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2016 Seattle Asian American Film Festival

Interview with Ian Devier, Director of Enfu

Posted February 15th, 2016 by shaunmejia in 2016 Festival

Enfu at SAAFF2016

Enfu at SAAFF2016

You may be unfamiliar with the name ENFU, but if you live in Seattle, you have seen Ken “ENFU” Taya’s commissioned murals and illustrations scattered across the International District in restaurants and stores like Uwajimaya. Growing up between the US and Japan, his colorful and distinct art style reflects a blend of both cultures that’s won praise all over the world. In the documentary ENFU, director Ian Devier explores Taya’s cultural identity and his artistic style evolution. We got a chance to talk to Devier.

1. What do you think is missing from current representation of Asian American’s in media?

It’s a hard subject for me to comment on, being a white privileged male.  The one thing I notice that is missing is very similar to all people of color, which is perspective and focus.  It’s rare to get a film be it a documentary or fiction that is truly from an Asian American perspective and the main character isn’t some form of a white savior.

2. Who are your influences?

My influences vary from decade to decade and I am constantly discovering new ones.  To name just a few there were handful of teachers that I had who’s lessons I still reflect on and still keep in contact with.  I would also add the films of Frederick Wiseman, the stories of Charles Kuralt and Ray Farkas, as well as visual styles of storytelling such as the films of Wong Kar-wai.  I also find a lot of inspiration in still photography, radio/podcast storytelling, and of course books both print and graphic novel/comic.

3. How did you come up with your concept?
The concept of ENFU first follows the mission of the series it is a part of which is Community Stories on the Seattle Channel,seattlechannel.org/communitystories.  That mission is to share the perspective of underserved communities in Seattle.  I also talked with Ken a lot before and during about where to go with the story and what was important.
4. I know the documentary discusses this, but why do you think Ken Taya’s work speaks to generations of Asian Americans?
The perspective that was shared with me is that his themes speak to younger Asian Americans as well as older.  Especially the work where has was doing cultural mash ups between American and Japanese pop culture be it video games, commercial products,or animation,.  His other work such as the murals and the Uwajimaya shopping bags really touch on the things that connect many Asian American cultures and people.  Also his work is really well done, it’s beautiful to look at, and it’s fun.
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