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AEMS Documentary and Independent Film Series
at the Spurlock Museum

AsiaLENS is a film screening and discussion series offering campus and community audiences an opportunity to view documentary and independent film on issues reflecting contemporary life in Asia.

Presented admission free by the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, Spurlock Museum and Asian Educational Media Service, audiences engage with local and visiting experts who introduce the films and lead post-screening discussions.

PLEASE NOTE: SPRING 2021 screenings will be offered with limited access online with special discussion programs with filmmakers.

Full schedule for Spring 2021 is listed below.

Information on past screenings:Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019 , Spring 2020, Fall 2020


AsiaLENS Upcoming Spring 2021 Calendar:

Edo Avant Garde
Virtual Screening: Friday, February 19, 5p - Friday, February 26, 5p
Online Filmmaker Discussion: Tuesday, February 23, 4p
--- registration required to view film and discussion ---

Finding Yingying
Virtual Screening: Friday, April 2, 5p - Friday, April 9, 5p
Online Filmmaker Discussion: Tuesday, April 6, 5p
--- registration required to view film and discussion ---

Edo Avant Garde
A Linda Hoaglund Film.
2019. 83 minutes.

Virtual Screening:
Friday, February 19, 5p - Friday, February 26, 5p

Online Filmmaker Discussion:
Tuesday, February 23, 4p (registration required to view film and discussion)



Edo Avant Garde is a film revealing the untold story of how Japanese artists of the Edo era (1603 - 1868) set the stage for the "modern art" movement in the West.

During the Edo era, bold artists innovated abstraction, minimalism, surrealism and the illusion of 3-D. Their originality is most striking in images of the natural world depicted with gold leaf on large-scale folding screens. To capture the dynamism, scale and meticulous details of the art, Hoaglund worked with Japan's Academy Award-winning cinematographer Kasamatsu Norimichi to film masterpieces in museum and private collections across the U.S. and Japan.

Linda Hoaglund is a bilingual film director and producer who has subtitled 200 Japanese films and translated works by Japan's most esteemed artists. In 2014, she completed The Wound and The Gift, a film about rescued animals told through an ancient Japanese fable. Previously she created a trilogy of feature documentary films relating to the Pacific War and postwar U.S.-Japan relations: Things Left Behind (2012) explores the transformative power of photographs of clothing left behind by those who perished in Hiroshima, taken by Ishiuchi Miyako, winner of the 2014 Hasselblad Award. ANPO: Art X War (2010) tells the story of resistance to U.S. military bases in Japan, through a treasure trove of paintings, photographs, film clips and interviews with the artists who created them. She also produced and wrote Wings of Defeat (2007), about Kamikaze pilots who survived WWII and tell the truth about a military that could not accept defeat. She recently competed her new film, Edo Avant-garde.

Edo Avant Garde website
Edo Avant Garde Education Modules 

Co-sponsored by:
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Japan House
Krannert Art Museum

Finding Yingying
A film by Jiayan Shi.
2020. 98 minutes.

Virtual Screening:
Friday, April 2, 5p - Friday, April 9, 5p

Online Filmmaker Discussion:
Tuesday, April 6, 5p (registration required to view film and discussion)



An award winning documentary debut by Chicago-based filmmaker Jiayan Shi, Finding Yingying presents the tragic story of Yingying Zhang, the 26-year-old Chinese student who disappeared from the University of Illinois campus in 2017. In deftly balancing one of the most tragic events to befall Urbana Champaign, this film humanizes Yingying through her own diary reflections and the perspectives of her family and friends. With exclusive access gained by trust, Shi closely follows the family’s journey as they search to unravel the mystery of Yingying’s disappearance and seek justice for their daughter while navigating a strange, foreign country. As an international student, Shi knowingly conveys the universal hopes, dreams and fears of families with loved ones studying abroad.

Jiayan “Jenny” Shi (director, producer, cinematographer) is a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker and video journalist who is passionate about social justice issues regarding people of color. She shoots, edits and produces video stories and short documentaries about immigration, race and crime in Chicago for multiple outlets. She is also working on several projects as a researcher, digital content editor and translator including the ITVS co-produced web series Pulling The Thread and the 2020 Academy Award-winning Higher Ground Netflix film, American Factory. Jenny is a graduate of Kartemquin’s Diverse Voices In Docs program, a TFI Network alum, the winner of the Paley DocPitch Competition 2018 and a fellow of 2020-2021 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship. Jenny is named one of the DOC NYC “40 Under 40” filmmakers.

Brent E. Huffman (producer) is an award-winning director, writer and cinematographer of documentaries and television programs. His work ranges from documentaries aired on The Discovery Channel, The National Geographic Channel, NBC, CNN, PBS and Al Jazeera, to Sundance Film Festival premieres, to ethnographic films made for the China Exploration and Research Society. He has directed, produced, shot and edited short documentaries for online outlets like The New York Times, TIME, Salon, Huffington Post and PBS Arts. Most recently, Huffman completed the documentary Saving Mes Aynak about the fight to save Mes Aynak, a 5,000-year-old Buddhist site in Afghanistan, threatened by a Chinese copper mine. "Saving Mes Aynak" has won over thirty major awards, been translated in over twenty languages and has been broadcast on television in over fifty countries. The film premiered on Netflix in January 2017.

Shilin Sun (co-producer,cinematographer) is a cinematographer and producer based in Los Angeles. After finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and joining the Film MFA program at the ArtCenter College of Design in 2018, Shilin worked as assistant editor on the PBS Documentary-series Veterans Coming Home. Shilin's most recent works also include an in-development documentary on the Women Airforce Service Pilots during WWII, directed by Oscar-nominated director Matia Karrell.


Finding Yingying Website
Finding Yingying Trailer






Last Updated January 26, 2021

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