitions of being a Bollywood actor. As Shai takes an interest in Munna’s life and work in the dhobi ghat (the area in Mumbai where laundry is done), their friendship deepens despite significant class differences, and Arun becomes obsessed with recordings left by a beautiful former tenant of his apartment.
Kiran Rao’s directorial debut, set in the wild and chaotic metropolis of Mumbai, follows four people, separated by class and language, drawn together in compelling relationships. The films stars and was produced by Aamir Khan, one of India’s most popular actors.
Korean Community Day at Fowler Museum
When: Saturday, January 22, 2011, 1-4 pm
Where: Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, CA
How: Admission is free
UCLA’s Fowler Museum is opening up its doors to celebrate Korean arts and culture. Bring appa and unni to this family-oriented day with art workshops and tours of their “Life in Ceramics: Five Contemporary Korean Artists ” exhibit. After the afternoon’s festivities are over, take a stroll around UCLA’s beautiful campus. Fun for the whole family!
dineLA Restaurant Week
When: January 23-28, January 30-February 4, 2011
Where: Restaurants throughout Los Angeles
Now’s your chance to try some of the best restaurants L.A. has to offer, all at special prix-fixe prices. From Hollywood’s recently opened W Hollywood complete with a dinner at Delphine, to a coastal getaway at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows and dinner at Fig Santa Monica, dineLA Restaurant Week offers visitors the perfect excuse to visit Los Angeles and dine at a great value.
Check out participating restaurants here.
ALOUD: A conversation with Andrew Lam and Maxine Hong Kingston
When: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 7 pm
Where: Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, Los Angeles, CA
Don’t miss the meeting of two brilliant minds in modern Asian American literature in casual conversation. Andrew Lam, the editor and co-founder of New America Media, and author of the award-winning Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, and his latest work, East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres, talks Asian American literature with Chinese American author Maxine Hong Kingston, the award-winning author of The Woman Warrior.
The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Kingston grew up active in antiwar activities in Berkeley, but left the mainland for Hawaii in the late ’60’s, where she wrote The Woman Warrior, and China Men, which earned the National Book Award. Her most recent books include a collection of essays, Hawai‘i One Summer, and her latest novel, The Fifth Book of Peace. Kingston was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 1997 by President Clinton. She is currently Senior Lecturer Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley.
Fashion is one of the sharpest, most immediate ways an individual can express him or herself to other people.
Whether it’s the length of one’s skirt or the fabric of one’s jeans, the color of one’s top or the pattern of one’s bag, what you wear speaks monumentally about who you are or what you want to come across as.
But we often forget that there are millions out there who don’t even have the freedom to utilize this form of expression. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Do these numbers astound you? Do they make you shudder knowing how quickly and easily your freedom can be taken away from you in an instant?
The reminder was made clear in a stylish way on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at the second annual Freedom and Fashion show held at Newsong Church in Irvine, Calif. More than 1,300 people were in attendance for the fashion show and trade booths.
Each of the designers and merchandises on display at the event were specially selected not only for their beauty but also for their small and large-scale function to do good for humanity.
The show itself was educational and entertaining with Style host and Extra correspondent Jeannie Mai emcee-ing for the night. Mai talks about her own brush with human trafficking, recounting her discovery of her own cousin selling her body in Vietnam. Mai conversed with other women working in the brothels and discovered that, “after talking with them about their hair and their clothes … I actually realized that I had two major things in common with every single woman and child I spoke with … They all have a dream to have a future … and they all wanted to be loved. Even if it comes from a wallet, they needed to be loved.”
And this love was clearly seen on stage, from stellar performances by the soulful Esna Yoon and Dr. E, a professor from Ohio and survivor of sex-trafficking to the splashy designer intro videos to the jubilant models gliding down the v-shaped catwalk.
Designs by Anita Arze, Naem Denim Co., and krochet kids matched nicely with wares from LiNK, TOMS and Kristinit and more. It was hard to imagine that all the people who put the show together were paid not a single cent for their labor and time because the quality of the show was just so good. I can never watch a fancy couture show the same way again.
Freedom and Fashion’s life and soul, founder Bonnie Kim, had no previous with fashion or sex trafficking. She was just a concerned individual who, through prayer, found her calling in raising awareness to this near-invisible issue. Kim explains,
“I know sex sells here, but it creates a lot of pain … Sex has been totally misrepresented in today’s society. Because of it I feel like it perpetuates industries like porn and industries like human trafficking. Unless we address these issues, this problem is just going to continue and get worse—women ending up being sex slaves or them feeling the need to, in order to survive, resort to prostitution or being in the trade. And that’s more overseas than here, but many times girls here for the love of someone else they would just easily give themselves away … and it’s not supposed to be like that.”
For the future, Freedom and Fashion has been hosting smaller fashion previews and hopes to acquire a Los Angeles office space, create a division in New York City and in five years, develop an after-school program that teaches young girls the dangers of sex trafficking and how to sew. To find out how you can help, click here.
All photos courtesy of Steven Lam.