One man's story of growing up mixed-Japanese in rural Canada.
funny how you can think you know a lot about a subject then all of a
sudden something pops into to view that makes you look at things in a
completely different way. This is just how I felt when I stumbled across
the work of Jeff
Chiba Stearns, a Canadian animator using his inimitable talent to
explore issues of culture and identity.
His short film Yellow Sticky Notes
(2007) seen here, is a reflection of this tunnel vision. When you are
slave to your own productivity devices, to-do lists and buckets you
become oblvious to the bigger picture. Jeff's classically animated
traditional film was hand drawn with black pen on over 2300 yellow
Yellow Sticky Notes
is winner of 11 awards
including the Prix du Public Labo at the 2009 Clermont-Ferrand Short
Film Festival, 2009 Best Animated Short at the Beloit and Victoria
Int. Film Festivals, 2008 CAEAA for Best Animated Short Subject, Best
Animated Short Film at the Calgary International Film Festival, and
Golden Sheaf for Best Animation. The film also qualified for the
2009 Genie Awards under the category of Best Short Animation.
notes he gives us an insight into the painstaking process of
combining fresh illustration and stream-of-conciousness with to-do lists
he had compiled over 9 years of trying to get his animation career of
the ground. Perhaps unwittingly during that time Jeff has also become a
champion for multiracial issues, having lectured around the world on
topics of identity, cultural awareness, filmmaking, and animation.
His short film What are you
anyways?, winner of the 2006 ELAN for Best Animated Short Subject,
expands upon the themes of growing up half Japanese, half Euro Mutt (his
words) in rural Canada. As the father of two Hapa (mixed Japanese kids)
I was encouraged by the sensitivity and courageous style Jeff employed
in telling his story of growing up. When my kids are old enough to be
conscious of their differences from other kids his film will be required
Jeff is now working on a feature length documentary
Big Hapa Family, about children of mixed Japanese decent and the
high Japanese-Canadian interracial marriage rate. On his mother's
Japanese side of the family her six sisters married white men, much to
his grandfather's chagrin. I expect bigs things from Jeff, and from the
comments on his
Facebook page I suspect so do his followers.
Do you belong to
the One Big Hapa Family? How do you broach these topics of culture and
and identity with your kids? Please watch some of Jeff's short films and
share how you feel about them in the comments.
Thanks for following, I really appreciate your time here.