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4th DocuAsia Forum tackles sensitive Asia-Canada relations

The DocuAsia Forum is an annual Metro Vancouver event for exploring Asia-Canada relations as they develop. By bringing together filmmakers, artists, academics, community representatives and the general public, DocuAsia provides a platform for informed dialogue concerning the current cultural and economic development in Asia, and global implications for the future.

Extremely timely in light of recent backlash against the China-Canada FIPPA agreement and the presence of Chinese miners in Northern BC, the upcoming 4th DocuAsia Forum attempts to highlight the human stories behind broader social, political and economic shifts and envision a different kind of globalization – one that would move away from a model of cultural fragmentation to one of mutual understanding through discourse grounded in life and death concerns shared by all of us.

This year’s program features Extraction, a bilingual (English and Mandarin) documentary-style play by Theatre Conspiracy. Extraction, winner of the Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, delves deep into the heart of intertwined cultural phenomena: China’s rise as an economic power and oil extraction in Alberta by mining the biographies of non-actor performers.

We have chosen two documentary films, described below, as companion pieces to Extraction. We hope these films would inspire discussion about what seems to be an emerging narrative containing conflicting elements. “Globalization” connotes unity and wholeness regarding economic and cultural forces, while the realities of national and culture-specific perspectives can lend themselves to fragmentation. In the zero-sum race to extract energy resources to feed growing, and in many cases shrinking and unstable economies, the films suggest it is easy to fall into a cultural and national myopia, obscuring a larger question of ecological consequences that unite us in a global web of interdependence.

This year’s DocuAsia program does not confront ecological challenges directly. Rather, it raises questions about the troubling broader context of inter-cultural and inter-national miscommunication and the kind of impatience and aggression this so often yields.

English Press Release | 中文新聞稿 | 温哥华太阳报中文报道

2013 Program

*All DocuAsia events followed by public discussion.

1. Price of Gold

[singlepic id=77 w=300 h=300 float=left] 86 minutes | Germany | Mongolia | Mongolian w/ English subtitles | BC Premiere
A documentary by Sven Zellner and Chingunjav Borkhuu

Time: Thursday, February 28, 7:30pm
Location: Performance Hall, Richmond Cultural Centre, (7700 Minoru Drive, Richmond)
Ticket: Free and open to the public

There’s a gold rush in Mongolia, and much like the North American gold rushes at the turn of the 20th century, it has become a capitalist free-for-all where concern for the individual or the environment takes a backseat to the profit margin. Foreign corporations have mined the Mongolian land, but now close to 10,000 rogue Mongolian nomads, known as Ninjas, have begun prospecting for the leftovers. Small independent crews, without the aid of modern technology or equipment, risk their lives digging for a small piece of the action. It’s their land, after all, and they want in on the profit. Price of Gold follows a crew of brave and desperate Ninjas on their illegal digs in the Gobi desert. Stunning cinematography illustrates the vast landscape and claustrophobic conditions of the DIY mines navigated by the determination, ingenuity and utter insanity of this remarkable crew. Lynne Crocker (HotDocs 2012)


2. Losers and Winners

[singlepic id=76 w=300 h=300 float=left] A documentary by Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken
Germany | 2006 | 96 min | German & Mandarin w/ English subtitles

Time: Monday, March 4, 7:00pm
Location: Rm 7000, SFU Harbour Centre (515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver)
Ticket: Free and open to the public – Online registration is required for this event

400 Chinese workers break down the Kaiserstuhl coke factory in the Ruhr Valley into manageable parts and ship them back to their homeland: disassembly in the West – reassembly in the Far East. Dortmund’s last coke workers find themselves helping the Chinese to dismantle their own workplace.

For one and a half years, filmmakers Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken watch as a gigantic industrial site is dismantled, documenting the stories accompanying its disappearance: how the coke workers in the industrial Ruhr Region experience the arrival and working methods of the Chinese, their feelings upon seeing their pride in their work vanish along with what was the most modern coke factory in the world, but also the strain and conflicts the Chinese workers face during their 60-hour work week far away from home and family, caught between euphoria and doubts about their future.

Two worlds collide. But who is ultimately the winner and who the loser when jobs and the “economic miracle” that made them possible leave their country of origin and a whole region of Germany experiences first-hand the impact of the phenomenon of globalization, while in the Middle Kingdom new visions come and go with each passing day?

  • Best International Feature, 2007 Hot Docs International Documentary Festival
  • Film Critics Award, 2007 Chicago International Documentary Festival
  • Special Jury Award, 2007 It’s All True Brazil
  • Best Film Award, 2007 One World Prague

Photo Courtesy of Icarus Films
The film is sponsored by Icarus Films.


Gary Marcuse

Gary Marcuse is an independent journalist and filmmaker based in Vancouver, Canada. With background in environmental planning and fine arts, he has written and directed several films about the emergence of environmental movements around the world. He is a former programming executive for CBC Television in Vancouver (2004-2008) and the former Chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada.

Harjap Grewal

Harjap Grewal has been involved in community organizing for justice on the issues of migration, indigenous sovereignty, environment, poverty and economics in Vancouver and BC. He is currently working as the BC-Yukon Regional Organizer for the Council of Canadians supporting organizing on issues of trade, water, healthcare and climate change. He has written about the bilateral trade agreement between Canada and China known as the Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA) as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.



[singlepic id=78 w=300 h=300 float=left] By Theatre Conspiracy
Running time — approximately 90 minutes, no intermission
Writer/Producer — Tim Carlson
Director — Amiel Gladstone

Time: Wednesday & Thursday, March 6 & 7, 8:00pm
Location: The Cultch (1895 Venables Street, Vancouver)
Ticket: Tickets from $17 (please buy online or call box office at: 640.251.1363)

The performers in Extraction are not actors but people with distinct life experiences who play themselves: Jimmy Mitchell, a former Canadian diplomat and journalist who spent the most of the past 20 years in China; Sunny Sun, a recent Chinese immigrant making a new life in Vancouver; and Jason Wilson, a member of the Dene Nation and recent safety worker in the camps of Fort McMurray.

Photo from the workshop presentation at Cinevolution’s Your Kontinent Festival summer 2012.
Photos by Chris Randle

Read article on Georgia Straight

Hank Bull

Hank Bull started his artistic career in Toronto as a painter and blues pianist. In 1973, he moved to Vancouver and joined the Western Front, one of the first artist-run centres. He has produced work in a wide range of media, including radio, video, sound, performance, telecommunications, and painting. In 1999 he a co-founded Centre A, the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, where he served as Executive Director until 2010. From 2002 to 2008, he was a member of the Sectoral Committee for Culture and Communications of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and from 2008 to 2009, he was a regular contributor to the Governor General’s committee on arts and culture. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

Winnie Hwo

Winnie Hwo is an award winning journalist with a passion for public engagement. Recipient of the first Jack Webster Chinese language best reporting award, Winnie led the Fairchild news team to win five more Jack Webster team awards by the time she left her position as the News and Current Affairs Director for Fairchild Television. Today, Winnie works with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Climate Change and Clean Energy Team as the Public Engagement and Chinese Media Communications Specialist. She is a frequent guest at public discussions on issues around engaging new Canadians and race relations in Canada.

DocuAsia is presented in partnership with:


Premier event partners:

Special thank you to all the community partners!