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    We're looking forward to the next AsiaLENS screening on Nov. 10.
    Our AAS Film Expo 2016 call for films is now open!


  • AEMS Library New Releases

    AEMS is happy to announce that eleven new DVDs have been added to our documentary film collection.

    Browse the new titles below. For more information about each film, including whether a film has been reviewed in News & Reviews, click for links to our database. To borrow one of the titles, please email our librarian, Kristin, at or proceed to our catalog if you have a library account.


    Ai Weiwei the Fake Case
    A film by Andreas Johnsen. 2014. 89 minutes.

    After 81 days of solitary detention world famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is put under house arrest. He suffers from sleeping disorder and memory loss, 18 cameras are monitoring his studio and home, police agents follow his every move, and heavy restrictions from the Kafkaesque Chinese authorities weigh him down. Journalists, the art world and his family all want a piece of him and on top of that he is met with a gigantic lawsuit from the Chinese government, soon to be named ‘The Fake Case’. Ai Weiwei is shaken, but during the year on probation he steadily finds new ways to provoke and challenge the mighty powers of the Chinese authorities in his fight for human rights. Ai Weiwei strongly believes that China is ready for change. And he will do everything to make it happen.

    Bitter Seeds
    Directed by Micha X. Peled. 2012. 88 minutes.

    Bitter Seeds examines the epidemic of suicides among India’s cotton farmers who are deeply in debt after switching to genetically modified seeds.

    A film by Dan Smyer Yu and Pema Tashi. 2011. 55 minutes.

    Through the narratives of a father and a son, two tantric yogis of two generations, this film illustrates both the transcendental and inter-sentient dimensions of Tibetan sacred sites and of their ecological significance. It documents a ritualized relationship of people and the place of their dwelling and natural surroundings.

    Memory of Forgotten War
    A film by Deann Borshay Liem and Ramsay Liem. 2013. 37 minutes.

    Unknown or forgotten by most Americans, the Korean War divided a people with several millenniums of shared history. Memory of Forgotten War conveys the human costs of military conflict through deeply personal accounts of four Korean American survivors whose experiences and memories embrace the full circle of the war: its outbreak and the day-to struggle for survival, separation from family members across the DMZ, the aftermath of a devastated Korean peninsula, and immigration to the United States. Each person reunites with relatives in North Korea conveying beyond words the meaning of four decades of family loss. Their stories belie the notion that war ends for civilians when the guns are silenced an foreshadow the future of countless others displaced by ongoing military conflict today.

    The Mosuo Sisters
    Directed by Marlo Poras and Yu Ying Wu Chou. 2013. 80 minutes.

    The Mosuo Sisters follows Juma and Latso, young women from one of the last remaining matriarchal societies, as they are thrust into the worldwide economic downturn and lose their jobs. Determined to keep their family out of poverty, one sister sacrifices her dreams and stays home to farm, while the other leaves to try her luck in the city.

    Returning Souls
    Directed by Tai-Li Hu. 2012.  85 minutes.

    In this documentary film by Tai-Li Hu of Academia Sinica, Taiwan, a unique case of repatriation unfolds as the villagers of the matrilineal Amis tribe in Taiwan recover the ancestral souls residing in the pillars of their ancestral house, toppled by a typhoon and now on display in a museum.  Bringing back the ancestral souls, begins the difficult reconstruction of a new ancestral house.

    Somewhere Between
    A film by Linda Goldstein Knowlton. 2012. 88 minutes.

    Of the roughly 80,000 girls who have been adopted from China since 1989, a decade after China implemented its One Child Policy, the film intimately follows four teenagers: Haley, Jenna, Anna and Fang. These four wise-beyond-their-years yet typical American Teens reveal a heartbreaking sense of self-awareness as they attempt to answer the uniquely human question, "Who am I?" Issues of belonging, race and gender are brought to life through these articulate subjects, who approach life with honesty and open hearts.

    Surviving the Tsunami ‒ My Atomic Aunt
    A film by Kyoko Miyake. 2013. 52 minutes.

    Film director Kyoko Miyake remembered Namie, a fishing village ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, as her childhood paradise. Revisiting her family’s hometown after 10 years abroad, Miayke’s multilayered documentary examines the disaster’s profound personal, social and environmental impact.

    What's for Dinner?
    A film by Jian Yi. 2013. 29 minutes.

    Meat is now central to billions of people's daily needs. The environmental, climate, public health, ethical, and human impacts are enormous and remain largely undocumented. What's for Dinner? explores this terrain in fast-globalizing China through the eyes of a retired pic farmer in rural Jiangxi province; a vegan restauranteur in Beijing; a bullish young livestock entrepreneur; and residents of the province known as the "world's factory" contending with water polluted by wastes from pig factory farms. They personalize the vast trends around them, in a country on the cusp of becoming a world power. Given that every fifth person in the world in Chinese, what the Chinese eat and how China produces its food, affects not only China but the world too.

    Tales of the Waria
    Directed by Kathy Huang.  2011.  56 minutes.

    Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population.  It is also home to a community of transgendered individuals known as warias, biological men who live openly as women.  In this eye-opening PBS documentary, four warias search for romance and intimacy.  Along the way, they encounter unique obstacles that force them to make extraordinary sacrifices to keep the ones they love.

    To The Light
    Directed by Yuanchen Liu. 2012. 69 minutes.

    To the Light delves into the hopes and struggles of the mining families of Sichuan, in western China. The father of two, Luo originally became a coal miner to pay the fine for violating China’s One Child Policy. The mines are notoriously dangerous and thousands are killed every year. Going deep underground, the film exposes the perils faced by these miners, the slim rewards, and dire consequences when things go wrong. In spite of the risks, the working poor continue to flock to the mines, unable to heed the warning that earning a living wage may also mean dying for it. 


  • Smile Politely reviews Asian Film Festival Films

    Champaign-Urbana's independent online magazine Smile Politely published the following reviews of films featured in Asian Film Festival 2010: Visualizing Tibet, presented at the Spurlock Museum November 2-7, 2010.

     Unmistaken Child

    Reviewed by Grant Benda on Friday, November 5, 2010


    The Search: Four different storylines, and not one explosion

    Reviewed by Beth Dillman on Tuesday, November 9, 2010


    A sort of love story

    The Search Reviewed by Daniel Wolff on Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Milarepa: It's not a bad movie

    Reviewed by Beth Dillman on Wednesday, November 10, 2010


  • CALL FOR FILMS: Association of Asian Studies (AAS)

    AEMS at the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) 

    We are pleased to announce that at the next joint AAS-ICAS meeting in Honolulu March 31-April 3,  the Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS) will be organizing the non-stop video screenings held in conjunction with the meeting.  This year all screenings will be held in a state-of-the-art 300 seat theater at the conference site, and we hope to be able to invite some of the filmmakers for Q&A.  We are interested in films related to Asia which you may want to suggest.  Films produced in Asia are welcome, but they must have English narration or subtitles.

    About twenty to thirty videos will be selected for scheduled showings. Criteria utilized in the selection process include timeliness, broad appeal to the scholarly community, and examples of new field work.  All films included in the program will be listed in the AAS Annual Meeting Program Addendum and described in handouts or brochures that will be available at the meeting. We will also supply a list of distributors and contact information.  Films the length of a typical class period (40 minutes or less), or which have segments the length of a class period, are encouraged (but are by no means necessary).

    If you have seen a film you would like to recommend, please let the filmmaker (or AEMS) know. Filmmakers wishing to apply can find the instructions and application form here: . The deadline is for submission   December 10th, 2010. 


  • WILL - AM 580 featured Asian Film Festival 2010 on Focus

    On Monday November 01, 2010, 10:06 AM WILL - AM featured

    Visualizing Tibet: 2010 Asian Film Festival, University of Illinois

    Nancy Jervis, Ph.D., Program Director, Asian Educational Media Service, University of Illinois

    Elliot Sperling, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Central Euasian Studies, Indiana University

    Lynn True, director Summer Pasture


  • AsiaLENS Screening - Nov 2 - Unmistaken Child

    Unmistaken Child Image

    Unmistaken Child

    by Nati Baratz, 2008, 102 minutes.
    In English, Tibetan, Hindi and Nepali with English subtitles.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010, 7:00 pm  
    ***Presented as part of Asian Film Festival 2010: Visualizing Tibet***

    Spurlock Museum, Knight Auditorium, 600 S. Gregory Street, Urbana, IL

     Discussion led by Alexander L. Mayer (Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures and Religious Studies, UI)


    Unmistaken Child
    follows a Tibetan monk’s four-year search for the reincarnation of his beloved teacher, which leads to a remarkable quest on foot, mule and even helicopter, through breathtaking landscapes and remote traditional Tibetan villages.  Along the way, he listens to stories about young children with special characteristics, and performs rarely seen ritualistic tests designed to determine the likelihood of reincarnation.

    Official website: Unmistaken Child

     Unmistaken Child Film Trailer

    New York Times

    Full Frame Inspiration Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2009
    Anne Dellinger Special Jury Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2009
    The Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award (Honorable Mention), Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2009
    Best Documentary Feature, River Run Film Festival, 2009
    Special Jury Prize, Independent Film Festival of Boston, 2009


  • WILL am 580 interview with Kevin Lee of dGenerate Films

    Kevin Lee, Vice President of Programming and Education of dGenerate Films, discusses the AsiaLENS screening of "1428" and his lecture "Chinese Cinema from the Fifth Generation to the d-Generation" on WILL am 580's "The Afternoon Magazine".  Story air date: Friday, October 01, 2010  Listen to the archived show here.


  • Asian Film Festival 2010: Visualizing Tibet | November 2-7

    Asian Film Festival 2010

    AEMS and the IL/IN East Asian National Resource Center present:
    Asian Film Festival 2010: Visualizing Tibet

    November 2 - 7, 2010
    Tuesday through Sunday

    Spurlock Museum
    600 S. Gregory Street
    Urbana, IL

    With a special Thursday night film event at:
    The Art Theater / 126 W. Church Street, Champaign, IL

    All films are in Chinese or Tibetan with English subtitles.
    Seating will be first come, first served, and theater will be cleared between screenings.

    Special Guests:
    Elliot Sperling, Associate Professor, Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
    Arjia Rinpoche, Director, Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, Bloomington, IN
    Lynn True, Film Director, Summer Pasture

    Co-sponsors: Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH), Weber State University, Kham Film Project, AsiaPacificFilms, Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies UI

    Supported with funding from the U.S. Department of Education National Research Centers Program

    Film Festival Schedule

    Tuesday, November 2
    7:00pm - Unmistaken Child (Nati Baratz, 2008, 102 min)

    Thursday, November 4 (Art Theater, Champaign,IL)
    7:30pm - Kundun (Martin Scorsese, 1997, 135 min)

    Friday, November 5
    7:00pm - Summer Pasture (Lynn True and Nelson Walker, 2010, 86 min)
    9:15pm - Serfs(Nongnu)( Li Jun, 1963, 88 min)

    Saturday, November 6
    1:00pm - Milarepa (Neten Chokling, 2006, 90 min)
    3:15pm - Tantric Yogi (Chenaktsang Dorje Tsering, 2005, 50 min)
    7:00pm - The Search (Pema Tseden, 2009, 112 min)
    9:20pm – Song of Tibet (Xie Fei, 2000, 95 min)

    Sunday, November 7
    1:00pm - The Search (Pema Tseden, 2009, 112 min)
    3:15pm - Milarepa (Neten Chokling, 2006, 90 min)




  • Chinese Cinema from the Fifth Generation to the d-Generation

    ***** SPECIAL EVENT *****

    Chinese Cinema from the Fifth Generation to the d-Generation
    Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 3:30 pm

    Spurlock Museum, Knight Auditorium
    600 S. Gregory Street, Urbana, IL

    Kevin Lee, Vice President of Programming and Education of dGenerate Films, will present a special lecture on contemporary, independent film and filmmakers in China.

    Free and open to the public.

    dGenerate Films Website



  • AsiaLENS Screening - Oct 5 - 1428


    1428 film image

    by Haibin Du, 2009, 117 minutes.
    In Mandarin with English subtitles.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 7:00 pm
    Spurlock Museum, Knight Auditorium, 600 S. Gregory Street, Urbana, IL

    Discussion led by Kevin Lee (Vice President of Programming and Education, dGenerate Films).


    Awarded as the Best Documentary at the 2009 Venice International Film Festival, 1428 is a stunning exploration of the 8.0 earthquake that shook China’s Sichuan province in 2008, causing 70,000 deaths and 375,000 casualties. Directed by Du Haibin, 1428 goes beyond the filtered official visits portrayed in mainstream media, documenting the aftermath some seven months after the Great Sichuan Earthquake took place at exactly 14:28 on May 12, 2008. While villagers are preparing for the Lunar New Year, and promises made for housing everyone through the winter seem tough to keep, a never-ending parade of tourists arrive with New Year‘s Day, buying DVDs of the most horrific scenes, souvenir albums of corpses being pulled out of the ruins, and photo-taking in front of Beichuan, the town most severely hit, where tens of thousands of people perished in seconds.


    Official website: dGenerate Films has film descripton, credits, and trailer