Cel-Shaded Nirvana (24 minutes)
by Amy Lynn Wolpert
Cel-Shaded Nirvana is a documentary film that shows how gamers perceive their time gaming as much more than just playing a game, at times serving a higher purpose. Through shared stories, the film takes viewers beyond the game play into how the gamers feel when gaming. The stories told by gamers—Justen, Mattie, Jason, Jeremy, and Roger—show the audience that the ordinary activity of gaming means much more than one would expect. In Cel-Shaded Nirvana, the filmmaker highlights the gamer sub-culture, how it is a meaningful part of gamers’ lives, fulfills a social need and provides an outlet for gamers to cope with life’s ambiguities through gaming.
Drowning in the Mainstream: Adults with Invisible Disabilities
by Julie C. Perrin
At least 15% of the American population suffers from some type of disability that affects the way they live their daily lives yet many of these people suffer in silence because they are living with medically recognized conditions that are not readily apparent to others. America was founded on the concept of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The citizens of our nation have taken this seriously by creating public policies which include provisions for the use and development of groundbreaking tools for the education of individuals with learning disabilities to providing mandatory access for people with impaired mobility in public infrastructure and architecture.
Accommodations that allow the visibly disabled to participate in mainstream society go almost unremarked. However, persons living with invisible disabilities, especially issues concerning mental health, are subjected to discrimination, prejudice, and stigma. Drowning in the Mainstream investigates the American cultural narrative and some of the common misconceptions attributed to people with conditions both mental and physical that are not readily apparent. The film seeks to initiate a dialogue on recognition and acceptance of this hidden community in order to level the playing field and aid in their pursuit of the American Dream.
Hmongness (30 minutes)
by Qingzhi Zhang
Hmongness is a documentary that shows the cultural life of a Hmong community in Long Beach. The filmmaker goes into the Hmong Association of Long Beach to find out what “being American Hmong” looks like, and how these Hmong preserve their culture and maintain their identity. Following three subjects from different generations, the film reveals that even though they are all trying to preserve their culture, they do so by highlighting different cultural symbols. While the elders in this community prefer traditional symbols, such as the instrument known as Qeej and the needlework known as Paj Ntaub, youths prefer newer, more fashionable ones—modernized versions of traditional dancing and clothes.
Once a Marine (24 minutes)
by Lucy Copp
Once A Marine explores the present-day life of a former Marine who, after two combat tours in Iraq, struggles to find meaning and purpose in the civilian world. Chris deeply craves the adrenaline-charged lifestyle of a Navy Seal but he constantly questions the ethics and intentions of U.S. military operations. As he attempts to make the civilian world work for him—going to work everyday, riding his motorcycle, training for triathlons—we begin to feel his profound unrest. We learn what the incomparable draw of the military is for Chris. But what remains uncertain is his future. If he reenters the military and leaves behind the banality of the civilian world, how will he reconcile his strengthening opposition to violence of any kind? If he gives up the military and remains a civilian, how will he let go of the one thing that has captivated him his entire life?
Youth Group (28 minutes)
by Wanwan Lu
What does it mean to be Chinese-American and second-generation Buddhist? Set in the predominantly Asian “ethnoburbs” of Los Angeles County, Youth Group takes an observational look at a vibrant Buddhist youth group in a Chinese-American temple. Youth group members, most raised by immigrant Buddhist parents, attempt to define Buddhism on their own terms as they struggle to understand the rituals and beliefs of their parents’ Buddhism. Interweaving the stories of teenagers in the midst of their identity formation and young adults faced with the challenge of cultivating the next generation of Buddhist youth leaders, Youth Group paints a lighthearted and intimate portrait of generational gap, hyphenated-identities, and flexible beliefs in Asian America.