2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Visual Communications (VC). On Saturday, May 12, 2018, VC will host an inaugural gala with the theme Coming Home as part of PAST//FORWARD, a series of fundraisers to provide ongoing support for Visual Communications. Coming Home will be a time to celebrate VC’s amazing history and to envision the future. As part of the evening’s festivities, we will recognize and honor those who have advanced Asian Pacific American media. When I entered the USC Cinema Department in the 70s, there were no films made by or about Asian Americans, and it wasn’t until I enrolled in a Japanese American history class that I discovered Wataridori: Birds of Passage, a beautifully directed documentary about Japanese immigrants produced by Visual Communications. The moment I saw this film I was inspired to tell my stories from my point of view. VC proved to be the only local organization to encourage and support this work.
In 1980, VC produced the first Asian American feature film called Hito Hata, starring Mako. The thought that we could take on an important message about immigration, social justice and gentrification in one film was extraordinary. What was even more empowering is that many of you came forward with donations to complete the film.
During the 80s, much of VC’s funding was cut, but due to the perseverance and vision of then-Executive Director Linda Mabalot, the organization survived and emerged to be a prestigious media arts institution. From the first Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival that VC organized in 1983 to today, many directors have been showcased in the Festival, including Academy Award winner Chris Tashima, A-List director Justin Lin, Emmy nominee Renee Tajima-Peña, documentarian Grace Lee, and up-and-coming director Justin Chon. These artists have emerged as preeminent film and television directors of our time.
I am also thrilled to share that the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is now an Academy Award®-qualifying festival for the Short Film Awards. In addition to the Festival, Visual Communications continues to support emerging artists through Armed with a Camera, C3 Conference, and Digital Histories.
VC has certainly come a long way, but the work cannot continue without your help. The dream is for Visual Communications to ultimately be the organization to produce the first Best Picture Oscar Winner featuring an Asian American director and cast.
Please join me in supporting Visual Communications over the next three years and beyond so this dream can come true.
Janice D. Tanaka2018 Gala Committee