'Hmong Voices' film festival premiers today in Sacramento

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sacramento's first ever "Hmong Voices" film festival -- produced by 25 Hmong teens -- premieres at 5:30 p.m. today in the Florin Creek Recreation Center, 7460 Persimmon Avenue.

The public is invited to the event hosted by the Center for Multicultural Cooperation and supported by the Sacramento City Unified School District and the Sacramento Region Community Foundation.

The free event features seven short films made this summer by students at Hiram Johnson and Luther Burbank high schools, said program coordinator Stephanie Xiong.

"They highlight the Hmong history of their journey from Laos to America and their contribution since they've been here in their new home," Xiong said.

Themes include the "Secret War" in Laos, the refugee camps in Thailand, immigration to California's Central Valley and integration into American life.

Hmong Voices is an initiative of California Voices designed to mobilize young people to have a greater voice in the digital era while preserving the legacy of elders who have made significant contributions to culture, community, and country, Xiong said.

The program includes the following sagas:

Chong Cha Lor - "Fight for Freedom": Enlisted in the Laos Army at 17 years old, Lor fought with the Americans during the Vietnam war, known to the Hmong as the Secret War.

Lee Yang - "Principal Lee Yang": Immigrating to the United States with his family when he was 10 years old, Yang rose through the educational system to become the first Hmong principal in California history. He is director of Multilingual/Multicultural/Education, Equity, Access & Achievement with Sacramento City Unified School District.

Pa Phang - "The Journey": Highlights Phang's journey as a little girl fleeing the Vietnam war with her family carrying nothing but the clothes on her back. Against all odds she kept up hope, even after witnessing a drowning on the Mekong River.

Soua Moua - "Resistant Fighter": For the sake of her family's safety Moua decided to stay in Laos as a Communist while her husband was imprisoned for helping the Americans. Through those struggles she was able to find a way to come to America.

Keng Long Yang - "Hmoob Qeej": Yang is a recent immigrant to the United States. He has seen that Hmong youth are struggling to keep their traditional ways while living in America, and he offers to teach youth how to play the traditional Hmong Kheane.


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