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Film tells the story of activist lawyer Iijima


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POSTED: Thursday, September 24, 2009

The UH-Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law will present “;A Song for Ourselves,”; a film about the late Chris Iijima, tonight in Chinatown. Iijima, a law school professor, lawyer, musician, community activist and scholar, died in 2005 at 57 from a rare blood disease. This is filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura's third installment in a trilogy about the early Asian-American movement and the community in which the 29-year-old Nakamura was raised.

“;He was a remarkable and unique individual who was the ideal law professor in that he cared about his students and challenged them,”; said UH law school dean Avi Soifer, who added that Iijima—a friend and colleague—was the primary reason he and his wife moved to Hawaii. “;In addition, he was an activist for social justice throughout his life ... which made him unusual, and that, too, was part of his appeal. He was a skilled musician and a leader in the Asian-American activist cause. He combined a love of life and good food and good music with a real commitment to things larger than ourselves.”;

Soifer said that Iijima wrote the pledge that students take when they begin law school. In addition, he administered the Lehua Program, which sets aside 12 slots in the law school pre-admission process for students who have endured and overcome hardship, and he also served as their mentor throughout law school.

“;He didn't just inspire; he lived it,”; Soifer continued. “;He was hilarious and warm, a wise counselor and truly beloved.”;

“;'A Song for Ourselves' is my attempt to capture the essence of this community I am grateful and proud to be part of,”; Nakamura said in a statement.

The law school will host a panel on social justice entitled “;Creative Modern Activism”; at 4 p.m. today in Classroom 2. The film premieres tonight at 7 p.m. at NextDoor at 43 N. Hotel St. Proceeds will go toward the Lehua Program ...

Two interesting independent films start at Kahala tomorrow. “;Adoration”; is a story from two-time Academy Award nominee Atom Egoyan, who directed this enigmatic exploration of family, devotion and history. Inspired by an old news report (read aloud in his French class for translation) about a terrorist who plants a bomb in his pregnant girlfriend's airplane luggage, a teenager (Simon, played by Devon Bostick) adopts the narrative as his own, telling people he was the unborn child in the failed explosion. It's all part of an attempt to better understand his own family, which includes a bigoted grandfather who ironically notes, “;That's the thing about anger; it sucks up a lot of intelligence.”; His attitudes facilitate Simon's willingness to launch himself into this tale, as does the fact that his parents died in a car crash, leaving Simon to be raised by a limited uncle. For a while, the pieces of the puzzle float around under disturbing and omnipresent violin music, swinging us between reality, fantasy and the way modern technology promotes the blurring between the two.

When certain revelations occur—especially about the French and drama teacher (played by Arsinee Khanjian), who seems to get overly involved in her student's life—certain elements become clearer. But throughout, the confusing chronology and eccentric storyline remain unsettling and provocative, demanding intellectual involvement from the viewer. It's in English, from Sony Pictures Classics.

Perhaps a little easier to absorb, “;It Might Get Loud”; covers the personal stories of three generations of electric guitar legends. Director David Gugenheim explores how The Edge of U2, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jack White of the White Stripes found their unique style and sound ...