September 15th, 2013
During our community screening at NUS (National University of Singapore)we had a very positive response from the students, professors, and public who attended. Almost all seats were taken despite the fact that it was in the morning on a weekday.
For the panel discussion, we had two professors from the Migration cluster, who raised interesting points about types of VISA’s, and conditions in which hafu’s lived in Japan before 1985, like in Ed’s case how he was able to grow up in Japan under Venezuelan citizenship. They found a lot of interest in the fact that he was emotionally tied to his passport when he was a teenager. They talked about transnational migrations and the question of where people feel like they are from despite the country of citizenship. They also brought up the question of diversity and acceptance within ones own country comparing it with Singapore, how there is a perception of Singapore being multicultural and accepting between the different races, but then actually not so much.
The Japanese studies teachers talked about the journey of self discovery and acceptance. One of the professors was very happy that the film had covered young adults points of view vs. children; people who leave Japan vs. people who stay in Japan and people who cross between borders. They wanted to know if other hafu’s had similar experiences to those featured in the film, and if our own personal experiences growing up could be seen reflected in the film. And of course the reason why the term hafu was chosen for the title.
Among the people in the audience we had a girl who was the daughter of Indian parents who lived in Kobe for many years, she knew Ed, and talked about how the message on the poster says that “Japan is changing,” she wanted to enforce that Japan has been diverse for many years, its just that the people don’t pay attention to the diversity around them, and its definitely the way that they behave and interact what causes the feeling of being in a homogenous country.
There were also concerned parents, a Japanese mother who was conflicted with her choice of sending her daughter to international school vs. Japanese school and a father who said that the movie was a very meaningful. He could relate to it as his children are also going through the international school system, and they had been living away from Japan for many years.
Overall everyone was emotionally touched and very happy to have seen the film or been part of the panel discussions. Many laughs and sobs were heard in the audience with a nice applause at the end.