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Tizuka Yamasaki’s Gaijin 2: Japanesity, Japanese Sovereignty and the “Unofficial” Hierarchy Amongst Asian Americans

Fri, May 25, 7:30 to 9:00pm, TBA

Abstract

“Your film has been accepted because you are Japanese Brazilian. Unfortunately, your film is not good enough because it is not truly Japanese.” This is how I interpreted a short review that the Asian Pacific Alumni of UCLA (APA) wrote about Gaijin 2: Ama-me Como Sou (2005) directed by the Japanese Brazilian filmmaker Tizuka Yamasaki. Even though the APA had only chosen a few films shown at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival to review, it deemed Gaijin 2 a weak representative of Asian cinema. In fact, Gaijin 2 had probably been accepted in the festival because it was a sequel to Gaijin 1: Roads to Freedom (1980), a praised film about the first Japanese immigrants to Brazil, and second, because the event was organized by The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), an all-inclusive association that supports Asian films made in the US and elsewhere. However, I propose that there is a bigger issue that the dismissal of Gaijin 2 helps bring to light. I ask: Did the APA see the film as an easy target because of the vulnerability of its condition as a Japanese depiction in peripheral Brazil? Was Gaijin 2 disregarded as an indirect attack to Japanese sovereignty? In my paper, I try to show that, by disregarding Gaijin 2, the APA brings forth the fragile condition of the veneer of equality among Asian Americans.

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