News and Reviews
Educating About Asia Through Film    

December 2010    
Issue: #37    

In This Issue
Call For Films
Film Review: Burma VJ
Film Review: Japanland
AsiaLENS Series
About AEMS

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Japanland images

AEMS at the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) 

We are pleased to announce that at the next joint AAS-ICAS meeting in Honolulu March 31-April 3,  the Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS) will be organizing the non-stop video screenings held in conjunction with the meeting.  This year all screenings will be held in a state-of-the-art 300 seat theater at the conference site, and we hope to be able to invite some of the filmmakers for Q&A.  We are interested in films related to Asia which you may want to suggest.  Films produced in Asia are welcome, but they must have English narration or subtitles.

About twenty to thirty videos will be selected for scheduled showings. Criteria utilized in the selection process include timeliness, broad appeal to the scholarly community, and examples of new field work.  All films included in the program will be listed in the AAS Annual Meeting Program Addendum and described in handouts or brochures that will be available at the meeting. We will also supply a list of distributors and contact information.  Films the length of a typical class period (40 minutes or less), or which have segments the length of a class period, are encouraged (but are by no means necessary).

If you have seen a film you would like to recommend, please let the filmmaker (or AEMS) know. Filmmakers wishing to apply can find the instructions and application form here: . The deadline is for submission   December 10th, 2010. 

Burma VJ
Burma VJ
Directed by Anders Ƙstergaard. 2008. 84 minutes.

Reviewed by Robert E. Gutsche Jr.

Tear gas explodes. Choking fumes pollute the air. Soldiers rush the crowd of monks, tossing them into trucks. The protest is over. Many monks have been beaten; one is dead - the result of month's-long protest of an oppressive government in Rangoon, Burma in fall 2007. Within months, authorities will have arrested dozens of monks and fired upon citizens protesting in the streets. These images should enrage: Signs of political oppression and persecution captured by the trembling hands of a journalist videotaping subjugation and murder. "It is a difficult job," the narrator says. "But we try."

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country is a story of journalism at its most powerful moments: the times when people become so enraged that they become empowered, when the video camera, the still image, one's persistence and sacrifice merge to tell the stories that no one else can hear and tell - or maybe that some people don't want to hear. Certainly, Burma VJ tells a story that many in power within that country don't want told.


Directed by Karin Muller. 2006. 225 minutes.
Narrated in English

Reviewed by Nancy Jervis

Japanland, a two-disc DVD set based on a PBS TV series which first aired in 2005, has now been reformatted especially for classroom use but will be of interest to anyone curious about Japan. Told from the perspective of Karin Mueller, a solo-traveling Japanese-speaking documentary filmmaker, (see bio below) Japanland contains 24 short segments grouped into four chronological episodes, each segment lasting 2-8 minutes in length, ideal for classroom use. The episodes cover three thematic areas: contemporary urban life, religious practice, and folk arts. Each episode, as well as each short segment, can be viewed either individually or in the chronological order of Mueller's year-long trip, accessed through a convenient DVD menu.

Japanland is really two stories, intertwined: Karin Mueller's personal quest to find the "real" Japan, and the story of Japan itself.


Cha Jung HeeAsiaLENS
Documentary Film Screenings

AsiaLENS is a series of free public film screenings and lecture / discussion programs -- organized by AEMS in collaboration with the Spurlock Museum -- presenting recent documentary films on issues reflecting contemporary life in Asia.

AsiaLENS Spring 2011 Calendar:

Last Train Home (Lixin Fan, 2009, 85 min.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 7:00pm

Dishonored (Sigrun Norderval & Gard A. Andreassen, 2007, 52 min.)
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 7:00pm

The Sweetest Embrace: Return to Afghanistan (Najeeb Mirza, 2008, 74 min.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 7:00pm

In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee (Deann Borshay Liem, 2010, 62 min.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 7:00pm

About AEMS
Media Production Group
In addition to hosting film screenings, AEMS also produces and distributes its own materials under the brand name Media Production Group (MPG) .  These are short educational videos and DVDs about an aspect of Asian culture suitable for classroom use and accompanied by curriculum.  MPG titles. 

AEMS maintains a searchable database of over 6,000 films about Asia, including length, format, distributor and synopsis.  search the database

AEMS library, through its connection to the Lincoln Trails library system, circulates videos and DVDs locally from its collection of more than 2,000.  view

Asian Educational Media Service
805 W Pennsylvania Ave., Urbana, IL 61801