VC to Honor Doug Aihara, Renee Tajima-Peña

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“Past//Forward” is Visual Communications’ series of signature events to celebrate the organization’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

The goal is to celebrate VC’s past, present, and future by (re)connecting with people and communities who made great things happen.

Founded in 1970 with the understanding that media and the arts are powerful forms of storytelling, VC has dedicated five decades to creating cross-cultural connections between peoples and generations through the media arts. While VC’s mission and programming have shifted to meet the changing needs of diverse communities, the organization always had a constant element — a group of people passionate about social and cultural change through the arts.

In conjunction with VC’s Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the “Past//Forward: Coming Home” gala will be held on Saturday, May 12, from 6 to 11:30 p.m. at USC Town & Gown Ballroom, 665 Exposition Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Doug Aihara will receive the Cornerstone Award as an organizational builder who has carried forward the VC founders’ spirit and determination.

VC will recognize Comcast NBCUniversal with the Influencer Award as a partner who has been a catalyst in developing and supporting artists and creative communities who continue to shift the narrative.

Filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña (“Who Killed Vincent Chin,” “No Más Bebés”) will be honored with the quintessential Past//Forward Award as an artist, storyteller, and educator who has paved a path for herself and for others to follow.

Individual tickets are $250. For reservations, click here.

“When I entered the USC Cinema Department in the ’70s, there were no films made by or about Asian Americans, and it wasn’t until I enrolled in a Japanese American history class that I discovered ‘Wataridori: Birds of Passage,’ a beautifully directed documentary about Japanese immigrants produced by Visual Communications,” said Janice D. Tanaka, a member of the 2018 Gala Committee. “The moment I saw this film I was inspired to tell my stories from my point of view. VC proved to be the only local organization to encourage and support this work.

“In 1980, VC produced the first Asian American feature film called ‘Hito Hata,’ starring Mako. The thought that we could take on an important message about immigration, social justice and gentrification in one film was extraordinary. What was even more empowering is that many of you came forward with donations to complete the film.

“During the ’80s, much of VC’s funding was cut, but due to the perseverance and vision of then-Executive Director Linda Mabalot, the organization survived and emerged to be a prestigious media arts institution. From the first Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival that VC organized in 1983 to today, many directors have been showcased in the Festival, including Academy Award winner Chris Tashima, A-List director Justin Lin, Emmy nominee Renee Tajima-Peña, documentarian Grace Lee, and up-and-coming director Justin Chon. These artists have emerged as pre-eminent film and television directors of our time.

“I am also thrilled to share that the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is now an Academy Award-qualifying festival for the Short Film Awards. In addition to the Festival, Visual Communications continues to support emerging artists through Armed with a Camera, C3 Conference, and Digital Histories.

“VC has certainly come a long way, but the work cannot continue without your help. The dream is for Visual Communications to ultimately be the organization to produce the first best picture Oscar winner featuring an Asian American director and cast.

“Please join me in supporting Visual Communications over the next three years and beyond so this dream can come true.”

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