By Serena Chow, AsAmNews Intern
As a special tribute to the healthcare professionals working on the frontlines of combating COVID-19, a new Asian American short film titled Dr. Daddy shares the story of a young girl who misses her father, a doctor, who is unable to be with her during the pandemic.
Centered around a Skype call between a father and daughter, the film highlights the pain associated with families being separated, the sacrifice of health care workers, and the weighing uncertainty during the pandemic.
Soeun Park wrote, directed, and produced the short film, which features Asian American actor Henry Mark from Fresh Off the Boat and Kyriana Kratter, Park’s daughter who is a young actress and singer.
In an interview with AsAmNews, Park expressed how the rise in reported verbal and physical attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have been incredibly disheartening, given the many AAPIs on the frontlines who are fighting the virus amid a concerning scarcity of protective personal equipment and other medical shortages.
“I just had this idea like people should be more grateful,” Park said. “ There are Asian American doctors and Asian doctors out there, and they are on the frontline, saving lives and it’s just so brutal that they might be working 18 hour days in a hospital treating everyone regardless of race, but their family members are in danger when they go to the supermarket because of anti-asian racism.”
According to the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, there are over 2 million Asian American and Pacific Islander workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Forbes reports additional statistics: 17% of doctors, 9% of physician assistants and nearly 10% of nurses in the United States are of Asian descent.
However, since the virus’ initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, COVID-19 has been largely personified as Chinese, with President Donald Trump and his administration referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus,” “Wuhan Virus,” and the “Kung Flu”.
As hate crimes against AAPIs continue to surge, groups like the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council have launched a reporting center to monitor discriminatory incidents. STOP AAPI HATE has received nearly 1,500 reports of coronavirus-related harassment against AAPI individuals across the country, according to its most recent press release.
In an effort to shed light on the continuing contributions of AAPIs in combating the pandemic and supporting their communities, Park shared that it was important for her to prioritize an Asian American cast for her short film.
Park further added that representation of marginalized groups has always been an issue in media industries. By featuring Asian Americans in her short film, Park expressed that she hoped her short film would also be a way to support AAPIs artists and amplify their voices as well as experiences.
“I know there are really very few opportunities out there in mainstream media for Asian Americans,” Park said. “And when there are opportunities, often a lot of Asian Americans are portrayed in a really demeaning way…most of the time, you know, Asian Americans or Asians are not portrayed as 100% respectable. You know, human beings worthy of respect and admiration. And so I wanted that opportunity, even just in the film that I was doing.”
Park shared that the short film was also meaningful as she was able to collaborate with her children in the making of the film.
“Through the short film, I kind of wanted to promote what they’re interested in,” Park said. “So my daughter is an actress and a singer, and my oldest son, who is 17, does music. He’s a music producer, so he composed the music for the short film. And I just thought it was a great way for us to work together and do something cool.”
Kyrianna Kratter, Park’s daughter, echoed Park’s sentiments by expressing her joy in creating a short film supporting health care professionals and bringing more awareness to the experiences of families during the pandemic.
“It was really fun doing something that’s in real life not something that didn’t really happen,” Kratter shared. “It just shows a story that might happen in real life, and I like that. I really enjoyed making this short film and there were some touching and funny moments, and I really hope you all enjoyed it.”
Since the surge in anti-Asian discrimination, many have turned toward varied means of resisting discriminatory acts and raising their voices. Several social media campaigns such as #RacismIsAVirus and #Washthehate have garnered a groundswell of support in calling out discriminatory incidents.
Discussing the medium of film, Park shared how film can be powerful in sparking dialogue among those who might be initially “defensive” about or “resistant” to a particular message and different perspective.
“ I’ve noticed that like, even if you show what happens in a video, people are still kind of resistant to seeing the message behind it and they get very defensive or they just tune out…I thought maybe a little short film that portrays the message that I want to put across will be a bit more effective and people can really sympathize with the characters in what they’re going through when they watch a film, and that’s the reason why I thought film would be very effective.”
Reflecting on advocacy against Asian hate crimes, Park emphasized the importance of speaking out and the diverse ways people can amplify their voices rather than dismissing discrimination or “turning the other cheek”.
“I feel like we just all need to express ourselves more in the way that each person’s comfortable doing,” Park said. “ So if someone is a writer, write more, write to the editor. If someone is an artist, you know, incorporate your activism into your art. And if someone doesn’t want to be an activist at all, just be who you are, but don’t let things slide. Don’t let people get away with being racist or unfair. Speak up in your own way.”
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