Posted in *Recommended, Documentary, Reviews

Review: One Big Hapa Family [Recommended]

One Big Hapa Family | facebook
directed & written by Jeff Chiba Stearns

I originally saw this at Montreal’s Amerasia film festival about a month ago.  I had meant to write a review earlier but I wanted to watch the extended director’s cut of the documentary that is featured on the dvd which I bought from Jeff himself who was present at the screening.  In short, the documentary which was 4 years in the making was a personal journey for Jeff who wanted to know why everyone after his grandparents’ generation married non-Japanese.

My initial impression of the shorter version shown at Amerasia was quite positive.  I didn’t really have any expectations but it was better than I anticipated.  There were some interesting facts and genuine laughs.  Animation was interlaced with personal stories very well.  I being fairly uneducated on the matter discovered some interesting stories about the Japanese Canadian internment camps during World War 2 due to this documentary.  He talks to various members of the older generation about how they felt about interracial marriage and why they think it became so frequent in the Japanese Canadian community.

The focus then shifts to the younger generation and the inevitable “What are you?” question that mixed people or really anybody who is a “visible minority” gets asked.  I may be incorrect about certain differences between the shorter version and the longer one but one part which is definitely covered more in the longer version is this “What are you?” question which Jeff poses to more of his younger siblings and cousins of varying ages.  The longer director’s cut also seemed to give us more detail about the conditions that interned Japanese Canadians lived in as well as Jeff exploring the meaning of the word “Hapa” a bit more and his experience in Japan.

The DVD is available for purchase and includes a CD soundtrack.  It is definitely a recommended purchase for the extended 84 minute director’s cut.



Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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