Wet Sand: Voices from L.A.
Directed by Dai Sil Kim-Gibson
Presented by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs as part of the Meyer and Renee Luskin Lecture Series
For aficionados of Asian Pacific American cinema, Dai Sil Kim-Gibson’s SA-I-GU remains the quintessential visual essay articulating the raw emotions of race relations resulting from the 1992 Rodney King beating verdicts and the Los Angeles Rebellion. In comparison, WET SAND: VOICES FROM L.A. TEN YEARS LATER is relatively little-seen beyond educational and human rights circles. Yet this expansive follow-up — more of a “check-in” than a sequel — reveals a Los Angeles struggling to recover and re-invent itself a decade after — The “Rebellion”? The “Civil Unrest”? The “Uprising”? The “Riots”? Those who reference it are in sharp disagreement as to what it actually was. All can agree, though, that the causes are rooted in a fundamental disrespect for communities of color by the largely white social power structure. It is this inequity that director Kim-Gibson and longtime cinematographer and producing colleague Charles Burnett (director of the classic KILLER OF SHEEP, 1977) aim to get to the bottom of.
Bracketed by a revisit with Jung Hui Lee, whose slain teenage son Eddie proved to be a cause célèbre of the Los Angeles Rebellion and whose grave is lovingly maintained by his mother, WET SAND goes well beyond the Korean American community to disprove the characterization of The Rebellion as a conflict between Korean Americans and African Americans. A litany of voices, from real estate developers, community activists, small business owners, journalists, politicians, and Angelenos of various social, economic and racial backgrounds sound off on disturbingly familiar themes: lack of equitable opportunities in employment, housing, education; scant chance of social upward mobility; and persecution by a militaristic, predatory, abusive police force. Director Kim-Gibson is crystal-clear in whom she blames for the conditions that precipitated the Rebellion. So too is her conviction that in the diverse voices she spotlights, there exists the chance for cross-cultural unity — a key ingredient for addressing the ingrained social problems that threaten to ignite another Rebellion. As evidenced by recent events in Baltimore, MD, Ferguson, MO, Brooklyn, NY, and too many other places to mention, another Rebellion is ready to go off in the City of Angels. Will we be able or willing to head it off at the pass?
— Abraham Ferrer
The screening is followed by
Panel: The Lessons of WET SAND and the Challenges of Re-Imagining Community
Twenty-five years on, what does Los Angeles look like today? What’s changed? What has remained the same? And what can we say that the “healing process” has accomplished? Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, director of WET SAND: VOICES FROM L.A. and her cinematographer and collaborator Charles Burnett will participate in a discussion with local community leaders to assess the successes and challenges we face in moving toward a more culturally, socially, and politically equitable society in post-Rebellion Los Angeles.
Panelists include Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, Charles Burnett, Funmilola Fagbamila, Tani Ikeda, Alison de la Cruz and moderated by Professor Abel Valenzuela
Dai Sil Kim-Gibson is a North Korea born Korean American filmmaker who has lived in three countries—North and South Korea and the US. Her life covers major historical/political events of the 20th century. A former academic with a Ph.D in Religion, she has been an independent filmmaker since 1990 and is known for championing the compelling but neglected issues of human rights, marked by her imprint of humanizing the storytellers and inventive formats.
Producer: Dai Sil Kim-Gibson
Director: Dai Sil Kim-Gibson