Renee Tajima-Pena2004

The films of Renee Tajima-Pena rest on the assumption that memory is malleable and truth fluid. A gifted storyteller with an activist's mind and a wonderful sense of humor, she turns conventions of American entertainment the murder story, the family reunion, the road trip into lapidary, multi-textual, primarily feature length works that amalgamate fiction and documentary traditions. Whether she is on the trail of scandal and intrigue, following her husband and brother-in-law back to their family home to El Valle, the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, combining individual narrative with social analysis in the portrait of a Vietnamese meatpacker in Kansas City, or moving between parody and lamentation taking contemporary skateboard culture to Manzanar, the World War II internment camp for Japanese-Americans, Tajima-Pena thickens political discourse by means of the personal story. And that's a story filled not only by emotion, dreams, and memory but by the imprint of culture be it war, race, economic exploitation or sexual inequality.
"There's a tension in my work between anger and sentimentality, ideology and form and the difficulty of articulating the experiences of a marginalized group, with its particularities and minutiae, for a mainstream audience. When I first began making films, I felt my greatest stylistic challenge was dealing with the uneven baseline of cultural reference points between Asian and non-Asian viewers. How does one disrupt the center, and realign the notion of universality?"