The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council will screen the feature documentary “Mississippi Yearning: Beyond Finding Cleveland” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center.
The documentary, created by Chinese-Americans Baldwin Chiu and Larissa Lam, follows the journey of the filmmaking duo as they trace their Chinese heritage all the way to Cleveland in the Mississippi Delta. Their last film, “Finding Cleveland,” received The Spirit of the Hoka Award at the Oxford Film Festival in 2016.
An expansion of the original, “Mississippi Yearning” picks up where the pair’s last film left off.
“Mississippi Yearning” follows the story of Chiu’s father’s family and the discrimination many Chinese families faced in the early 1900s, with a focus on the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Jim Crow laws. Chiu’s family owned a grocery store in the Mississippi Delta, and the film examines how white, African-American and Chinese people interacted in rural communities during this time.
The inaugural screening of “Mississippi Yearning” took place at Delta State University in Cleveland on Sunday. The movie was funded by a grant provided by the Mississippi Humanities Council. After the screening, movie-goers were treated to a Q&A session with the film’s creators.
“’Mississippi Yearning’ is an American story that reminds us how this country was made up of people from around the world, even at its early stages, and how the contributions of the early Chinese in Mississippi subtly, yet significantly, influenced change in the history of the American South,” Chiu said in a press release.
Ruben Flores, a sophomore exercise science major from Brandon, said he plans on attending the movie screening. He said he was immediately interested in “Mississippi Yearning” after hearing about the movie’s focus on immigrant families and their assimilation into American culture.
“My dad is an immigrant from Mexico, so I can relate to wanting to know where your family came from,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see how (Chiu’s) story compares to my dad’s.”
Before the screening, the arts council will host a Fall Cultural Round Table beginning at 5:30 that evening. Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy for Americans for the Arts, will speak on the economic impact of art on Mississippi.