Studio Revolt is an independent artist-run media lab that produces films, videos, installations and performance projects in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The media lab serves as a collaborative space for performance artist Anida Yoeu Ali and filmmaker Masahiro Sugano. Through his films, Sugano reconsiders cultural and political norms that have constricted our imagination and dulled our senses. Ali performs unapologetic poems and declarations of the self beyond fixed identities and borders. Together their works open up possibilities for people to exist outside of conventional narratives. Studio Revolt takes it a step further by urging viewers to become participants and stake their claim in this world.
Exiles and ex-pats unite as a community to present images of an Americana they left behind. One half live outside the US by choice while the other half has been forcibly returned. All are Americans. Each raised with the memories, mannerisms, and a distinct cultural identity of growing up Asian in America. This piece is both a short film and a PSA to remind the public of untold stories about Asian Americans ordered into exile. These are the narratives of Cambodian Americans impacted by US deportation policies. (For more info on deportation visit SpokenKosal.com)
Produced and Co-Directed by Anida Yoeu ALI
Co-Directed, Filmed and Edited by Masahiro SUGANO
Music Produced by Phanna NAM a.k.a. ‘Peanut’ of eKHlectic Records
Lyrics and Song by Sokha CHHIM a.k.a. ‘Dollah’
Coordinator: Thea SOM
Production Assistant: Phyrak KHUN
Cast (in order of appearance): Anida Yoeu ALI, Thea SOM, Kosal KHIEV, Phyrak KHUN, Sokha CHHIM, Ryan TONG, Vinh DAO and Vanna SANN
Director’s Statement (11/01/2012):
My Asian Americana was submitted to The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ “What’s Your Story?” video challenge. The challenge requested personal stories with impact, specifically stories of community service. Our short film tells the untold stories of Cambodian American deportees, an issue we feel challenges the ‘challenge’ itself. We made this film as a community of people concerned with justice and invisibility because the issue of deportation is an Asian American issue.
As we read the submission challenge and viewed the launch video, we wondered what stories this White House committee will select to show the public? What issues are considered worthy of public discussion within an Asian American framework? Who gets to be celebrated in Asian America? Can we accept that our community includes an “unwanted” group of forgotten voices—— the refugees, addicts, ex-convicts, gang members? People who are also fathers, brothers, sons, daughters and mothers. Narratives that are not so pretty, not so clean or simple to tell.
Deportations are an easy solution to deal with the “unwanted”. Deportations operate as additional punishment for people who have already served their time, often mistakes made in their youth. Deportations create more traumas within an already scarred refugee community by severing relationships and breaking up families.
Current immigration laws are the most anti-immigrant in all of U.S. history. Although U.S. laws and policies may appear “effective” for the administration in power, history has proven that the same laws and policies were often created out of fear and discrimination (i.e Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Angel Island detention center, Anti-Miscegenation laws, Japanese Internment Camps). Is deportation going to be the policy that the U.S. will have to apologize for 40 years from now?
We know it is a risk to take a stance especially against our own government’s policies. As Asian Americans, it is our obligation to never forget our histories nor remain silent in the face of adversity. As Americans we grew up believing justice is for all.
Return To Sender is a video letter sent from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Washington, D.C. The video is a collection of testimonies by Khmer Exiled Americans extradited to Cambodia under harsh US deportation policies. The video continues our interest in giving voice to abandoned and forgotten stories.
Filmed in Phnom Penh, this video letter would have been delivered at the “Champions of Change” event held at the White House on April 5, 2012. The event was the prize at the end of the What’s Your Story Video Challenge Contest organized by the White House Initiative on AAPI. However, the filmmakers and collaborators were excluded from the final winners’ list despite having garnered the most votes from online viewers. The exclusion reflects the Obama Administration’s avoidance of the issue
We debuted this film at our Champions of Change, too event held on April 2, 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Directed by: Anida Yoeu Ali
Produced by: Studio Revolt
Filmed by: Adele Pham
Edited by: Masahiro Sugano & Adele Pham
Featured Khmer Exiled Americans: Sokha Chhim, Chally Dang, Sophea Heng, Hat Hor, Mout Iv, Kosal Khiev, Sopheap Kim, Mel Kosal, Chanthan Mo, Sam Proeun, Veasna “China” Sany, Sakhorn Sean, Mao “Dicer” So, Samnang Sun, Chandara Tep, and Vath “Looney” Tho
Special Thanks to: Diana Montaño, Sotheavy Nou, Ryan Tong, and OneLove Movement