Tag Archives: Down a Dark Stairwell

Mar. 19-28: 16th Anniversary Disorient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon Lineup; Sneak Preview in February

The DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon is  celebrating 16 years of uplifting Asian American and Pacific Islander stories and voices this year and will be a held virtually from March 19-28, 2021. The curated program includes narrative and documentary films, livestreamed events and recorded Q&A’s to enrich your film experience.

DisOrient 2021 Sneak Preview

Down a Dark Stairwell

Down A Dark StairwellScreening February 27-28, 2021; Tickets required, $9. Click here for tickets. Livestreamed Q&A: Sunday, February 28 @ 3:00 PST. Moderated by DisOrient founder Jason Mak; with Director Ursula Liang and Documentarian and film editor JM Harper. Panel Discussion–Livestream. This content can only be viewed in authorized regions:Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii.

(Left to Right) Karen Ishizuka, Tadashi Nakamura, Hisonni Mustafa, Ursula Liang, Daisy Truong

The role of Asian American filmmakers in supporting Black Lives Matter: Saturday, March 21 @ 3:00pm PST. Tickets required—“Pay what you can”. Moderated by DisOrient Founder Jason Mak. Panelists: Daisy Truong, Hisonni Mustafa, Karen Ishizuka, Tadashi Nakamura and Ursula Liang. Click here for tickets.

Haven Everly, Emy Coligado and Paolo Montalban in Mallorie Ortega’s THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME.

Life Imitates Art for Emy Coligado with Dream Role in Mallorie Ortega’s THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME

Film Highlights: Opening Night film: The Girl Who Left Home: A live-action, musical feature film by writer/director/lyricist/producer Mallorie Ortega, and producer Angelo Santos. The film will be followed by  two short films, Looking Back, and Ode to a Seafaring People. Livestreamed Q&A on Saturday, March 20 @ 4:00pm PST/7:00pm EST. Click here for tickets.

Centerpiece film: Cane Fire: Pacific NW Premiere; Feature Documentary. Merging film history with the personal and political, filmmaker Anthony Banua-Simon offers an eye-opening look at the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. The film will be preceded by two short films, Where Smoke Rises and The Pākalā Kids. Livestreamed Q&A on Friday, March 26 @  6:30pm PST/9:30pm EST. Click here for tickets.
Closing Night Film: Coming Home AgainPNW Premiere. Feature film by Wayne Wang, based on a personal essay by Chang Rae Lee, and starring Justin Chon, Jackie Chung, and Christina July Kim.

Our film, When the World Was Young, directed by Garth Kravits and starring Virginia Wing, Jason Ma, Lia Chang and Jo Yang, will screen before Coming Home Again. Livestreamed Q&A on Sunday March 28 @ 4:00pm PST/7:00pm EST. Click here for tickets.

Garth Kravits’ Short Film WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG Starring Virginia Wing, Jason Ma, Lia Chang and Jo Yang is an Official Selection of The 16th Annual DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon

Other film highlights include:

Water Like Fire: Mainland US premiere. Lovely, poetic, Hawaii-made indie film.

Sansei Granddaughters’ Journey 5 artists honor their ancestors and the 120,000 people ofJapanese ancestry who were unjustly incarcerated during WWII.

See You ThenFeature Narrative by award-winning filmmaker Mari Walker. After 15 years, Kris is finally ready to explain her transgender journey to college girlfriend Naomi (Lynn Chen). Screening with Kaye: This Life Around, the artistic journey of a musician rediscovering her music.

Take Out GirlFeature film by award-winning director Hisonni Mustafa, with an Asian American hip-hop soundtrack; screening with the world premiere of Blue Lanterns.

4 shorts programs: Emerging Voices, Japanese American Voices Past and Present, Voices of Family, Raising Our Voices

All-access passes ($48) and tickets for all films may be purchased online at www.disorientfilm.org. Check out the website for the full festival schedule, program, and film trailers.



Feb. 5: Arts Emerson to Screen Ursula Liang’s Documentary “Down a Dark Stairwell”; Q & A to Follow

On Friday, February 5 at 7:30PM EST, Arts Emerson will premiere Ursula Liang’s documentary,  Down A Dark Stairwell.

The screening will be followed at 9:15PM by a live post-film panel discussion featuring Director Ursula Liang and moderator Umass Boston Professor Denise Khor. This conversation will be ASL interpreted and will be recorded and available on demand with the film through Sunday, February 7.

For more information, click here.

When a Chinese-American police officer kills an unarmed Black man in a darkened stairwell of a New York City housing project, it sets off a firestorm of emotion and calls for accountability. In 2014, Peter Liang became the first NYPD officer convicted of an on duty shooting in over a decade, inciting a complicated fight for justice wherein two subjugated communities were thrust into the uneven criminal justice system together. Down a Dark Stairwell captures both one of the largest Asian-American protests in history and a key event in the emerging Black Lives Matter movement. In this unflinching documentary directed by Ursula Liang, the insidious effects of white supremacy in American society are starkly revealed, persisting even when the participants on both sides of a conflict are people of color.

The film will air on PBS on April 12, 2021. 

Down A Dark Stairwell has received the 2020 Ashland Independent Film Festival-Best Documentary Feature Award and the 2020 Indy Film Fest-Best Documentary Award.

Ursula Liang

Ursula Liang is a journalist who has told stories in a wide range of media. She has worked for The New York Times Op-Docs, T:The New York Times Style Magazine, ESPN The Magazine, Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI, StirTV, the Jax Show, Hyphen magazine and currently freelances as a film and television producer (“Tough Love” (POV), “Wo Ai Ni Mommy” (POV), “UFC Countdown,”“UFC Primetime”) and story consultant. The New York Times described her debut feature “9-Man” as “an absorbing documentary.” The film won numerous awards, including the CAAMFest 2015 Grand Jury prize, and aired on public television’s America ReFramed series. Liang also works for the film publicity company, the 2050 Group, is a founding member of the Filipino American Museum, and sits on the advisory board of the Dynasty Project.  noncompliantfilms.com

SHARED STORIES Film Series is a collaborative effort of Boston Asian American Film Festival, Boston Latino International Film Festival, Roxbury International Film Festival with ArtsEmerson.

UMASS Boston is a community partner for this engagement, UMASS Boston supporters include Cinema Studies Program, Asian American Studies Program, American Studies Department, and the Mellon Foundation.

Asian American Documentary Network (A-DOC) and Open Your Eyes & Think MF (OYEATMF) celebrated the record number of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) documentary filmmakers representing 17 features and 6 short films that are recognized as awards contenders through filmmaker conversations.  Below is a Q & A with Ursula Liang & Yu Gu on ‘Down a Dark Stairwell’ and ‘A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem’

Jan. 30-31: A-DOC: Asian American Documentary Network, Open Your Eyes & Think MF (OYEATMF) Highlight AAPI Documentary Awards Contenders Hao Wu, Ramona S. Diaz, Bao Nguyen, Richard Lui, Yung Chang, Ursula Liang, S. Leo Chiang, Diane Quon, Jiayan “Jenny” Shi, Carol Nguyen, Jeff Orlowski, Yi Chen, Elizabeth Lo, Annie Katsura Rollins, Joanna Vasquez Arong and More 

Feb. 1: A-Doc: The Invisibility of Asian American Documentaries Panel with Debbie Lum (Try Harder!), Ursula Liang (Down a Dark Stairwell), PJ Raval (Call Her Ganda), Jannat Gargi (Vice Studios), and moderator Donald Young (CAAM)

In 2021, Debbie Lum’s “Try Harder!” is just the 4th Asian American-made feature documentary tackling an Asian American topic to premiere at Sundance in the past 10 years. Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., yet our stories continue to be chronically underrepresented in popular culture, with an even worse track record for documentaries. Generations of Asian American filmmakers have been told by gatekeepers that their particular American stories are too niche and not universal enough for the mainstream. Are festivals and distributors perpetuating a racial blind spot? How do Asian American doc-makers move their stories out of the margins and into the spotlight?

Join Debbie Lum (Try Harder!), Ursula Liang (Down a Dark Stairwell), PJ Raval (Call Her Ganda), Jannat Gargi (Vice Studios), and moderator Donald Young (CAAM) as they examine what it means to tell an American story on Monday, February 1, 2021 at 2:00 PST/5:00 p.m. EST. Click here to RSVP.

Co-presented with Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Center for Asian American Media, and Visual Communications.


The Asian American Documentary Network is a national network of 800+ members working to increase the visibility and support of Asian Americans in the documentary field. A-Doc is committed to sharing ideas and resources, providing mutual support and mentorship, and advocating for equity and diversity in the production and distribution of non-fiction storytelling.


Brown Girls Doc Mafia is an initiative advocating for over 4,500 women and non-binary people of color working in the documentary film industry around the world. We fight inequality by building community and sharing resources, nourishing our creative brilliance, demanding access and visibility in creative and professional environments, enriching our community with the knowledge to sustain ourselves financially, and by cutting through oppressive industry structures to advocate for 
our members.

The Center for Asian American Media is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. We do this by funding, producing, distributing, and exhibiting works in film, television, and digital media. For 40 years, CAAM has exposed audiences to new voices and communities, advancing our collective understanding of the American experience through programs specifically designed to engage the Asian American community and the public at large. 

Visual Communications‘ mission is to develop and support the voices of Asian American & Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists who empower communities and challenge perspectives. Founded in 1970 with the understanding that media and the arts are powerful forms of storytelling, Visual Communications creates cross cultural connections between peoples and generations.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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