Student Report on the Screening of ‘Blurring The Color Line’

By Anjini Mani

On November 30th, 2023, DKU hosted award-winning filmmaker Crystal Kwok to share her film “Blurring the Color Line” (2022). Sponsored by UG Studies and the Humanities Research Center (Freedom Lab, Doc Lab, and co-host SuperDeep), the screening was followed by a Q&A session, and a filmmaker and storyteller salon the next day.

Over 150 students and faculty attended the film screening, packing the DKU theater. The short film captivated and touched the audience in different ways. Through the lens of her own family, Kwok narrates race relations in the United States between Chinese Americans and African Americans living in Augusta, Georgia, in the US South. The period revolves around the Jim Crow era, a period of American history that divided, disadvantaged, and discriminated against African Americans in social and legal systems. Kwok draws these stories to the present, illustrating a progression and a greater understanding connecting two worlds, but also systemic racial oppression left behind in the past proliferating still in our communities. The narrative was hard-hitting and emotional, putting in the light an understudied history, forgotten by our high school textbooks. Coming to terms with an uncomfortable past one would rather not face was difficult but important for the young generation to learn, remember, and most of all, understand the present day.

Students and faculty raised intelligent questions in the Q&A section, with curiosity fueled by a deeply introspective film experience. Many felt connected to different parts of the film within their own lives, sharing their unique experiences with the group. Kwok shared the internal dialogue she had in the course of making the film, explaining how the journey of interviewing and storytelling profoundly molded her own views and perspectives on life and family.

Following the screening and Q&A the next day was a filmmaker and storyteller salon in the water pavilion. In a smaller, more intimate group of students, together with Professor Selina Lai-Henderson, Kwok elaborated further on the filmmaking process, taking students on a deep dive of the art of storytelling. The discussion ranged from the more technical parts of filmmaking to the more human side of sharing lives and experiences in the form of art. Students talked about personal experiences of racism and observations of race relations in their own countries and cultures. The intersection of feminism and race relations was a particularly interesting topic; the group discussed the implications of modern feminism and its connection with the erasure of important stories and perspectives.

A heartfelt thank you to all participants for contributing to meaningful dialogues in this event. We trust that it has ignited discussions, introspection, and curiosity in your lives, as it has in ours. Despite its challenges, acknowledging history is vital – the past shapes the present, and the present shapes the future.