girl photo

She Wants to Talk to You

Project Narrative:
SHE WANTS TO TALK TO YOU is a filmic triptych consisting of "The Meeting," "The Conversation," and "The Song." Thoughts about intimacy echo throughout the piece as intercutting shots containing the recollections of the female foreigner, accompanied by images of dark, deep red close-ups of preparations for a worshipping.

"The Meeting" begins with questions and comments from a Nepali girl who befriends an Asian-American female foreigner, revealing their class, age and foreigner/native status. Intercut with textured images of the dirt path that links their living quarters, the hand of the foreigner reaches towards a black iron gate, opens and closes the gate and walks away. Along with these images, we hear the Nepali girl's voice: Why did you come in Nepal? Are you coming again back to Nepal? I think when you go to your country, you'll forget us. You are so lucky that your parents let you go in every country. Who cooks for you? You won't feel afraid when you sit alone in your room? Do you want to be a boy?

The second triptych, "The Conversation," documents the discussions held by Monika Rasali, Sushma Sada and Vinita Shrestha in English on sexism, marriage, love, loneliness, their dreams and God, including their response to a question I posed, which was if they had 2 minutes on a national radio spot, what would they say to the boys in Nepal. These interviews are juxtaposed with interviews of a multi-caste, multi-generational group of Nepali women who are currently residing in the U.S. to reflect the stories of numerous women around the world, who continue to seek refuge in countries that allow for more freedom and opportunities.

Finally, using live action and colorful paper cut-out animation, "The Song" consists of a song, written and performed in Nepali by Vinita Shrestha, which describes a tragic love story of a person who leaves a loved one behind. This film is important to me not only because of the subject matter, but because it was initiated by the three Nepali girls who I met while I was an artist-in-resident in Kathmandu.

I had originally asked them if they wanted to make a film with me, and excitedly, they came up with the idea of making an all-girl musical, ala Hindi musicals. However, as they began writing the script, they realized the repercussions of their singing and dancing on film. "Good girls" just don't do that in Nepal. This realization lead to passionate discussions of what it was like to be girls in Nepal and, finally to the girls' expressing their desire to make their ideas known. For once, they felt their feelings and experiences are valid and worth being told.

Making this film is the promise I made to them. Very few films give voice and expression to the Nepali women and girls, who daily, experience second-class citizen status. That said, this film intends to offer some of these women a space for articulation, solidarity and creativity, without once again, reifying the victim status of Asian women and girls.

Finally, captivated by my friendship with these girls and the environment surrounding me, I decided to incorporate my own recent preoccupation with the nature of human intimacy into this film. I began to think about the ways in which intimacy is created and exhibited in the U.S. and in Nepal. What does it mean that not many Nepali households have a telephone? Or that dead bodies are burned in public? That one has to learn to move about in darkness? More personally, why do I crave an intimacy in the U.S. that I find myself in awe of and frightened of in Nepal, in Asia?

Some Bios:
(Producer/Director/Writer/Camera in Nepal/Sound Design/ Editor) is a San Francisco-based filmmaker whose works have screened nationally and internationally, won awards, and been broadcast on public television. One Hundred Eggs a Minute (23 min., 16mm, b/w, 1996) was shown on Northwest Airlines' Independents in Flight program. This is a program which showcases independent short films on national and international flight. Other works include Imagining Place (35 min.,16mm, color, 1999), which received the New Visions Award at the LA Asian Film Festival, Unboxed (18 min., video, color,1999), Mommy, What's Wrong? (23 min., 16mm, color, 1997), Video Letter to the President (7 min., video, color, 1996), and Spofford Alley (4 min., s-8mm/ video, 1994). Her works are distributed by Berkeley's UC Extension Center for Media, National Asian American Telecommunications Assoc. and Third World Newsreel.

CHANG received her BA in American Studies and English from Tufts University, and MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University. She is primarily interested in engaging film as a tool for exploring themes and telling personal stories in a manner that accentuate the complexities of the subjects' inner and outer worlds. Her films are politically motivated, but always, aesthetically based. By working with the surface of the filmic medium (e.g. hand-processing), manipulating time and rhythm (e.g., optical-printing), and using sound in unconventional ways, she is always discovering ways to experiment with content and form that brings the "real life" moving image genre to another level of interpretation and audience experience.

In affiliation with the Film Arts Foundation, she recently completed a 3 month artist-in-residency at the Academy of Audio-Visual Arts in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she taught an intensive 8-week course in "Alternative Techniques in Documentary Production." She has taught super-8 and 16mm film production, experimental cinema and curatorial management courses at San Francisco State University for the past 4 years, and guest lectured at colleges such as the SF Art Institute, Massachusetts College of Art and UMass-Boston. She has also taught at SF Unified School District's School of the Arts, SF University High School, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' Youth Ambassador Program, the SF Conservation Corp, a federally funded community and environmental development program for youth, and at the Film Arts Foundation through their STAND program for first-time directors from under-represented backgrounds, and general seminar workshops.

CHANG has spent more than 10 years working with youth ages 11 to 18, from various ethnic and class backgrounds in capacities ranging from counselor, educator to advocate. She is currently Education Director at TILT (Teaching Intermedia Literacy Tools), a grassroots organization which brings media literacy education and media production to youth in public schools and after school programs.

SHAILA GEORGE (Co-Animator) is a NY-based illustrator. She is Indian-Malaysian and has been living in the U.S. for 15 years. She freelances as a Set Designer for Japanese and European music videos, and is an In-house Designer for a NY-based stationary company.

ANJALI SUNDARAM (Cinematographer) is a SF-based filmmaker and cinematographer. She has worked on numerous independent 16mm and 35mm film productions for directors such as Jon Moritsugu, Lynn Hershman, Susanna Donvan, and Janelle Rodriguez.

CHARULATA PRASADA (Consultant) is an Indian-born Canadian currently living and working in Nepal. She is working with the UNICEF-Meena Communication Intitiative, a multimedia package aimed to create awareness, generate discussion among children and adults on the status of the girl, and to remove discrimination.

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