Town Hall Featuring Selections from “Down a Dark Stairwell” on April 8, 2021 at 6 pm

Join a Town Hall on Thursday, April 8, 2021 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm featuring selections from the documentary film Down a Dark Stairwell just days before the national April 12th PBS premiere on Independent Lens.

The roundtable conversation among national community leaders will explore the themes of the film and the broader cultural and historical context of today’s tragic headlines. The roundtable will be moderated by celebrated author Jeff Chang and will feature panelists Cynthia Choi (Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action), Robeson Taj Frazier (Associate Professor of Communication, USC Annenberg), Hua Hsu (Staff Writer, The New Yorker and Associate Professor of English, Vassar College), Bo Thao-Urabe (Executive Director, Coalition of Asian American Leaders), and Down a Dark Stairwell filmmaker Ursula Liang.

The film follows the events that occurred after Peter Liang, a Chinese American police officer, shot and killed an innocent, unarmed black man named Akai Gurley in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project in 2014. It examines the aftermath of the shooting, and how it thrust two marginalized communities into the uneven criminal justice system together. AABANY Issues Committee Chair Chris Kwok appears in the film.

For more information about the Town Hall and to register for this event, click here.

Spike Lee Interviews AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok

On March 3rd, 2021, AABANY Board Director, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair, and Issues Committee Chair Chris Kwok was invited to visit Spike Lee at his production site in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Known for his movie Do The Right Thing (1989), Director Spike Lee is in the process of filming an eight hour documentary to capture New York’s resiliency from 9/11 to Covid-19. For the upcoming documentary, Spike Lee interviewed over 200 people and wanted to interview Chris to speak about the Asian American community in New York.

For Chris, Spike Lee has been a part of his life since high school. Do The Right Thing was Spike Lee’s magnum opus—the movie illustrated race relations between Italians, Blacks, and Asians in New York. In one iconic scene, a riot breaks out and as the Blacks move on to destroy the Korean bakery after burning down the Italian pizzeria, the owner of the bakery tells them, “You, me, same.” The Koreans and Blacks are on the same side and as an assertive African American filmmaker about racial justice, Spike Lee understood that at the time. Through his many projects, Spike Lee has recognized the Asian American community and sees Asian Americans as part of the fabric of New York. That stood out to Chris and his friends in high school. 

Spike Lee is iconic but also very personal. “He is including us and we should know more about African Americans and their culture. They have always been inclusive to us, and we should know their path in history,” said Chris. “BLM and fighting anti-Asian violence is the same fight. You don’t have to choose one over the other because it’s the manifestation of structural racism and the effort to dismantle it.” Chris’ comments reflect the message of Do The Right Thing. Asian Americans and African Americans need to be united and Spike Lee highlights that by writing “BLM + AABANY Brothers and Sista’s” in an autographed Do The Right Thing sign he presented to Chris at the interview (see image above).

Spike Lee’s new documentary “NYC Epicenters 9/11→ 2021½” is scheduled to be released later this year on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

Join AABANY for the 2019 Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF)

AABANY will be co-sponsoring three film screenings with Asian CineVision for the 2019 Asian American International Film Festival this summer. These three film screenings include:

Jeff Adachi, the Sam Francisco Public Defender and filmmaker who passed earlier this year has been a pioneer in the justice system and API cinema. To celebrate his legacy, two of his documentaries will be shown, along with a tribute by Corey Tong and John Woo before the screening.

Seadrift follows the story of what begins as a dispute over fishing territory into an eruption of violence and hostility against Vietnamese refugees along the gulf coast. Seadrift examines a shooting of a white crab fisherman by a Vietnamese refugee, and its aftermath, which continues to reverberate today.

AABANY’s reenactments site also has information on Vietnamese Fishermen v. Ku Klux Klan, which is the trial that ensued from these conflicts in Seadrift, TX.

Shorts: Identities is a series of eight documentary shorts which all tackle the question: “What does it mean to be Asian, to be a part of the Asian Diaspora?” These shorts confirm that there is no singular answer to this question, and cover topics as wide-ranging as Cambodian doughnut shops (Doughnuts for Dollars) to the young Harvard student who started the non-profit, PERIOD org (Period Girl).


The screening for A Tribute to Jeff Adachi will be held at the Museum of Chinese in America, while the Shorts: Identities and Seadrift screenings will be held at Regal Essex, Theater B.

Please click the links to register and learn more about the films. AABANY members will receive a discount code once they register for the event on the AABANY website. 

For more information on the AAIFF, click here

AABANY Hosts Screening of the Documentary “Blowin’ Up”

On Thursday, April 11, AABANY hosted a screening of “Blowin’ Up,” a feature documentary that explores the complex realities of sex work in New York City and the compassionate approach of a human trafficking court in Queens County. The film features AABANY member Honorable Toko Serita, Queens Supreme Court, as well as other heroines of the Human Trafficking Intervention Court, that work with victims of sexual exploitation who face prostitution-related charges.

After the screening, Beatrice Leong, AABANY Government Service and Public Interest Committee Co-Chair, led a panel discussion featuring speakers from the NYPD/FBI Joint Human Trafficking Task Force and a Queens Assistant District Attorney who prosecutes human traffickers. The panelists talked about how they worked together to prosecute the traffickers and how one can identify and help a suspected trafficking victim. The panel gave important insight into how gangs and traffickers target their victims, and the audience learned that many victims are new immigrants, local high school students or children in the foster care system. “Drugs can only be used once, but a person can be used over and over.”

If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking,  you can email New York Police Department, at ved@nypd.org or visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/acs/youth/identify.page to report them.

We thank Beatrice Leong and Emily Arakawa for providing the photos and write-up for this blog post.

SUNDANCE SELECTS presents KAMPAI! FOR THE LOVE OF SAKE IN THEATERS & ON DEMAND AUGUST 19TH

Opening in New York at the IFC CENTER

Discover the art of sake. An age-old staple of Japanese culture and cuisine, the fermented rice wine has recently been winning fans all over the world. Kampai! For the Love of Sake journeys from rice paddies in Japan to breweries around the globe as it chronicles three passionate exponents of the increasingly popular beverage: a British ex-pat who has become Japan’s first foreign master brewer, an American journalist known as the “Sake Evangelist,” and a fifth-generation Japanese brewer determined to shake up the industry. Together, their stories form a fascinating snapshot of how ancient traditions are adapting to the demands of a growing global market.  

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