EventsRepresentation Matters: A Japanese Family Restaurant on Screen

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Representation Matters: A Japanese Family Restaurant on Screen

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM


How can representations in media such as documentary films be used to push back against discrimination in our communities? In what ways can they help us to establish a shared language to unpack anti-Asian racism by showcasing positive community relationships?

Koto: The Last Service is a moving short documentary film that offers a soothing balm to anti-Asian racism by showing the care and appreciation that surrounded the Maeda family's Koto Japanese Restaurant. The restaurant provided authentic Japanese food in the small town of Campbell River, BC for nearly 40 years starting in 1980. Set during its final business days while the community said its goodbyes, the film shows that the community and relationships that formed over sushi will last long after the final service.

We'll watch this 15-minute documentary together, and then Joella Cabalu (director and producer of the film) and Kenji Maeda (co-producer, and member of the Maeda family) will be interviewed by John Paul (JP) Catungal. Their conversation will focus on storytelling through the medium of documentary film, and how it can be used to explore and represent the experiences of Asian Canadians while pushing back against discrimination in our communities.

Joella Cabalu is an award winning Filipino Canadian documentary filmmaker based in Vancouver, BC. She is the Director & Producer of Koto: The Last Service, and directed It Runs in the Family, which won the Audience Choice Awards at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival and Vancouver Queer Film Festival and a special jury mention at CAAMFest for the Loni Ding Award for Social Justice Documentary. She is currently developing Nakabingwit: First Comes Love, a feature-length documentary that follows four Filipino Canadians and their white partners as they navigate race and romance against the backdrop of Canadian multiculturalism.

Kenji Maeda is a co-producer of Koto: The Last Service. His experiences are diverse and grounded in his passion for the arts, education, and building community, and influenced by his Uchinanchu heritage. Kenji is currently the Executive Director of the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance; Sessional Instructor at Simon Fraser University; and an arts and culture consultant. Kenji currently sits on the board of Mass Culture, and an alum of the Banff Centre's Cultural Leadership Program. He loves spreadsheets, chewy chocolate chip cookies, and his husband, Alan.

Dr. John Paul (JP) Catungal is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia, where he also serves as Director pro tem of the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program and as founding Academic Co-Lead of the Centre for Asian Canadian Research and Engagement. His research theorizes community organizing and cultural production by ethno-racial, migrant and LGBTQ urban communities in Canada as forms of social and political critiques and as articulations of their visions for more socially just futures. He was co-editor of Filipinos in Canada: Disturbing Invisibility (2012, University of Toronto Press).

This event is presented in partnership with the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, the UBC Asian Canadian and Asian Migration (ACAM) Studies Program, and the Centre for Asian Canadian Research and Engagement (ACRE) at UBC.


This event is part of Uplift Asian, a new programming series at VPL designed to celebrate Asian voices and push back against discrimination.

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Uplift Asian
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