Lectures and Talks

Art Connects | Film Shorts | Directing the Eye: The Proximity of Strangers

Thu Sep 16, 2021 | 4 PM

Vancouver Art Gallery

Stills from Bird of Passage, 1966, Ping Pong, 1974, Have You Eaten, 2020, Reviving the Roost, 2019, and Stationary, 2005, Courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada

A Short Film Series on Asian-Canadian Identities Thursday, September 16 | 4 PM PST


Take a break and join us for a special screening of short films courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada to learn about some lesser known parts of Canadian history!

This Art Connects focuses on Asian Canadian stories and examines how creative representations of migrants, immigrants and travellers artfully use the body as a screen of calculated resistance, often subverting the projected end point of cultural adaptation with strategic tactics of performance.

The featured shorts probe pre-conceptions of immigrant and migrant cultural identity and presence, exploring the process of nation-making as both simultaneously imaginary and real, involving not only the visual presentation of myth-making but everyday negotiations of what it means to be Canadian.


Bird of Passage by Martin Defalco (1966 | 10 min)
Ping Pong by Marcel Carrière (1974 | 13 min)
Reviving the Roost by Vivek Shraya (2019 | 6 min)
Stationary by Monica Rho (2005 | 5 min)
Have You Eaten by Lina Li (2020 | 5 min)

This event is organized by Melissa Karmen Lee, Director of Education and Public Programs at the Vancouver Art Gallery. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at Lancaster University on Literature and Visual cultures and was an Asian Diaspora Scholar in Residence at the David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University in 2016.

Films provided courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

This episode of Art Connects is presented in partnership with the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Institute of Asian Art.

Questions? Submit them during the Zoom presentation using the Q&A function. You can also engage with your fellow attendees and panelists during the event using the Chat function.

New to Zoom? Learn how to register and attend a webinar here »


CART Services (Communication Access Realtime Translation) are available for Public Programs upon request. Please provide seven business days of advance notice prior to an event. We will make every effort to meet requests made outside of this window of time.

To place a request, or if you have questions about simultaneous interpretation, please contact Stephanie Bokenfohr by email at sbokenfohr@vanartgallery.bc.ca


Bird of Passage (1966): A young Japanese-Canadian businessman, now established in Montréal, recalls the time during World War II when the Japanese-Canadian community of Canada’s west coast was uprooted and moved inland. There are some flashbacks to the events he describes, but the film is mainly about his home and family life in Montréal and his successful career as a chemical engineer.

Ping Pong (1974): In the summer of 1973, the NFB filmed the table tennis competitions that took place in the People’s Republic of China between teams of young Canadians and Chinese, the first time in twenty-five years that such filming was made possible. Shown are highlights of play at the China-Canada Friendship Meet, as well as some of the sightseeing taken in by the young Canadians—a visit, for example, to the Great Wall of China. Film without words.

Stationary (2005): “A woman must find paper clips for a report due in the morning.” With this apparently simple description, director Monica Rho begins to explore the complexities and paradoxes of modern life; the isolation within today’s crowded cities; and inner, emotional insecurities. Genie Award-winning Canadian actor Sandra Oh voices the woman in quest of paper clips with a nuanced blend of assuredness and vulnerability. The film is stylish and crisp, with a bold graphic style and lively, witty animation.

Reviving the Roost (2019): With pulsating neon-light animation, Reviving the Roost is filmmaker and bestselling author Vivek Shraya’s ode to a popular Edmonton gay bar that closed in 2007. The short film is a story about community complexity and longing, and an elegy to a lost space.

Have You Eaten? (2020): Living in downtown Toronto to attend school, Lina Li returns to the comfort of home in Thornhill and her mother’s cooking. In this candid short, filmmaker Lina Li and her mother engage in an intimate conversation about immigration to Canada, misunderstandings, barriers to communicating, love and the taste of home. This film was produced as part of THE CURVE, a collection of social distancing stories that bring us together.


Presented by:

Jane Irwin and Ross Hill

With additional support from:
Presented in partnership with:
Films provided courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.