(man chanting) JOUA LEE GRANDE: I've worked in mainstream media.
What I hear is that these stories aren't relatable or they're too niche.
Oftentimes it's just because these stories are Asian-American stories.
TINA MCDUFFIE: Family, history, identity.
I'm the fourth generation of my family in Hawaii, and my mom's side is Chinese and my dad's side is Filipino.
I'm California born and raised, half Korean and half white American.
Both my parents emigrated from the Philippines.
NIEVES: My dad is Afro Puerto Rican, and then my mom is Native Hawaiian, Polynesian Filipino.
GRANDE: These are also American stories.
These are also human stories, and they're all relatable in my eyes.
McDUFFIE: Two filmmakers share personal stories of resilience and rebuilding.
Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond: Volume One, on Local, U.S.A. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ MAN (on radio): Ready to attack.
(beeps) (helicopter rotorblades whirring) MAN (on radio): I'm in position.
(static) ♪ ♪ (radio static) (explosions rumble) QUYEN (voiceover): When I think of you, I think of someone who has endured so much loss.
Me, how do we mourn places that only exist in our memories?
♪ ♪ (static) (Vietnamese music playing) QUYEN (in Vietnamese): (Mom replies, Quyen exclaims) MOM (in Vietnamese): QUYEN: ♪ ♪ (exhales) Okay.
(hinge squeaks, indistinct talking) QUYEN (in Vietnamese): (door chiming) QUYEN: This wasn't the first time you had to rebuild.
You, like many others, arrived in the United States in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
ANGIE (in Vietnamese): (bell chiming) - Uh huh.
(in Vietnamese): ANGIE: LE: ANGIE: Yeah.
- (chuckles) LE: QUYEN (in Vietnamese): ANGIE: Yeah.
ANGIE: LE: ♪ ♪ ANGIE: ♪ ♪ LE: ANGIE: Yeah.
LE: ♪ ♪ (airplane roars in distance) ANGIE: Cathy's Nails.
QUYEN: ANGIE: (distorted rumbling) (whirring) (loud radio static crackles, liquid drips) QUYEN: I've always felt guilty about your nail salon.
It was your sacrifice in my name, literally.
♪ ♪ (in Vietnamese): QUYEN: - Mm.
(static) ANGIE: KIDS: ♪ Happy birthday, dear Cathy ♪ ♪ ♪ QUYEN: - ANGIE: Quyen.
ANGIE: QUYEN: ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (tools whirring) (laughter) (clattering) DAD (in Vietnamese): QUYEN: Memories are not the residue of loss.
This generational memory, it's a living practice that we're building.
(bell chiming) ♪ ♪ ANGIE: QUYEN: There is a narrative of resilience with refugees and immigrants.
They're the bearers of all this historical trauma, and they somehow magically get through it.
And so I wanted to honor the resilience, but not idealize my mom's struggle.
I'm very lucky that my father had this fascination with movies when I was younger.
I had been trying for years to articulate what the salon meant to me and to share that with my mom.
DAD: Happy birthday.
QUYEN: There's sort of a language barrier between my parents I have somewhat bridged in my adulthood.
I learned Vietnamese more as an adult.
And now as an older person, I can ask my parents questions that I didn't maybe have the courage to ask or didn't think to ask when I was younger.
But there was always, like, this gap between my parents and I.
Through making this film, it really brought to my heart the importance of generational memory.
My grandparents, both of them died during the war while both my parents were still children.
I don't know why I always imagined my mother sort of not having maternal figures, but she did, you know.
I just thought of her as a grown-up.
But now that I'm 30, I think back, and she was 19 when she came here, and I thought, "Oh, wow, what a baby."
(laughs) I wonder who helped her in her life.
LE: ANGIE: Yeah.
QUYEN: I had known of Auntie Le my whole life, and I knew that she was important to my mom, but it was actually only through making this film that I really understood how important she was to my mom.
And I think a lot of us live with not knowing so much about our family history.
(distorted static) Unlike maybe other groups of Asian Americans, Vietnamese Americans are overly represented.
Our narrative was the driving force of the 1980s.
It even, you know, became a joke that if you want to make a prestigious film, maybe you'll make a film about the Vietnam War.
MAN (on radio): I'm in position.
We're always kind of talking back at something or trying to answer something, and I was trying really hard to really pay attention to what my mom was trying to tell me.
The kind of small act of building memory within our family was important.
It allowed me to, with my mom, recover some of our family history.
I always say that my mom is actually a really difficult documentary subject, because my mom doesn't really articulate verbally what she thinks or feels.
But she did at one point, very early on, say that this is the best film I ever made.
(laughs) Before I finished it.
So she knows.
(chuckles) (birds twittering, cars passing) FRANCES: Can you see us?
Yeah, you can see us?
FRANCES (chuckling): Dad.
Hi, how are you?
Are you sleepy?
(indistinct sound comes through phone) FRANCES: Yeah?
It's so good to see you, Dad.
NURSE (on phone): Can you see them, Eduardo?
He said he can see you.
I wanted to ask, um, how has my dad been doing?
NURSE (on phone): They said that ever since he returned from the hospital, he's been like that.
Yeah, if you wanted him to get evaluated, maybe we can call the doctor and have him checked out, yeah.
FRANCES: Yeah, can we, please?
Yeah, I just want to make sure that, you know, this isn't... (voice breaking): This is not my dad.
Like, this is not how he normally is.
He, he usually can at least talk.
Um, the fact that he can't even respond or say anything just doesn't seem...
It's not him.
♪ ♪ (film roll whirring, people talking in background) FRANCES: Growing up, my dad always had a video camera.
(in video): Thanks!
FRANCES: He was constantly capturing memories of our family.
Always behind the camera.
I always thought that if my dad were given the same opportunities he gave me, he would have been an artist.
- Merry Christmas.
FRANCES: Maybe a filmmaker.
He was always quietly artistic and sensitive, but equally a silly jokester who loved to make people laugh.
I loved hearing my dad laugh.
I miss my dad.
♪ ♪ (keys clacking) (birds twittering) So it's Monday, December 14.
Yeah, I just got a call from Royal Crest that Dad is going to Queen of the Valley Hospital.
And I just got told that he's got a fever and he had low oxygen.
How does anyone kind of stabilize throughout all this, emotionally?
It's been since February since I've seen my dad, and it's now December.
So, it's a lot of time... to have not seen anyone you love, and to... you know, be alone.
(switch clicks) (text messaging chirping) (switch clicks) So he has COVID, right?
WOMAN (on phone): Yes.
FRANCES: Also, you know, because we're Filipino, um, my mom and I were thinking, is it possible... (voice breaking): Are there priests to pray for my dad?
(crying): Um, is that, is that available at the hospital?
Um... To have someone pray for my dad, since we can't be there, or is it possible if we can speak to him over the phone or even try to FaceTime him?
I just... Or if he's by a window, like, I can go outside his window?
I, I just don't know how to, you know, how to communicate with my dad.
- Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
- (cries) So, yeah.
- I understand, I understand.
Um, let me, let me see what I can do.
Uh, I don't want to make any promises.
(switch clicks) (text messages chirping) (switch clicks) (computer chimes) Hi, Dad!
Dad, are you tired?
EDUARDO (on phone): Hi.
Are you okay?
FRANCES: Are you, are you sleepy?
Dad... Tulog na, Dad, already?
Dad, it's so early.
Dad, are you okay?
(computer chimes) ♪ ♪ MOM: "To Frances, Merry X-mas, Daddy.
I love you."
What is that?
(laughing) FRANCES: Right now, I'm trying...
I'm trying so hard to hang on to these memories of my dad because I don't want these memories, these current memories, knowing that my dad's been in... pain since his stroke, for the last four years.
I don't want that to be the only thing I remember.
(family laughing) CHILD: You can have sauce for the appetizer too.
Why is everything dry?
♪ ♪ (keys clacking) ♪ ♪ (computer chimes) Can't wait.
Can't (muted) wait for this.
Okay, Saturday, 5/1 and 5/2.
Okay, how about Sunday, 5/2?
WOMAN (on phone): Okay, Sunday.
What time, my dear?
FRANCES: Any time, I'll make any time work.
WOMAN: 3:00, and then you can extend, because nobody follows you.
FRANCES: 3:00-- okay, yeah, let's do 3:00.
WOMAN: But I'll put 3:00 to 3:30.
(computer chimes) (birds twittering) ♪ ♪ FRANCES: Do you remember when you were, we were younger, you would always have a camcorder, and you would always record me and Phillip?
EDUARDO (weakly): That's true.
So now I'm doing that.
(Frances laughs) EDUARDO: Wow.
Do you know that the, the first, the first one I worked on is now on The New Yorker?
EDUARDO: Oh, that's nice.
FRANCES (laughs): Yeah.
(Eduardo murmurs) EDUARDO: Okay.
You're going to lie down?
EDUARDO: My puet.
FRANCES: Your puet?
(laughing): Wait, what about your puet?
EDUARDO: Getting tired.
FRANCES: Your puet is tired?
Do you want me to call the nurse, then?
EDUARDO: Go back to... FRANCES: Yeah?
FRANCES: Can I get a hug before I leave?
(laughs) (groans playfully, laughs) Here, I'll give you a proper hug.
(Eduardo cries) FRANCES: I know.
EDUARDO: Thank you.
Thank you, God.
FRANCES: I know.
I'm so glad you're still with us.
FRANCES: Do you remember?
We almost lost you.
EDUARDO: Yeah, I know.
FRANCES: Do you remember?
December, we almost lost you.
You had COVID.
EDUARDO: God is so good.
And always be.
FRANCES: I know.
(keys clacking) There were so many times I really didn't want to make this film.
Dad, are you tired?
(voiceover): I thought about possible employers who might want to hire me and look me up and find that, "Oh, this is someone who has been struggling with this."
So he has COVID, right?
Are there priests to pray for my dad?
Have someone pray for my dad since we can't be there.
I'm having a really hard time sitting with that and them getting to know me and my family in a way that feels so vulnerable.
(on film): Dad.
(voiceover): My dad got sick with a stroke in 2016.
I'd been kind of documenting my experience.
The eldest daughter, divorced parents, just becoming a caregiver at a really young age.
Caregiving from a distance with my father being in a nursing facility during the height of the pandemic.
This, this hits in a different way when you are an Asian woman and if you know what those sort of responsibilities can be like to care for folks in your family.
(on film): How has my dad been doing?
(voiceover): I just realized the power of storytelling in that moment.
Feeling heard, seen, validated.
I very much remember him being this incredibly joyful, silly... (laughter on film) ...very deeply caring and sensitive individual.
Caregiving has been really difficult and hard, and in ten minutes I couldn't capture everything, the breadth and depth of what that experience was, because there were so many joyful, funny, amazing moments.
(on film): Can I get a hug before I leave?
(voiceover): Storytelling that can encapsulate all these different experiences and all these different things that make you who you are.
I'm really interested in telling those stories.
I personally really want to change the way in which we think about caregiving in America.
There are just so many hard topics and hard experiences that do need to be shared.
The exchange to me is...
Bringing down the wall of saving face to hopefully open up the conversation and make change.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪