The screening of the 2023 film “Past Lives” at Brunswick’s Eveningstar Cinema drew a large crowd of students and town residents alike this past Sunday. Some hopeful moviegoers were even turned away at the door due to a lack of seating availability, a far cry from initial concerns of low turnout.
“Past Lives” kicked off the College’s Asian American Reckonings film series. The screening was required for students in the Asian American Cinema class taught by Professor of Asian Studies and Cinema Studies Shu-chin Tsui, but it was also open to the public.
Asian American Reckonings is a collaboration of five professors across multiple departments and disciplines at the College, each of whom utilize their specific areas of expertise to amplify the voices of Asian Americans. Seven courses taught by the faculty members are also included in the initiative’s umbrella—including Tsui’s Asian American Cinema course.
The initiative will continue throughout the academic year; plans include various lectures and discussions as well as an upcoming exhibition at the BCMA entitled “Without Apology: Asian American Selves, Memories, Futures.” The exhibition will be curated by the “Reckonings” faculty and is set to open December 14.
The film series’ successful launch convinced the initiative’s faculty of the community’s enthusiasm for their work.
“The first film built up momentum immediately,” Tsui said. “It was kind of a test, ‘Who cares about Asian American films?’ And people do care.”
Screenings in the film series will continue to be held on Sundays throughout the fall semester at 7:00 p.m. in Smith Auditorium. The final screening of the series will feature Academy Award winner “Everything Everywhere All At Once” on December 3 at Eveningstar Cinema.
Each film focuses on Asian American culture and identity, is directed by Asian American directors and features a primarily Asian American cast.
The goal of Tsui’s class and its accompanying screenings stretches beyond the 35 students taking part in Asian American Cinema each Wednesday and Friday. Tsui said she created the course outline hoping that its messages of centering identity and awareness of social issues would reach far and wide.
“The drive behind [Asian American Reckonings] is to try to promote awareness of all these social problems,” Tsui said.
Tsui hopes filmgoers walk out of each screening with a sense of empowerment.
“I want this to open up a platform and provide people with the skills and the language to bring out their own voice,” she said.
Hanako Walker ’26, a student in Tsui’s class, attended the first movie screening at Eveningstar. She was inspired to take the class because of the intrigue and comfort she found in the subject matter.
“The movie list was all these movies that I’ve either adored or just heard great things about. It’s just been interesting to learn more about them, but it’s also kind of a comfort,” she said. “I have been looking for places of cultural affinity and ways to tap into my culture at Bowdoin because it’s a really different space than home.”