Obviously, I am related to all Asian people, and I represent all of Asia. To prove my point, I will now demonstrate how I am personally related to every single Asian film in the Human Rights Film Festival (Auckland 12-19 May, Wellington 25 May-1 June).
Behind the Labels, about sweatshop workers on the US territory of Saipan, and Children, about sweatshop workers anywhere. Actually, in the publicity photos they're all Chinese workers. Obviously we're related!
Mercy, AIDS orphans in Thailand. My paternal grandmother was born and raised in Thailand. I still have relatives there. We're related!
Reframe, a New Zealand documentary about a New Zealand Human Rights lawyer in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Director Jo Luping and lawyer Dianne Luping's parents are Malaysian Chinese. My dad's Malaysian Chinese! We're related!
Also, with regard to the other Palestinian/Israeli films in the festival, such as Promises - Palestine is an associate-member of the
Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutes, along with Afghanistan and Jordan! We're related!
Greed and Grievance, Aceh's War (short film). Hmm... My Malaysian grandfather's fourth wife is from an old Indonesian Chinese family... but probably more pertinently, I once resettled an Acehnese refugee who had a mullet which made him look just like my brother in 1986. We're related!
Shipbreakers. The world dumps its worn out machinery in Asia, in this case, the Alang shipwrecking yard. Alang is in Gujurat, and my blood-sister, united by chilli pickle, the Kumar to my Harold, is one Rina Patel. Go see her in the Lambuji and Tinguji show this week at Bats. We're related! I also have an Aunty from Kerala, but that's Kerala, so it doesn't count.
Singapore Rebel (short film) - ok, this one I'm excited about. The story of opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, constantly imprisoned for championing democratic change. The film was banned in Singapore. My mother's Singaporean! And my cousin is a Singaporean human rights lawyer who worked in the same building as JB Jeyaretnam, who also used to keep being fined and imprisoned for being an opposition MP and whenever she bumped into him in the lift, he looked really grumpy and sour, and it's no wonder why! We're related!
And now for the big league. Hong Kong may lead the region and the world in both quantity and quality of its kung fu extravaganza, and no-one can touch Bollywood for musicals. But the award for top national producer of Human Rights documentaries (comprising 63.4% of GDP) is Myanmar. Or, as it was called when my mother was born there, Burma.
Sacrifice, four Burmese girls trafficked into prostitution in Thailand, Burma Report - the May 30th Incident (short), eyewitness accounts and footage of the 1988 military coup, Entrenched Abuse: forced labour in Burma (short) and No Place to Go: internally displaced people in Burma (short).
My mother's family fled Burma in 1954, and it wasn't even that bad yet, comparatively speaking. I still have relatives in Burma, and I don't even want to say where, or what their names are. I've never visited them, and I don't know if I will ever be able to. If I did visit them, I don't know what would happen to them for having contact with foreigners who are known to do things like promote Human Rights Film Festivals, or who have admitted to working for refugee agencies and human rights organisations. I don't know what would happen. I know what could happen of course - I used to be a refugee status officer. We're related.
Who knows what kind of joke I've been making here, or whether it's been very funny. Families are like that; they throw you off.