Chicago Asian American Film Festival, program two

A program of seven films about resistance to oppression. Frank Abe's engrossing Conscience and the Constitution documents the protests that erupted at Japanese internment camps when the U.S. military began drafting young Japanese-Americans to fight in World War II. Abe captures the era in all its paranoia and complexity, heightening the drama by giving equal time to all sides in the controversy. In contrast, filmmakers Irum Shiekh, Casey Peek, Vina Ha, and Francisco Nieto are content to preach to the choir in On Strike!, about the May 1999 hunger strikes and demonstrations that ensued when the University of California at Berkeley tried to eliminate its ethnic studies program. The footage of students clashing with police is exciting, but the filmmakers never examine the issue itself with any degree of thought. On the same program, which runs about two and a half hours, films by Hidenori Yokoyama, David Huang, David Greenspan, Ralph Briones, and Grace Shimizu.

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