Article submitted by Sandy Uslander to the Guam Pacific Daily News.
The "I Am Chamorro" documentary started out in 2013 as the most significant private project of its kind. More than a year after its completion, it continues to share the unique story of the Chamorro people to the world. Last week, "I Am Chamorro" won the special mention in the cultural legacy category at the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon.
Manhita Chamorro, the organization formed to create "I Am Chamorro," submitted the documentary as part of their ongoing effort to reach larger audiences. Among more than 100 applicants, the film was one of 36 selected to premiere on April 23.
The decision to enter the film was not in the original design for the project, admits Executive Producer Joanne Tabor Modic, “We decided, ‘lets share this beautiful production.’”
As a result, the documentary was validated as a notable contribution to the festival.
The DisOrient Film Festival is in its 12th year as a volunteer-run film festival committed to presenting honest portrayals of the diversity of the Asian and Pacific Islander American experience, according to the DisOrient website.
The judges and audience of the DisOrient Film Festival were generally unfamiliar with the Chamorro culture. The public was able to learn more through a question and answer session following the premiere. Associate director of the festival, Pamela Quan told the "I Am Chamorro" crew that she watched the full-length movie four times and was brought to tears each time.
On April 23, Pale’ Eric Forbes and members of Manhita Chamorro were called to the stage to accept the award. Pale’ Eric spoke for the film, noting that "I Am Chamorro" is a film by the Chamorro people and for the Chamorro people, supported by those both on the islands and on the U.S. Mainland.
Since the award, an Oregon public access station has requested to show the film for one month this year. Other public broadcasts also are anticipated. This brings the film into the homes of hundreds, even thousands, who would otherwise not be exposed to the Chamorro culture.
“We are always such a small part of any particular population,” says Modic. “This is a way to bring the heart of the people of the Pacific and Guam to the world.”