Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s annual documentary film festival, KDocs, will soon be hosting a digital screening of Emergence: Out of the Shadows and The Six, two documentaries that highlight the rise in anti-Asian violence since 2019.
Greg Chan, KPU creative writing instructor and community outreach director at KDocs, says he and his team focused on finding films about anti-Asian hate this year to educate viewers and raise more awareness about it.
“We’ve had such a surge in anti-Asian hate over the last couple of years,” says Chan. “A large part of our student body and our staff and faculty are South Asian and East Asian, so we wanted films that address those issues.”
The Vancouver Police Department saw anti-Asian hate crimes rise 717 per cent over the past year, with 142 incidents in 2019, and 280 in 2020.
“Unfortunately, Vancouver is the anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America,” says Chan.
He says the release of the documentaries is at the right time because both films speak to diversity and inclusivity but also address systemic racism.
“They also have an anti-racism message, and that’s a perennial theme for social justice programming,” says Chan. “A call to action. We want them, of course, to be entertained, educated, and informed, but we want our viewers and our audience to do something with that information.”
On Oct. 10, Emergence: Out of the Shadows will be released to viewers. Surrey-based filmmaker Alex Sangha produced the documentary, after helping to create My Name is January, which was featured in last year’s festival.
Emergence: Out of the Shadows follows the story of Kayden, Jag, and Amar, as they come out to their Punjabi Sikh families and deal with the confrontation of deep-rooted traditions within the culture, their families, and community.
A live panel discussion will take place on Oct. 11, which is also National Coming Out Day and will feature Sangha and others who appear in the movie.
“We want to bring people together to have dialogue about social justice issues, but also to have a takeaway,” he says. “For Emergence, it’s to learn how to become a better ally to the LGBTQ community.”
He says the film is helpful to those who know a family member who is queer or someone who is questioning.
In addition to Emergence, starting Nov. 17, KDocs will showcase The Six, a documentary that shows the erased history of six Chinese survivors of the Titanic sinking in 1912 and examines exclusion laws in the U.S, Canada, and the U.K.
Directed by Arthur Jones, the film was set to be released last year but was delayed due to the pandemic. The film will also have a panel discussion on Nov. 19.
“A lot of it had to do with racism and anti-immigration policies of the government even though it’s a film that deals with the sinking of the Titanic and the survivors from over 100 years ago, it’s still very relevant today,” says Chan.
“It speaks to how anti-Asian racism can start and how it’s manifested. It’s a lesson and how to prevent it,” he says. “This is [a story] that has never been told before.”
He encourages people to register for this year’s festival and join the panel discussions.
“Just questioning why this story has been erased … the way they were mistreated as Chinese passengers, both on the Titanic, but also once they reached land. That’s what we need to have the conversation about.”