It is with great pride that we now announce that Anomaly is officially available on DVD through our distributor, Third World Newsreel! We are thrilled to make the DVD available with TWN for your college, university, library or community group! Visit the catalog and order your DVD here:

http://www.twn.org/catalog/pages/cpage.aspx?rec=1363&card=price

Third World Newsreel has been our fiscal sponsor during the making of the film. We are excited to be joining their catalog of important educational titles. Anomaly is suited for educational discussions on Identity, Multiculturalism & Diversity, Race & Ethnicity, Sociology, Music, Performance, African American Studies, Asian Pacific American Studies, Media Studies, and many other subject areas. Anomaly is an award-winning documentary that provides a thought-provoking look at multiracial identity by combining personal narratives with the larger drama of mixed race in American culture.

Spread the word and recommend the new Anomaly DVD to your local educators! We hope that the conversations sparked at film festivals and in-person presentations continue to unfold in your local community.

Poster design by Annie Han, photo by Christopher Huang

Pete Shungu, featured in Anomaly on trumpet and spoken word, and band Afro D All Starz will be performing live in NYC the evening of the Loving Day Flagship Celebration. Come to the CD release party for their new album, “Strength in Numbers.” Afro D All Starz is a 12-piece live band, blending hip hop, jazz and soul — socially-conscious, community-minded, music for the people.

Details:

Saturday, June 15

Doors at 7:30, music from 8-10pm

Free show!

Shrine World Music Venue

2271 Adam Clayton Powell (7th Ave.), Harlem, NY

More info: www.afrodallstarz.com

We are thrilled and honored that we acquired a release to incorporate Joe Bataan’s song, “Ordinary Guy (Afro Filipino),” in the soundtrack of Anomaly. Back in the 60s and 70s, long before mixed heritage identity came into public awareness, Joe Bataan was singing about his Afro-Filipino roots!

“Don’t know much about psychology
My degrees are in streetology
Ordinary, ordinary guy
Afro Filipino, average sort of guy…”

If you’re in New York, catch him at Central Park’s Summerstage!

Joe Bataan, called the “King of Latin Soul,” was influenced by the melodic sounds of doo-wop and the energy of Latin music that were the hallmarks of his Spanish Harlem neighborhood.

Joe Bataan at Central Park Summerstage, NYC
Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 @ 7pm
Joe Bataan / Johnny Colon / DJ Turmix / Screening: “We Like It Like That – The Story of Latin Boogaloo”
http://www.summerstage.org

Anomaly on indiegogo.com

We have launched a fundraising campaign on indiegogo to galvanize the outreach and distribution of Anomaly! You can support two areas of outreach and finishing funds:

1) to send Director/Producer Jessica Chen Drammeh to the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival in Los Angeles. Mixed Roots is the only festival devoted to the “mixed racial and cultural experience.” Past festivals have featured Dr. Maya Sotoero-Ng (President Barack Obama’s sister), Dr. Maria P.P. Root, and many other notable authors and artists. The complete schedule is now online. Anomaly screens Sunday, June 12 at 11am.

2) The second area of the campaign is earmarked for archival newsreel licensing, music licensing and an original song collaboration between our composer and artist(s) from the film.

While we are tapping other sources of outreach and finishing funds, in this indiegogo campaign we are trying “crowd funding” as a way to connect with new supporters and build a larger online community. There’s a full line of perks such as screen credit with a $25 or more contribution. The more we raise over our $2,500 goal, the better!

Please check out the campaign at indiegogo.com and leave comments, recommend to your friends, contribute, post to Facebook, twitter, and help us get the word out! Thank you in advance for your support and hope to see you in L.A.! -JCD

UPDATE 12/22/09:

CNN has posted a new article and video on Lou Jing, “TV Talent Show Exposes China’s Race Issue”:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/12/21/china.race/index.html

UPDATE 11/17/09 to original post on 10/1/09:

A newer article appeared in an Australian newspaper with an updated interview with Lou Jing. She says,  that she “was shocked by the thousands of web postings that followed, most of them negative and many of them expressing racist views.

“I couldn’t help crying. I felt hurt. I never meant to offend anyone,” she said.”

Read the full article here:

“Oriental Angel” triggers China race row

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Sharon found this fascinating article about a mixed race contestant in an American Idol-esque TV show in Shanghai. Besides being mixed race, the catch is that the contestant, Lou Jing, was not mixed with white, but mixed with brown. Here’s some excerpts from the TIME article. -JCD

Lou Jing

Lou Jing

Can a Mixed-Race Contestant Become a Chinese Idol?

…But there is one thing that distinguishes this 20-year-old from her peers, something that has made her the unwitting focus of an intense public debate about what exactly it means to be Chinese: the color of her skin. Born to a Chinese mother and an African-American father whom she has never met, the theater student rocketed into the public consciousness last month when she took part in an American Idol-esque TV show, Go! Oriental Angel.

The marketing gurus for the series could hardly have dreamed of a better promotional gimmick when they started to investigate the backgrounds of the dozens of pop-star wannabes to root out the competitors’ mushy stories of triumph over adversity that are a well-worn staple of the genre. Here was a tale guaranteed to attract eyeballs: a girl of mixed race, brought up by a single Chinese mother, struggling to gain acceptance in a deeply conservative, some would say racist, society.

The strategy worked — perhaps too well. In August, Lou’s appearance on the show not only boosted viewer numbers but also sparked an intense nationwide debate about the essential meaning of being Chinese. Over the past month on Internet chat rooms, where modern China’s sensitive issues are thrashed out by netizens long before they reach the heavily censored mainstream media, Lou’s ethnicity has been the subject of a relentless barrage of criticism, some of it crudely racist. Many think she should not have been allowed to compete on a Chinese show, or at least not selected to represent Shanghai in the national competition. She doesn’t have fair skin, which is one of the most important factors for Chinese beauty. What’s more, her mother and her biological father were never married; morally, the argument goes, this kind of behavior shouldn’t be publicized, so she shouldn’t have been put on TV as a young “idol.”

…As for Lou, she found the whole experience more than a little disturbing. She did well in the show, ranking in the top 30 contestants before she was eliminated. Now she’s back to her normal life as a college junior — with a little new insight into her home. “Through this competition, it’s really scary to find out how the color of my skin can cause such a big controversy.”

professional editing and mixing with Logic

professional editing and mixing with Logic

Recently we finished the final sound design and mix of Anomaly with the talented Brett Hammond of Studio 11211! Brett cleaned up the location sound tracks, added SFX and foley, and mixed all the levels. It’s often said that film audiences will forgive flawed visuals, but have a hard time time focusing when the audio is inconsistent. How true!

another good tool in the box, Izotope

another good tool in the box, Izotope

One of the main challenges with this documentary was gathering the sound from our various characters in more than 26 different shooting locations and polishing it to seem like the same acoustic “space.” There was a dramatic before-and-after improvement that made it all more uniform and easy on the ears! Maybe we’ll post a few demo clips down the road. :)  Brett was a skilled and intuitive collaborator, with a fantastic ear for sound, and simply delightful to work with! Check out his various film and audio projects at Studio 11211.

I’m bringing this interview back from the website archives. At the time, I even asked her about the possibility of Barack Obama becoming president. What a difference a year makes. -JCD

Q&A with Gabriella Callender

Interviewed by Jessica Chen Drammeh

Originally published April 2008

Gabriella Callender is a singer/songwriter/performer whose riveting story is featured in Anomaly. She grew up in Hollis, Queens, adopted by an African American family. Coming into adulthood, she made several attempts at finding out more about her biological mother, Winnie. During the film, Gabriella has a touching reunion with Winnie. The film also interweaves Gabriella’s original songs, such as “Black and White” and “It’s You.” At a screening, one audience member called Gabriella’s singing “the voice of an angel.”

Speak the Fire

Speak the Fire

Director Jessica Chen Drammeh caught up with Gabriella to find out where she is now, and about her upcoming album release, “Speak the Fire,” with Mahina Movement.

Q: Tell me a secret! (Or a little-known fact about Gabby.)

A: I absolutely love to cook, bake and I adore colorful fabric…There. I said it. Let’s please move on. [Gabby smiles.]

Q: What was the most fascinating part of being involved in Anomaly?

A: Capturing Winnie on film – to know that a small part of her huge story will be heard by your audiences… it makes me so happy because I know, even though she doesn’t say it – it means a lot to her. Also, your diligence in seeing this project through. Your commitment to excellence – it is inspiring.

Jessica: Well, thank you! One of the most fun and rewarding parts about doing documentary work is that you get to interact with people in their real lives. And to be part of your reunion with Winnie, and follow the many parts of your life, has been an honor.

Winnie and Gabriella

Winnie and Gabriella

Q: In Anomaly, we see your reunion with your biological mother, Winnie. What is your relationship with her like nowadays?

A: Just yesterday Winnie called me up, like she does once a week, with her joke for the week …

She really thinks they are funny and gets such a kick out of telling them that I have to laugh. Winnie and I have nothing hidden between us. We accept each other for who we are and where we are. Priceless.

Q: Do you have any mantras, mottos, or favorite quotations?

A: Honor your word – it’s all you have in this whole world.

Q: How did you first meet Moana and Erica (of Mahina Movement) and what has your process been like working with them?

Mahina Movement: Moana, Gabby and Erica

Mahina Movement: Moana, Gabby and Erica

A: I first met Moana at Bluestockings Bookstore on Allen Street. She was doing a reading from her then play, “Tongue In Paint.” She got so involved during her monologue that tears came and snot began to run out of her nose – she never wiped the snot off her face, she just let it stay there…I was like “Man! That’s someone I’d love to work with.”

 A few months later I came on board and met Erica.

A lot of people ask us about our process. Well, you know, we never factored it in as a formula or anything. We show up with our pieces, then we break out the food. We warm up, go over line-ups, perform them for each other, then we are really honest about what we think works and what does not work, then we take it to the next level. We collaborate our pieces together, get them into our body through different exercises, tweak, tweak, tweak, take turns directing each other, call each other out on our shitskas and then we break out some more food. We cry a lot, laugh a lot, yell sometimes, get on each others’ nerves, have each others’ backs, and then we come back and do it all over again. If I had to sum it all up in one sentence I would say the strongest, most valuable quality of our process is that we persevere – we keep showing up for each other week after week, month after month, year after year – everything else falls into place.

Q: Mahina Movement is a trio or trinity. Do you find any symbolism in that?

A: We know, as do our spiritual followers, that we have been chosen by the Almighty God to be Her disciples….ok…ok…I’m just kidding! [big laugh] These kinds of questions make me want to make jokes. [another big laugh] Well, we each have our own meaning and personal symbols for the word Trinity – mine is this – at the end of the day we are one. Our energies are different, our personalities are very different. If you met us each individually you might not think the three of would even know each other – that’s what makes us special. When we perform together our individual ways of being fuses into something all its own –it is its own life force and for the most part it seems to work.

Q: On your new album, “Speak the Fire”–if you could make it into a food analogy, what kind of food dish would it be?

A: It wouldn’t be a food dish– it would be an entire entrée of delicious food dishes to choose from …fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, collard greens, corn bread, enchiladas con mole, tortas, candied yams, yucca, fish with coconut, potato salad, octopus, stuffed peppers, mmm, yum, chocolate chip cookies, flan, chocolate layer cake, coconut and mango ice cream…lots of different juices to drink and of course…sparkling water.

Q: You have one night only for a jam session to play with any four musicians or vocalists, living or deceased. Who is in your fab five?

A: Just one night? Well, Omari Brown (3 years old), Imani Brown (5 years old), Angelique (3 years old) and give me two more 3 – 5 year old kids who love music ….If I only had ONE night I would definitely jam with the kids – the talent is off the hook, they are waaaaaaaayyyy fun and I can’t tell you how much I learn about being open, vulnerable and having fun when I jam with kids.

Q: If you could go forward/backward in time (or be in the present), to have dinner with one person, who would that be and why?

A: It would absolutely be the person who cooks the best food in the entire world, wouldn’t mind me with cooking with her/him, knows good wine, loves to eat, knows the art of a great conversation, and knows how to have a ton of fun without being weird.

Barack Obama at the DNC 2004

Barack Obama at the DNC 2004

Q: Barack Obama is probably the most visible mixed race person in the U.S. today. Is America ready for a black, multiracial president? (or Latino/a, Asian American, Native, Arab American, etc.)

A: We are ready for Blacks, Multiracial folks, Transgender people, Queer folks, Lesbians, Gay men (well, we’ve actually already had a few of these), Latinos, Asian Americans, Indigenous Peoples, Women, Arab Americans, Pacific Islanders, Physically impaired people, even People with piercings and tattoos – it doesn’t matter as long as they can listen to the people and get our job done. That’s what George Bush did – he got us READY. We have been eating crap for years. We are now READY for a real meal. The only people who aren’t ready are the people who aren’t ready – but they have never been ready and they might never be ready…we can’t afford to wait on them anymore.

Q: Say that in the next lifetime, you had to come back as someone of a completely different ethnic background. What would you be?

A: When I come back I’m coming back as a Gabican from the planet Gabulous …yep by that time we’ll be mixing with beings from other planets …you know, get things a little more interesting cuz lord knows those census questions could use some more flava.

Thanks so much, Gabby, for getting us up to date on your work! If you are in New York, come to the CD release party of “Speak the Fire” on Saturday, April 12th. Or, visit the Mahina Movement website to sample songs and get your very own copy of the CD! www.mahinamovement.com

For details on hosting a screening of Anomaly and having Gabriella perform live, email info@anomalythefilm.com

Candid. Thought-provoking. Compelling. Anomaly interweaves the thoughts and experiences of the participants with the director’s narration, creating a rich tapestry of mixed dynamics. Unlike prior works on mixed race issues that focus on one ethnic mix, Anomaly is truly multiracial. Our participants come from many diverse backgrounds and multiple generations. Meet the voices and spirit of Anomaly here…

Gabriella Callender

Gabriella performing her song, "It's You"

Gabriella performing her song, "It's You"

 

“Genealogically, I’m multiethnic. Culturally, I’m African American, with European influence…  Once upon a time I used to say ‘I’m black’ because that’s how I was raised and to say anything other than black meant you’re trying to pass, and if you’re trying to pass then that is just it: you do not belong in our community, how dare you! It was a big taboo.”

Gabriella Callender is a singer/songwriter who was raised in Queens, New York, by an adopted family during the 1960s and 1970s. In Anomaly, she performs her autobiographical song, “Black and White,” which tells the story of growing up in a family where “it was all about the black and white.” In the film, Gabriella speaks about her adoption and journey of self-discovery to find her birth mother. To hear Gabriella’s work, visit the Mahina Movement website at www.mahinamovement.com.

Michelle Myers

Michelle on location in Philadelphia

Michelle on location in Philadelphia

 

“Epic memory awakened, I remember you: you are the land of my birth. I will return to you.” –from Michelle’s piece, “Arirang”

Spoken word artist Michelle Myers, who grew up in rural New Jersey, reflects on the intense alienation she experienced in her childhood from peers and the white side of her family for being half Korean. Through her work in the duo Yellow Rage and the collective Asians Misbehavin’, she confronts stereotypes and myths about Asian Americans in an outspoken, controversial way. She is also the mother of three mixed race children featured in Anomaly. To sample Michelle’s pieces, such as “I’m a Woman (Not a Flava),” visit www.yellowrage.com.

Pete Shungu

Pete on trumpet

Pete on trumpet

 

“I’ve found my way, comin’ from parents of completely different heritage/So I got a problem with you if you got a problem with interracial marriages…” –from Pete’s piece, “Third Eye-dentity”

Pete is a musician/poet based in Boston. His mother is Caucasian from Kansas, and his father African from the Congo. Showing a younger generation coming of age, Pete was born in the early 1980s. Like Michelle, he grew up in New Jersey, but found a more supportive family life for acknowledging both of his heritages. Through his poems and music, like “Third Identity” and “Other,” Pete challenges the social categorization of mixed race people, while exploring both sides of his rich family identity. Pete’s website is at www.afroDZak.com.

Thaddeus Rutkowski

Thad Rutkowski

Thad Rutkowski

 

Thaddeus Rutkowski is a spoken word artist and poet who grew up in central Pennsylvania and lives in New York. His work has appeared in numerous publications and he has been a resident at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and Ragdale. He is a winner of the Poetry Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café, and performs pieces like “White and Wong” in Anomaly. Thad identifies as biracial; his mother is Chinese, and his father was Polish American. Find out about his first book, Roughhouse, and his latest novel, Tetched, at www.thaddeusrutkowski.com.

Rona Taylor

Rona hails from the Bay Area and took one of the first people of mixed heritage courses in the U.S. at UC Berkeley in the 1980s. In Anomaly, she recalls her childhood navigating Filipino and African American/Native American heritages. Early on, she identified as a “world citizen.” She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and is raising two daughters and a son.

Additional participants include:

Sabrina Margarita Alcantara-Tan, Jazz Biancci, Ella Mei Yon Biggadike, Kiyomi Burchill, Brenda Gannam, Stephanie Nokes, Ajani Schuster,  Rebecca Schuster, and James Spooner

Key experts contextualize the issues:

Jennifer Chan
Former Adjunct Professor, “Asian Americans of Mixed Heritage” course, A/P/A Studies Program and Institute, New York University.

Jen Chau
Founder/Executive Director, Swirl, Inc., a national community organization founded in 2000 that serves the mixed race community.

Michele Elam, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English, Director of African American Studies at Stanford University; author of Race, Work and Desire in American Literature and the forthcoming Mixtries: Mixed Race in the New Millennium.

Eric Hamako
Doctoral student in the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Social Justice Education Program. Eric has been involved in mixed-race community organizing since 2000.

Ann Morning, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology at New York University, specializing in race and ethnicity, especially racial classification; the multiracial population; and demography. Fulbright Scholar and Ford Foundation Fellow.

Maria P.P. Root, Ph.D. (advisor)
Clinical Psychologist; Editor of The Multiracial Experience; Author of Love’s Revolution: Interracial Marriage and “The Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People.”

Jessica and composer J. Armen

Jessica and composer J. Armen

The original score for ANOMALY, as composed, recorded and mixed by J. Armen, is finished! What a joy it was to put back into the film, creating a thoroughly original sound for the scenes. Temp music is well, just that, temp music. Sometimes it’s too long, too short, too busy or too distracting.

J. Armen made some neat musical motifs that tied the score all together, drawing on vocal percussion, blues, a capella, improv, and broadly speaking, “world music.” In musician-speak, “pentatonic” and 9 part harmonies on some pieces. Check out the attached mp3! It’s a short sample from part of the end credits piece with vocals by Gwenviere Mann. (Click on and follow the link, and then play using the pop-up WordPress Snapshots.) To hear everything you have to come to a screening in 2009! :) -JCD

We had fantastic recording sessions this weekend! Working with composer J. Armen, the score has taken shape to create a unique, unifying vision of music that complements the content and visuals in ANOMALY. He found some fabulous musicians for the score.

Gwen Mann on vocal tracks

Gwen Mann on vocal tracks

On Saturday, we recorded Gweneviere Mann, versed in styles ranging from a capella to vocal percussion. Her alto voice sounded lush belting out some improv over a track underscoring a scene about the troubling social constructions of race and anti-miscegenation fervor. And what a coincidence! She previously sang in a group that performed Arirang at a wedding. Gwen could be in an ANOMALY sequel :) — she had a very poignant story about encounters with the KKK in the New Orleans area (they didn’t know what to make of her Filipina mom who could not pass the brown bag test).

Alex Garcia on congas and J. Armen at the sound board

Alex Garcia on congas and J. Armen at the sound board

On Sunday, J. brought into the studio bass player Ariel de la Portilla and percussionist Alex Garcia. There’s nothing like a live upright bass and congas to set a jammin’ groove with Latin and jazz roots. Ariel and Alex were so willing to do take after take, we have so much more excellent creative material than we could possibly use. The inspiration for another film, perhaps?:) Mixed race history throughout the Latin American diaspora. (That’s redundant, isn’t it ;) )

Ariel de la Portilla on upright bass

Ariel de la Portilla on upright bass

In half a second, J. put Alex and Ariel’s tracks together with a track from Gwen from the previous day. Wouldn’t you know they lined up exactly? It made a perfect musical fusion as if all three were in the studio at the same time. And our clapping recorded at the end of a really hot last take made J.’s studio sound like the new Club Armen.

There’s nothing like the energy of talented live musicians or artists honing their craft, especially when there’s room for improvisation! I played a bunch of musical instruments in my childhood (no I am not going to post a picture from the 8th grade in my band uniform!) so it was very exciting to be back in a recording studio. I will, however, post some mp3s previews in the future — after they have received J.’s professional mixing and fine tuning! -JCD