A Chat with Documentary Filmmaker Anita Chang

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Taiwanese American filmmaker Anita Chang whose latest documentary film, Tongues of Heaven, revolves around the issue of language loss and asks the essential question: “what do you lose when you lose your native language?” Her film explores the challenges of young indigenous peoples of Taiwan and Hawaii in learning the heritage languages of their ancestors — languages that are endangered or facing extinction.

Anita was born to parents who immigrated to America from martial law era Taiwan of the 1960’s. She grew up in Ohio and Massachusetts, and her first language was Taiwanese or Minnanese, which she gradually lost the ability to speak after learning English. Like many Taiwanese Americans, she regretted not maintaining the mother tongue of her parents.

After receiving her BA in American Studies and English at Tufts University, and a MFA in Cinema at San Francisco State University, she worked as a community activist, an urban youth counselor, civil rights investigator, and education director for a non-profit San Francisco-based media literacy organization.

Among her dozen or so films, Anita has produced other excellent works pertinent to the Taiwanese community, most notably 62 Years and 6,500 Miles Between (2005) and Joyful Life (2007). Tongues of Heaven adds an additional dimension and commentary to her exploration of Taiwanese culture, language, and identity.

Watch the interview:

To learn more about Anita, visit: http://anitachangworks.com

Watch Tongues of Heaven trailer: http://youtu.be/sJv1L014uIA


Santa Barbara, California

Thursday, May 8, 2014 @ 6-8pm | TONGUES OF HEAVEN Screening & Talk “Tongues of Heaven: Indigenous Articulations from Taiwan to Hawai’i”
University of California at Santa Barbara, Social Science & Media Studies Conference Room 2135 (free, open to public)
Sponsored by Center for Taiwan Studies, Dept. of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, TECO-LA, UCSB Taiwanese Student Assoc.

Santa Cruz, California

Friday, May 16, 2014 @ 1:30-3pm | TONGUES OF HEAVEN Screening with Q&A
University of California at Santa Cruz, Communications, Studio C (free, open to public)

2 Responses to “A Chat with Documentary Filmmaker Anita Chang”

  1. Andrew Kuo

    I am very much moved to see my fellow Taiwanese Americans working so hard to keep and promote their heritage wherever they are!

  2. Joannie

    Thank you! I’m looking forward to watching the film. I am Taiwanese and I am born/raised in Hawaii and I love this. Also enjoy the ending of this interview with Anita & Ho Chie speaking Taiwanese 🙂 Keep using whatever you know!

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