Oregon State University student Daisy Truong is being featured in the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon with her film “I Am, But I Am Not” this month.
DisOrient is a non-profit independent film festival that seeks to feature and highlight films created by Asian Pacific American filmmakers with a focus on social justice. The 2021 festival will include 46 films and is being held virtually this year to comply with COVID-19 gathering guidelines.
Truong, a fifth-year digital communication arts and photography major and peer facilitator for the Asian and Pacific Cultural Center, is having the pilot episode of her documentary series featured at the festival.
“In this episode, I talk about my own experiences with anti-Asian sentiment during COVID-19 as well as addressing how I see anti-Blackness in the [Asian] community,” Truong said.
Truong’s overall goal with the film is to educate audiences about the broad identities within the Asian-American community and touch on social justice issues that affect the Asian-American demographic. This includes hate crimes that target Asian-American individuals, specifically during the pandemic.
“I wanted to acknowledge the fact that violence against Asian Americans has risen by 1,900% with more than 3,000 reported incidents since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Truong said.
Truong noted that anti-Asian sentiments are not new, and this is something she wanted to address in her documentary. On top of exploring anti-Blackness within the Asian community, she said she would like to explore how Asian-Americans are often forgotten in conversations concerning People of Color because the community is often seen as more privileged than other racial and ethnic groups.
The film also touches on the diversity within Asian-American communities. Truong herself is first-generation and as someone who is half-Vietnamese and half-Chinese, considers herself multiethnic.
“I think that that part of my identity is part of the reason why I started this documentary,” Truong said.
Truong was also inspired by her coworkers at the APCC when she noticed how diverse their identities were. To express this in her film, she hopes to interview people with intersecting Asian identities, such as those who are first-generation, Asian adoptees and international students, in future episodes.
The path to “I Am, But I Am Not” began with Truong’s involvement with the Asian Pacific American Student Union. The club inspired her to apply for a job at the APCC, and the job ultimately led her to create a film on these topics.
“That job definitely inspired [the film],” Truong said.
Truong has never seen herself as a filmmaker, and she said her film being selected for the DisOrient festival was “pure luck.” While taking a documentary class at OSU last term, she started work on the film as part of a course project. Her supervisor at the time at the APCC, Reagan Le, is the one who encouraged her to submit the episode to the festival, and her co-worker, Jonathan Ganal, also had major contributions in helping Truong film and edit.
DisOrient festival passes are available now. Truong’s film will be available to watch from March 19 to March 29, and she will also be featured in a panel discussion about the role of Asian and Pacific Islander filmmakers in supporting Black Lives Matter on March 21 at 3 p.m.
Truong will be continuing to make more episodes for her film over a year. She hopes to have at least four episodes completed in time for May, which is Asian Heritage Month.
DisOrient, Truong said, is important for showing films like hers and others which focus on Asian-American identity and diversity. Additionally, because there is a lack of representation of Asian individuals in the entertainment industry, she noted, DisOrient provides opportunities for the Asian-American community to feature their work.
Truong said, “This film festival showcases that there is that diversity and that Asians are diverse in multiple aspects. […] Not just our identity, but in terms of roles in media.”