Now, I did this knowing that I'd lost the VGA adaptor for my laptop back in DC, and that without the DVD I basically had no way to show the film again until I got home. And a little voice in the back of my head said 'you know, it's really not a great idea to give away your last DVD like that'... but hey, I was done, right? So out of my bag it went, into her waiting hands. We said goodnight, and I went back to Hermosa Beach with my friend Lela, and she -- and the DVD -- went back to her house in Studio City. (For those of you who don't know LA -- these two places are in opposite directions from UCLA, about an hour apart.)
Then I woke up the next morning, and realized just how truly idiotic I had been. I had a large fundraising screening planned for Sunday. In 24 hours. And I now had no film to show.
Luckily, I was with the unflappable Lela, who spent the rest of the day letting me use her phone and driving me all over Los Angeles to retrieve the DVD. She even came with me to a Doculink party, which was really fun. (There were WAY more people than Vancouver's small and somewhat dysfunctional Doculink community ever gets together, and I even got to salsa dance with a persistent Latin sound guy whose name I didn't catch. And I finally met fellow doc filmmaker Jonathan Skurnik, in person -- who offered to lend me his VGA adaptor. Bless his heart.)
So by Sunday morning, I was set. Keith Camacho, Prof. of Asian American studies at UCLA, originally from Guam and a long-time advisor to this project, picked me up with his lovely partner Julianne and drove me down to Long Beach. We got there late, and people were already showing up -- groups of people, people with kids, teenagers, folks wearing Kutturan Chamoru t-shirts... I was the only haole in the room, and I started having a vague feeling that I had suddenly landed, just like that, back on Guam.
Pita Taase, head of the CSULB Pacific Islanders Association, had some of his students there to help us, and we managed to get people fed and to start the film only about 1/2 an hour late. (Which is prompt, if you're on island time.) It was unfortunately a little hard to see the screen -- the room, which was otherwise perfect, had a big window at the back, and of course the LA sun was shining -- so I think the audience didn't get the best viewing experience... but overall, they really seemed to like it.
There were a lot of questions afterwards -- but almost always prefaced by a thank you. One guy expressed how deeply validating it was to see his people up on the big screen. And after the Q&A, people kept coming up to me with money, stuffing it into the envelope Pita had provided for donations, and telling me how much they enjoyed the film.
Pita was great, and I owe him and his students (seen here eating Nachos) a deep debt of gratitude for their help. I have to give a special shout-out to Keith, too. He introduced the film (AND supplied most of the food, AND drove me all over LA, AND fed me dinner), and he helped to start off the Q&A afterwards, with some incisive and thought-provoking comments. I met Keith back when he was a grad student, seven years ago when I was just beginning this film -- and it was fun and deeply satisfying to see him, now an esteemed professor, leading a discussion (with some serious authority -- that man can SPEAK) about a film that is now, basically, done.
With about 40 people in the audience, we ended up raising almost $700, which was more than I had hoped for -- and enough to pay for the cost of my trips to DC and LA. I got some very valuable feedback, saw some old friends (like my dear friends Kathy and Jonathan, who also housed and fed me and schlepped me all over LA), and most importantly I made new connections with people that are interested in seeing this film get out into the world. Now that I'm back home again, it's time to hunker down and finish the home stretch!