BY-STANDING: THE BEGINNING OF AN AMERICAN LIFETIME




05:00 min
Spoken Word
Director: Karen Lin
Producer: Karin Chien

Winner of the WAR AND PEACE AWARD

ABOUT THE FILM

About BY-STANDING: THE BEGINNING OF AN AMERICAN LIFETIME from Director Karen Lin

BY-STANDING is the collision of two worlds I know: my creative work as a writer/director and my experience as a music video producer. When I first saw Kelly Tsai live, her fierce performance inspired the idea to fuse the visual dynamics of the music video format with the explosive delivery style of spoken word poetry.

The idea posed two interesting challenges - it hadn’t been done before, and poetry wasn’t typically a performance or visually driven art form. As I began to really sit with the poem I knew pretty quickly that the video needed a big city backdrop. There are direct references to 9/11, but the majority of the poem actually takes place in the artist’s hometown of Chicago. Her experiences as captured in her poetry, however, are universal, and I wanted to convey that through the quintessential American urban landscape - the crowds, the people young and old, the buildings and the bustling street life and energy that, for me, could only be New York City.

In planning for the shoot on the streets of New York City, I was particularly interested in capturing portraits of people, as inspired by the gorgeous photography in Mark Romanek’s “99 Problems” video for Jay-Z.  Real people, real life.  And, I knew finishing in black & white would give the piece a timelessness and classic finish, while addressing the limitations of the mini DV format in daylight exteriors.

About BY-STANDING: THE BEGINNING OF AN AMERICAN LIFETIME from Spoken Word Artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

In 2003, I was asked to perform at the Not In Our Name Rally in Chicago, which over 4000 people ultimately attended. I felt moved and compelled to write a poem at the most human level that spoke to the existence of war throughout our lives even in times of so-called peace. My hope was for us to tear ourselves away from polemics and rhetoric to understand at the fundamental level that war affects us all. To understand that for every person that suffers at our hands, whether near or far, we all bear the consequences as we deprive each other and ourselves from the essential human right to peace that gives us the opportunity to live our lives however we choose. Unfortunately nearly four years later, the message is still relevant today as we continue to face the same problems.

RELATED CATEGORIES

economic justice, family & society, human rights, immigration, international, media, politics / government, racial justice, religious freedom, Media That Matters 7,
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