LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--El Monte, an animated short film depicting the true-life harrowing story of 72 Thai laborers who were held captive and forced to work 18-hour days for many years in a Southern California sweatshop, has been selected for screening at the 28th annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian American and Asian international cinema. The 28th annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival runs May 10-20 at the Directors Guild of America, CGV Cinemas and additional venues throughout Los Angeles.
Produced by Harvard Westlake honors student, Elaine Tang, 17, El Monte will be screened on Saturday, May 12 at 12:30 p.m. at the CGV Cinemas located at 621 South Western Avenue in Los Angeles’ Koreatown.
Tang, who is fluent in English, Chinese and French and also excels in the arts, was working as a volunteer at APALC (Asian Pacific American Legal Center), when she first became aware of the plight of the Thai immigrants.
“When I learned of these Thai immigrants – making the difficult decision to leave their families in pursuit of a better life; their imprisonment in what can only be described as a labor camp; and the generosity of community advocates and lawyers who fought for them – I was filled with emotion,” said Tang. “I knew in that instant that I needed to make more people aware of this story as well as of the challenges faced by so many Asian American immigrants in pursuit of the American dream and the incredible role that the APALC plays in this process.”
Wanting to capture the tragic and compelling experiences of people like the El Monte sweatshop workers and demonstrate APALC’s role in the community to young people and those new to the legal center, Tang decided to create an animated short feature film.
“I knew that the costs would be astronomical in Los Angeles, so I approached the leading animation company in Beijing, Xing Xing Digital, to take on the project pro bono,” said Tang.
After several meetings with Xing Xing Digital CEO Lifeng Wang, during which Tang expressed the urgency to help protect Asian Americans so that further injustices could be prevented, Wang agreed to help Tang with her project. In June 2011, she reported for her summer internship with Xing Xing in Beijing while also studying advanced Chinese at Peking University.
Spending her mornings in class and her afternoons interning at the Xing Xing animation studio, Tang was not only learning the animation process, she was also translating technical cinematic terms while also explaining the significance of the El Monte story to her production team who only spoke Chinese. Tang and her team created the storyboards, contacted the actual garment workers from the El Monte case to do the voice-overs, and produced the short animation recounting the El Monte story.
Says Tang, “Through this film, I hope to give a voice to those previously unheard and to inspire all to uphold justice.”
About El Monte
El Monte, an animated short, depicts APALC’s advocacy on immigrant workers’ rights through the journey of Thai women who were enslaved as garment workers at a sweatshop in El Monte in 1995. APALC, along with its community partners, secured the release of the 72 Thai workers who were imprisoned behind razor wire and watched by armed guards. They were forced to work up to 18 hours daily under deplorable work conditions and paid less than a dollar an hour. With APALC’s assistance, the Thai workers joined with 22 Latinos who co-labored in a downtown front shop and brought a ground-breaking lawsuit which resulted in a favorable settlement and more importantly, a key ruling on corporate responsibility in the garment industry. The workers became strong advocates for workers’ rights and helped pave the way for the strongest anti-sweatshop legislation in the country. APALC assisted them in securing their legal status and by 2008, dozens of the El Monte workers became citizens and celebrated their long journey in making America, a country that they challenged to live up to its ideals, their permanent home.
About the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
The 28th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival will be presented May 10 – May 20, 2012 at the Directors Guild of America; CGV Cinemas; and additional venues throughout Los Angeles. A key highlight of the month-long Asian Pacific Heritage Month activities, the Film Festival is produced by Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center.
Since 1983, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival has presented over 3000 films and videos by Asian international and Asian American artists, and additionally features seminars and panels, in-person guest appearances, and filmmaker awards. The Film Festival continues to be the largest festival of its kind in Southern California and is the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian American and Asian international cinema.
For tickets to the El Monte screening or for more information about the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, please visit http://asianfilmfestla.org/2012/. Become a Film Festival Fan on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/AsianFilmFestLA and follow the Festival on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/asianfilmfestla.