week 12

I really appreciated how this week’s lecture delved into the historical context of colonialism and coloniality — as well as how it distinguished between the two terms. Out of this week’s readings, Smoke That Travels resonated the most with me. It was impressive to see how such a short film could have such a strong message — especially one produced by a teenager, without decades of experience in filmmaking to ground her work. I think the film’s intimacy, being centered around her father, her people, her language, really increased the impact of the content. Hearing how there are less than 10 speakers left carrying their language, I could imagine the desperation to keep it alive, as if it were my own language and history. The film mentions how there is no way to keep the “true” Prairie Band Potawatomi heritage alive, because the people left cannot really live as their ancestors did. I could imagine this expanding onto the language — like in a bottleneck event that critically endangers a community in genetic terms. When each person is so deeply important to the survival of a language, their linguistic quirks or memory gaps can quickly mutate the language. While digesting the film, I kept thinking of the psychological weight of carrying a language. Living in the US, I’m obviously immersed in English, to the point that most days I speak it better than my own native language. It takes time and energy to switch my brain back to Portuguese, and each time I slip up in some way — translate something literally from English, or completely forget a word — I feel a sense of inadequacy, even shame. But I don’t have to work to keep Portuguese alive; it’s spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Beyond the burden of language, another thing that struck me about the movie was the comparison of reservations to concentration camps. It can be a shocking thing to hear at first — having studied World War II in a lot more detail than the genocide of Native Americans, I recognized that as a basic instinct to avoid comparing anything to the Holocaust. But pushing past that gut reaction, I can definitely see how the comparison makes sense: reservations were meant to contain, condense, confine people based on their perceived otherness. The mention of alcoholism and suicide being rampant in the communities is something I have heard many times before, and it wasn’t until recently that I really connected that to the trauma spanning so many generations. Traumatized parents can easily raise traumatized children; especially when they are continuously grieving a community and way of life constantly in danger of disappearing. Without support, how could they be expected to heal on their own? 

Beyond the readings and lecture, this week I did quite a lot of work towards the final project. I spent a few hours reading comments from VisaJourney’s K-1 to AOS filers — meaning the people who have already gotten married after receiving the K-1 fiance visa, and are now applying for their actual green card. I realized this was the best route for my plan, since I wanted to film the couples together, meaning they had to have already been approved for the K-1 visa to be living in the US together. The K-1 forums on VisaJourney tended to focus on the path leading up to the visa; there is no bureaucratic process in between that and the AOS. I think this worked out for the best, though, since it creates a unique opportunity for this parody show to fit into the 90DF universe — in between the original show and 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?, which tends to follow couples years after their marriage rather than in the immediate aftermath. I can picture the title card as 90 Day Fiancé: Adjustment of Status (or something like that) following the same sound effects and transitions as the original show. In compiling comments, I tried to find a wide variety of paperwork issues — USPS delays, health insurance snafus, and so on — and give my volunteers some options for which script they’d like to take on. I filmed two scenes this weekend, and will do the third in the next few days, so that I have time to edit at the end of the week. Filming has been a lot of fun so far, and easier than I was expecting. I’m particularly excited about the challenge of editing it as faithfully as possible (especially now that I have learned some After Effects thanks to our Visual Design class — it actually feels a lot more doable). I’m also really looking forward to seeing other people’s projects on our last day of class!

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