Anita Wen-Shin Chang is an independent filmmaker. She was born to parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan in the 1960’s, fleeing a dictatorship. She grew up in Akron, Ohio and Massachusetts. Chang received her BA in American Studies and English at Tufts University, and MFA in Cinema at San Francisco State University. She has worked as a community activist, an urban youth counselor, civil rights investigator, and education director for a non-profit San Francisco-based media literacy organization.
Anita will screen two of her most recent films, Tongues of Heaven and 62 Years and 6500 Miles Between. In the later film, Chang explores the discovery of her own grandmother’s political sensibility just prior to her entering a full-care facility through the intimate details remembered by those closely associated with her, her award-winning autobiographical essay which was published in 1994 by the Taipei Women’s Rights Organization, and the director’s own memories. As the film progresses, we hear history being told from various perspectives. Eventually, twists and turns develop along the way – the expectation that the camera is a reliable witness, or that the translation is accurate, the many facts that Ama left out of her biography, or that the biography was even written by Ama.
Tongues of Heaven (60 minutes, Taiwan/US, 2013) is set in Taiwan and Hawai’i. It focuses on the questions, desires and challenges of young indigenous peoples to learn the languages of their forebears-languages that are endangered or facing extinction. Using digital video as the primary medium of expression, four young indigenous women from divergent backgrounds collaborate and exchange ideas to consider the impact of language on identity and culture. With 96% of the world’s population speaking only 4% of the world’s languages, what does it mean to speak your mother tongue in this age of language homogenization? To put it another way, what do you lose when you lose your native language? These are just some of the questions that these women, with camera in hand, ask themselves, their families and peers.