GAPS

WATCH THE TRAILER FOR “GAPS” ON VIMEO.

GAPS

ALTHOUGH MENTAL AND NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES ARE A GLOBAL HEALTH ISSUE, THE CULTURAL STIGMAS AND TRADITIONS OF BEING ASIAN PLAY A MAJOR FACTOR IN HOW THEY ARE DEALT WITH IN THE COMMUNITY. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE OF ALZHEIMER’S, A DISEASE WHICH AFFECTS MILLIONS OF ASIANS, YET IN MOST ASIAN COUNTRIES AND CULTURES, A WORD DOES NOT EXIST TO DESCRIBE THE DISEASE. TO FURTHER COMPLICATE THESE CULTURAL STIGMAS, AT THE CENTER OF ALZHEIMER’S LIES THE INTERSECTION WHERE FILIAL PIETY AND STIGMA MEET WITH A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF MENTAL DISEASES. WHY IS THERE SUCH A LACK OF AWARENESS OF MENTAL DISEASE IN THE ASIAN COMMUNITY? WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO ALL THE SHAME AND EMBARRASSMENT OF THESE ISSUES? HOW DOES THIS ALL AFFECT ASIAN AMERICANS WHO HAVE BEEN RAISED IN A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT AS THE ELDERLY? ALTHOUGH THIS DOCUMENTARY FOCUSES ON ALZHEIMER’S, THE THEMES OF FAMILY, STIGMA, AND AWARENESS APPLY TO MANY ASPECTS OF ASIAN CULTURE AND THE GROWING TENSION BETWEEN ASIAN AMERICANS AND THEIR IMMIGRANT PARENTS.

IN MY SECOND DOCUMENTARY, I WANTED TO EXPLORE A TOPIC THAT HAS HIT CLOSE TO HOME WITH ME, WHICH IS THE TOPIC OF ALZHEIMER’S. MY FATHER-IN-LAW IS CURRENTLY IN THE LATE STAGES OF ALZHEIMER’S. I’VE WITNESSED THE STRUGGLES THAT THE FAMILY HAS GONE THROUGH NOT JUST IN CARING FOR HIM, BUT TO UNDERSTAND THE DISEASE INITIALLY AND CONTINUALLY GRASPING WITH HOW IT PROGRESSES AND HOW TO TREAT IT. MOST IMPORTANTLY AND EYE-OPENING THOUGH, IS THE SOCIAL STIGMAS THAT HAVE SURROUNDED THIS SITUATION AND THE PRESSURE THAT THE FAMILY HAS FELT TO TAKE ON THE DIFFICULT BURDEN OF CARING FOR HIM FULL-TIME, AS IT IS EXPECTED IN ASIAN CULTURE. I HOPE THAT THIS DOCUMENTARY OPENS-UP THE DISCUSSION ON THE TABOO TOPIC OF MENTAL DISEASE TO ASIAN COMMUNITIES EVERYWHERE, FROM SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS WHAT TO CALL IT (CHINESE LANGUAGE STILL REFERS TO PEOPLE WITH ALZHEIMER’S AS “OLD CRAZY PEOPLE”), TALKING ABOUT THE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION THAT THE ELDERLY HAVE ON THE YOUNGER GENERATION OF ASIANS TO BE CAREGIVERS AT ANY COST, AND HOW THE MEDICAL AND PROFESSIONAL INDUSTRY NEEDS TO SIMPLY CATER BETTER TO MINORITY GROUPS.