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Haunted Healing: Confronting Intergenerational Trauma

  • Seattle Public Library - Central Library 1000 4th Ave Seattle, WA 98104 (map)

Haunted Healing: Confronting Intergenerational Trauma through Film and Poetry

Traces of America's dark history still haunt us today. Join us as we confront this haunting through art and conversation. The program will feature a screening of Daryn Wakasa's short horror film, SEPPUKU (2017), which treats the lingering effects of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans as a form of intergenerational haunting. Poet Melissa Bennett will share writing that explores the painful resonances of the boarding school and mental health systems that separate Native people from their culture, home land, language, faith, family, and community. Wakasa and Bennett will then discuss their work in conversation, exploring overlaps in Japanese American and Indigenous history, and creative possibilities for healing in community. The coming together of these two communities is an important alliance for the historical moment we find ourselves in now. The event will be followed by a short convivial gathering in order to create additional space for conversation and connection.

Daryn Ryo Wakasa was born and raised in East Los Angeles. His storytelling lives in the liminal space—between graphic design, animation and film, between gaman (keep your troubles to yourself) and NWA's "Express Yourself," between the spirit world and physical. Between Japanese and American.

His award winning short films, A LOST GENERATION, GIRI, and SEPPUKU explore the American tapestry as a 4th generation Japanese American haunted by the Japanese American incarceration camps. His films are spiritual "coming of age" stories where characters excavate their family's past in order to illuminate a path forward.

Like the characters in his films, Daryn shapeshifted within the entertainment industry for over 13 years. As a Creative Director at companies like Elastic and Mirada (co-founded by Guillermo del Toro & Mathew Cullen), Daryn led everything from film development projects, to music videos, to interactive projects, to transmedia projects. He has worked with brands like IBM, Disney, HP, and Chevy as well as artists like Katy Perry.

Daryn's multidisciplinary background contributes to his unique cinematic voice. Graphic design arms him with the power of visual metaphors and symbolism. Animation stretches his imagination to blur the lines between the physical, spiritual and psychological. Filmmaking ferments everything into a form that emotionally resonates with people.

Melissa Bennett (Umatilla/Nimiipuu/Sac & Fox/Anishinaabe), M.Div. is a writer, storyteller, educator, and spiritual care provider. She is interested in story as medicine, especially its ability to heal historical trauma among indigenous communities. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Melissa's work focuses on social justice, culture, tradition, and spirituality. Melissa was a 2015 recipient of the Evergreen State College Longhouse Native Creative Development Grant and is a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop—an association of socially engaged writers working to advance creativity, foster generosity, and serve community.

Ellany Kayce (Tlingit Nation/Raven-Frog) will open and close the program.

Moderator: Natasha Varner holds a PhD in history from the University of Arizona and works as the Communications and Public Engagement Director for Densho, the Seattle-based Japanese American history non-profit. She previously managed the First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies publishing program and continues research and collaborations with Indigenous communities in the U.S. and Mexico. She is a contributing writer for Public Radio International and has a book forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press.

This event is presented in partnership with Densho, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving, educating, and sharing the story of World War II-era incarceration of Japanese Americans in order to deepen understanding of American history and inspire action for equity. Densho is a Japanese term meaning "to pass on to the next generation," or to leave a legacy.

Sponsored by Evergreen Longhouse Education and Cultural Center. The “House of Welcome,” Longhouse Education and Cultural Center opened in 1995 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. As a public service center of The Evergreen State College, the Longhouse’s mission is to promote Indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression, and economic development.

Sponsored by Seattle Asian American Film Festival. The Seattle Asian American Film Festival (SAAFF) showcases feature-length and short format films by and about Asian Americans across North America, with an emphasis on filmmakers from the Pacific Northwest.

This event is also sponsored by Na'ah Illahee Fund and the United Indians of All Tribes.