From the importance of bees and urban farming in San Francisco, to exotic fruits and chocolate, the 2nd Annual SF Food and Farm Film Festival showcased 24 documentaries featuring the various aspects of food culture around the world at the Roxie theater last weekend.
The Home Away From Home
A student version of the world’s most watched TV event took place at USF last Friday, and I’m not talking about the Olympics. The Spring Festival Gala is China’s five-hour long variety show that is aired on the eve of the Lunar New Year. This year, it brought in over 700 million viewers according to CNN.
“Just like Christmas evening, the last evening before the new year, families would gather and there’s a big thing called the Spring Festival Gala by [China Central Television], so every family would watch that,” Huiwen Tan said, president of the Chinese Student and Scholar Association. “The show is just like the Olympics. It’s so important.”
A great population of USF’s international Chinese students weren’t able to return home for traditional celebrations, like watching the show with family, so the Chinese Student and Scholar Association organized their own Spring Festival Gala on campus.
Many gathered at McLaren 250 and 251 to take part in the spectacle. The conjoined rooms met their capacity with every chair being occupied by USF community members, and a crowd standing along the sides.
The Gala featured a lineup of performances that showcased Chinese culture and the talents of our Chinese student population. The evening started with singing by four CSSA members, each individually performing a classic and popular Chinese song. A rendition of “Ode to Joy” by a pianist and three violinists followed, and two students dressed in Tang Dynasty garb performed a dance from that era. The dance involved majestic and graceful movements by the male and female performers, and portrayed the ageless story of love and courtship.
Other entertainment included contemporary dancing, an appearance by ASUSF’s Men’s Voices, a hilarious round of charades which required audience member participation, and a magic show from USF law student, Yanan Zhu, who is also a recognized magician in China. Even though Zhu is a student of law, my mind was blown when all his tricks challenged the laws of science. One trick involved an actual bowling ball falling out of a seemingly normal drawing pad which only had the drawing of the ball.
Attendees were able to get a taste of China through performances and some sort of likeness to it in cuisine. According to Tan, Chinese traditionally eat “cha siu bow,” a steamed pork bun, on the new year. Of course the event was catered by Bon Appetit and they attempted their own version of the “cha siu bow,” which looked more like a taco than an actual bun. The closest we got to a Chinese New Year meal was that food was in abundance. Other items that were offered were “siu mai” (chinese dumplings with pork or chicken), potstickers, eggrolls, fruit, brownies, cookies, and chips.
There was even a giving of “hongbao,” which are red envelopes filled with money and given to family and friends. The “hongbao” only had one dollar bills, but the gesture itself was very generous. The celebration was grand and well executed by CSSA. While many Chinese students could not go home, CSSA brought home to them here at USF.
USF is in preparation for its 9th annual Human Rights Film Festival, set to open March 31 through April 2.
The three-day event will be held at the Presentation Theatre in the School of Education. The event is free and open to the general public.
Co-founder of the festival, Susana Kaiser, Ph.D., said the purpose of the festival is for “…people to learn about human rights abuses and the many initiatives to denounce and stop them, and that they take action and contribute to make this a better world.” Kaiser is also an associate professor for Media Studies and Latin American Studies, and chair of the Latin American Studies Program.
According to Kaiser, people should come to the festival, “Because it’s an amazing opportunity to see excellent films, including an Oscar nominated production, which portrays human rights problems ranging from genocide to environmental pollution, including gender discrimination and LGBT rights.”
This year the festival will showcase nearly a dozen films, some of which are selections from the Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival, and all of which are focused on different countries around the world including Cambodia, El Salvador, Iran, Israel/Palestine, the U.K., and the U.S. The festival will also showcase films produced by USF students.
Kaiser and Mary Zweifel, administrative director of the Masters in International Studies, are organizing this years’ event with help from Kaiser’s Human Rights and Film class.
The festival kicks off at noon on March 31 with opening remarks by Father Privett and short films produced by USF students, followed by the featured films and Q & A sessions.
Kaiser said, “All the screenings are followed by a Q & A session led by the films’ directors/producers and/or experts in the topics addressed by the films. This year, director Peter Bratt will discuss his film La Mission and David Zlutnick will discuss his new film about Israel.”
Among the films included in this year’s lineup is the 2010 film “La Mission,” directed by Peter Bratt. “La Mission” depicts the struggle of a man living in the Mission District of San Francisco, dealing with his own feelings of homosexual prejudice as his son reveals to him that he is gay. The film carries out the resistance to accept and the struggle of conflicting emotion. This film will screen on March 31 at 6 p.m.
A special panel, Social Change and Media- New Tools for Continuing Problems is going to be incorporated into the final night of the festival.
Kaiser said, “The message is that all countries violate the human rights of their citizens. The festival is international and the films selected illustrate human rights issues by focusing on situations and problems from around the world, the U.S. included. The films also teach about actions being taken by individuals, organizations, and institutions. Thus, those who attend become familiar with different initiatives at the local and global level.”
Thursday, March 31
12:00 Opening Remarks
12:30 Shorts by USF Students
1:30 Youth Producing Change
3:00 The Dawn Will Break
4:00 In the Land of the Free
6:00 La Mission
Friday, April 1
4:00 Occupation Has No Future: Militarism + Resistance in Israel/Palestine
6:00 Monseñor: The Last Journeyof Óscar Romero
Saturday, April 2
12:00 Enemies of the People
2:00 Waste Land
6:30 Social Change and Media New Tools for Continuing Problems
7:30 “Nile Revolution 2.0: Egypt’ Youth Uprising,” Ana Mish Fahim (“I Don’t Understand”)
For more info on the films in the festival, please visit http://www.usfca.edu/artsci/hrff/
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-editor: Natalie Cappetta
News Editor: Erica Montes
And finally we’ve arrived at the last issue of the 2009-2010 academic year. It’s been great gabbing about global pop culture with you these past few weeks. To top it all off here are some of San Francisco’s upcoming cultural festivals to check out in between cramming for finals and fantasizing about the soon to come summer-time debauchery…or a responsible summer job if life is cruel to you too. Most of the festivals are free and they’re a great way to get to know San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods like North Beach, the Mission and SOMA. Good luck with finals! In no particular order:
1. San Francisco Carnaval- A celebration of Caribbean, Afro-Fusion and Latin American cultures takes over the city with dancing, food and all day entertainment.
When: May 29/30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: On Saturday the party will be hopp’n on Harrison between 16th and 23rd streets. On Sunday the Grand Parade starts at the corner of 24th and Bryant streets. It will travel west to Mission Street and from there, the parade heads North on Mission down to 17th Street.
2. Buddha’s Birthday Celebration (presented by Buddha’s Light International Association, aka: the BLIA) – In celebration of Buddah’s Birthday there will be ceremonial blessings, vegetarian food, games and more.
When: May 16, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Where: the San Bao Temple of Fo Guang Shan on Van Ness Ave.
3. Bolly Weird Street Fair- This is pro-peace extravaganza/freak show/street party. There’s a promise of 10 stages, each with its own set of musical performers and hopefully a new world record for the largest synchronized Bollywood dance number.
When: May 9
Where: Howard and 2ND Street
4. Cinco De Mayo- Celebrate Cinco De Mayo and the cultural connection between Mexico and San Francisco with performances, crafts and eats.
When: May 5
Where: Dolores Park
5. North Beach Festival – One of the largest outdoor festivals, the North Beach Festival takes over takes over the location famous as San Francisco’s Little Italy and home of the beats. With over 125 craft booths, food and cooking demonstrations, it’s a great way to spend a day. And it’s free!
When: June 19/20, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: North Beach District
Dozens of USF students and staff filled Fromm Hall’s Xavier Chapel to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, on Friday, Feb. 19. The festival was organized by the Chinese Student and Scholar Association to welcome the Year of the Tiger.
Visitors were greeted by a festive atmosphere and a night packed with performances and interactive activities. Slotted in among the many performances were a Chinese comic dialogue, musical performances, and a scene from a Chinese legend acted out as a romantic comedy by members of the Chinese Association. Festival attendees participated in a game of name-that-tune and a poetry competition.
Though 2010 officially began on Feb. 14 by the Chinese lunar calendar, the Chinese Association’s festival fell on the sixth day of the 15-day celebration, which culminates in the Lantern Festival. Throughout the evening, the audience was regaled with the origins and traditions of the Chinese New Year.
“The beginning of the Chinese New Year started with the fight against the beast Nien,” the emcee said. According to legend, she explained, Nien would pillage and destroy the villages, killing children and wrecking crops and livestock. After the monster had its fill, it would not return until the start of the next lunar year.
One year, some villagers noticed Nien fleeing from a child dressed in red. From this myth, the tradition of dressing and decorating in red and using firecrackers to celebrate the New Year was born: to keep the monster away.
Though traditions vary regionally, emphasis is placed on community and togetherness. The sharing of food, usually dumplings or rice cakes, and gift giving are both common practices throughout the Chinese community. The Chinese Association’s festival was no different, treating guests to a Chinese dinner and even asking guests to sport name tags to promote conversation. They served their purpose, as there was hardly a silence during the night. A low murmur of chatter punctuated every presentation and camera flashes bounced off of the bright walls of the room as students photographed their friends on stage.
Yue Song, the President of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, was pleased with the vibrant atmosphere of the festival after logging hours of work in the run-up to the celebration.
“We’ve spent a lot of time preparing. Last week, most of the performers were only getting five hours of sleep a night,” he said. “The celebration for the Chinese New Year is for China what Christmas is for the Western cultures,” a comparison that was made time and again. “It is the most important holiday for Chinese people,” Song reiterated.
Song was also impressed by the high level of attendance, joking that most friends “came for the Chinese food.” Song may have been on target with this, as students and faculty alike wandered from Xavier Chapel and into the foyer, finally retiring to the floor with plates buckling under the weight of dumplings and rice.
The majority of attendees, however, were Chinese students, highlighting the booming population of Chinese international students at USF. According to Song, Chinese students make up the largest chunk of the university’s pool of international students, roughly 250 strong.
For Song and the Chinese Association, the support of this student community by USF, a university renowned for its diversity, was very important to the success of the festival, which was the second of its kind in the past three years. Just as important was the support of the university’s president and figurehead, Father Stephen Privett, who was in attendance.
“USF has a large Chinese population, and it’s important to show them how much we appreciate them and how valued their culture is,” Privett said.
Song stressed that the event was not just an event for the Chinese community, pointing out the elements of other cultures in the festival and its modern undertones. Beyond its more traditional aspects, the program featured an appearance by the USF Hawaiian ensemble, a classical piano performance, and a jazz dance choreographed to the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.”
Senior Lina Calderón-Morin seconded this sentiment, arguing that this recognition of Chinese culture was tantamount to the appreciation of difference as a whole.
“I love Chinese New Year because it’s a celebration of life not just for the Chinese community, but a time when we can share and enjoy the rich diversity of our city and University,” Calderón-Morin said.
The event was co-sponsored by the Center for the Pacific Rim, International Relations, and the Chinese program.
On Saturday Oct. 3, hundreds of USF students took to the streets in route to the sixth annual San Francisco love festival, this year entitled “LoveEvolution.” The festival has developed quite the reputation during its tenure in the city, and this year didn’t disappoint. However, some aspects of the festival, specifically changes from last year, have caused controversy among the USF student body.
LovEvolution is essentially a citywide rave, featuring techno and electronica music and is, allegedly, a celebration of love, peace, and human unity. The festival begins as a parade up Market Street and ends in the Civic Center Plaza, with the party starting in front of City Hall. In the past, it was always called “San Francisco Love Fest,” and was inspired by a love festival in Berlin. This year the name was changed to LovEvolution due to conflicts with an event in Los Angeles called “The Love Festival.”
The name change didn’t hurt USF student interest; however, the change in admission cost did. Previously, the festival was always free, with a suggested donation, but its continued growth resulted in the implementation of a ten-dollar entrance fee. This fee was meant to aid in security costs, but some USF students are skeptical. Freshmen Maria Palma wasn’t happy about the fee; “I don’t think that the ten-dollar fee was worth it for LovEvolution. It felt more like the ten dollars they were asking for was just a cop out to get extra money.” Other students, like Sophomore Cayden Berkmoyer, thought the chance to dance all day and enjoy the festival’s energy was entirely worth the sacrificial ten bucks.
Berkmoyer describes LovEvolution as a, “quintessentially San Francisco event, harkening back to the days of peace, love, drugs, and rock-n-roll.” He pauses, though, to re-iterate, “I suppose the rock-n-roll is now electronica.” In walking around the festival, a few things become increasingly evident. The first is the level of intoxication of the people in the crowd. By mid-afternoon plenty of hard partiers are out cold, passed out facedown on the pavement, or in the first aid tent. Security guards circle around the various parade floats and dance floors, coming to the rescue of those who have had a little (or a lot) too much to drink. This is not to say that LovEvolution is an unsafe event, though. Alcohol policies are strictly enforced within the walls of the festival, and no one can purchase drinks without an ID verifying their legality. Bags, however, are not thoroughly searched, so some minors do manage to sneak illegal substances in. Freshman Alison Janigian is critical of the festival, claiming that it is simply an excuse for underage girls to, “dress slutty and drink their troubles away.”
Another aspect of the festival unique to LovEvolution is the level of nudity amongst the crowd. People of all ages let their inhibitions go… as well as their clothing. Freshman Ashby Conwell, found the lack of clothing liberating, “There was a lot of nudity but it didn’t feel sexual, it just felt free.” Many other USF students agreed with Conwell, agreeing that LovEvolution is more about a celebration of the human body, rather than degradation.
Every year many USF students put together extravagant costumes for the festival, and this year brought costume making to a brand new level. With the tight economy, many students didn’t have the funds to buy their outfits and stuck to good old fashion arts and crafts. Conwell and her friends wore pre-owned brightly colored clothing and completed their costumes with body paint. Berkmoyer said he wore, “A baby blue long sleeve shirt, multi-colored 80’s shorts, matching sunglasses and glitter. Lot’s of glitter.” Though he thought his outfit was outrageous, it was nothing compared to some of the others, he said. There were people wearing thongs made of feathers, others dressed in full fairy garb, and still others in leather chaps and go-go boots. After a few hours, the dance floor consisted primarily of body paint and sweat.
For some, LovEvolution was a huge success. Freshman Ryan Laursen said the event gave him “really good vibes” and he plans to attend next year. While Palma and Janigian both found the festival to be too focused on drugs, and less about love. At the end of the day, swarms of USF students fought for a space on packed muni buses or braved the wind and cold as they walked back to campus. Some attended after parties, others immediately went to bed, and almost everyone had some sort of crazy story to tell about LovEvolution 2009.