Films at the Gate is a three-day Kung Fu Festival held at the Chinatown Gate in Boston each year. The next one takes place Friday through Sunday August 28th-30th and will feature Shaolin Soccer, Drunken Master and Iron Monkey. You can learn more about Films at the Gate and other activities organized by the Asian Community Development Corporation HERE. I spoke with one of the ACDC's Event Coordinators, Shu Qi Ke, to find out more about this year's showing.
You are coordinating the youth volunteering effort for Films at the Gate; what does that entail and how broad is your outreach?
What is your role for Films at the Gate and with the Asian Community Development Corporation?
As one of the Event Coordinator with Zi Liang Ruan, I help team leaders (like decorations team, food team, interactive games team and etc) with their team preparations and volunteers. Also I try to prepare the new event with last year’s successful event in mind, making this year’s 10th anniversary of the Films at the Gate even more successful.
I started getting involved with Films at the Gate through ACDC’s youth program called A-voyce. Since joining A-voyce in 2013 I have learned to be more of a leader, learned how to be a better public speaker and become more involved in the community. I've also learned more about professionalism. I participated in the August Moon booth with ACDC and Films of the Gate. At the event I gave suggestions on the first day which led me to be more knowledgable with the event on the first day. I led the volunteers on the second day, helping set up the A/V equipment, tables and chairs. After the event I continued to volunteer and work for ACDC. By the second year I became a kind of leader for the volunteers, helping with set-up and other things. This is my third year and I am now the event coordinator. I'm hoping this year will be more successful than previous years.
This event is managed by the Asian Community Development Coordination; can you tell me a little about the organization?
ACDC (Asian Community Development Coordination) is a non-profit organization which helps build low income housing in chinatown and other areas. ACDC also creates workshops for new home buyers to better understand the process and also provides help for any home-buyers with their problems. ACDC has created many building for low income housing. Right now our project is Parcel 24/One Greenway (at 66 Hudson St next to the highway).
Are there particular issues or challenges faced by the Asian American community?
Right now there is a big problem with housing as the market price for houses in Boston increases and many big companies build high luxury condominiums which low income families like Asian Americans cannot afford. This causes them to move away from chinatown into nearby towns like Quincy and Malden. So they take the public transportation everyday to go to chinatown to work.
How important is Chinatown in Boston as a cultural hub?
Chinatown in Boston is a very important cultural hub as all Asian Americans come here to buy asian food and other goods that are not available anywhere else. Chinatown to me is where I can get authentic asian food and feel like home. People come to chinatown for the food and the culture experience.
For those who don’t know, can you explain what Films at the Gate is?
Films at the Gate is a three day event, where ACDC host free Kung Fu Films each day for the community. This event is where the community can come together and watch a movie, eat popcorn with their family and friends. Elders come and enjoy old kung fu movies with their grandchildren and passers-by sit down and enjoy the movie as well. It's a family event that brings the whole community together.
Can you tell me how the event has developed and changed over the years?
Can you talk about the tradition of film in Chinatown?
This started because there used to be theaters in Chinatown and after the movies played you could watch an old Chinese film for a nickel. But those theaters are now out of business, so ACDC started Films at the Gate in 2006 with an empty abandoned lot (Ginza lot) screening movies. As the years went by there were more and more attendees who come to watch the movies. So the event had to be moved to the Greenway to place more chairs for more attendees. Now we have around 800 people showing up to the event every night to watch the movie. This is our 10th year.
Why is Films at the Gate Important to you?
To me Films at the Gate is something I have done for a long time and something that I enjoy. I get to meet new people, the event brings the community together, and also brings the volunteers together. Getting to meet new people and seeing the people enjoy the kung fu films is something I enjoy.
This year you will be showing Drunken Master, Iron Monkey and Shaolin Soccer. They are all excellent films; why these movies in particular?
These movies were popular in the past and there are still young kids who enjoy watching them. They blend Kung Fu and humor. I love to hear the attendees laugh.
How can people participate in Films at the Gate?
Participating in the event is easy, just come to the event, sit down watch some real live martial artist perform and enjoy the movie. To be more involved you can always email ACDC and we will also have a table with more information at the event. At the end we just ask for a little donation so next year’s event can be successful.