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Swallowing Bitterness: Mental Health Stigma in Chinese & Filipinx Cultures

Voices With Impact 2021: A week of films, conversation, and exploration related to mental health within Black and immigrant communities.

About this event

Swallowing bitterness is a Chinese idiom meaning to bear hardship and accept suffering, and is commonly held as a virtue in Chinese communities. Cultural factors (including swallowing bitterness) along with language barriers, stigma and shame, the model minority myth, immigration status, and faith/spirituality, are all possible barriers to AAPIs accessing mental health care, resulting in the lowest help-seeking rate of any ethnic group in America. Emilie Cheung, Thea Loo, Ziyao Liu, and Hao Zhou, filmmakers of Chinese and Filipinx descent, will speak to the mental health stigma that they have witnessed in their own lives and respective communities.

Note: This session has been designed to honor and center the full expression of mental health as experienced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Allies are welcome. Anything coming up in the session that decentralizes AAPIs will be compassionately redirected.


Thea Loo, “Nanay”

Thea Loo is an emerging film producer and director who holds a BFA in Film Production from Simon Fraser University. She began her producing career through an administration internship at the Vancouver Film Studios and working as a production office assistant on the Amazon Studios TV series “Man in the High Castle”. Thea’s most recently produced short film “No More Parties” (Dir. Natalie Murao) premiered at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and was created with the funding support of the National Film Board of Canada. She is creatively producing a short narrative still in development entitled “Soule”, about Filipino Canadian sneakerheads. Her directed works focus on investigating the Asian Canadian experience particularly through the lens of spirituality and the perspectives of the Filipino diaspora. Through the support of Voices With Impact, her short documentary “Nanay” will focus on patterns of trauma affecting immigrant Filipino families and shed light on their mental health journeys

Emilie Cheung, “Fish Out of Water”

Emilie is a 20 year old shorts director based in the UK. After training with the BFI Film Academy in 2016, she made her directorial debut at 17, with a commission from Channel 4’s ‘Random Acts’, for her short film ‘Pas De Deux’. She’s since gone on to direct a variety of projects; from social media commercials for ‘Adolescent Content’, to narrative shorts, including Underwire nominated ‘Walk of Shame’. She has also worked as a ‘Young Reporter’ for Into Film, giving her the opportunity to interview some of the most influential names in film, such as Damien Chazelle, Richard Curtis and Millie Bobby Brown. She is currently working as an In-House Runner at SISTER, an independent production company founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Jane Featherstone and Stacey Snider

Hao Zhou, “Frozen Out”

Hao Zhou is a filmmaker and photographer from Nanchuan, China. Across mediums, Hao develops work with experimental tendencies, often centering LGBTQ+ characters and themes. His notable creative experiences include making two feature films, writing for Douban.com, and taking part in programs such as Cannes’ Cinéfondation Résidence, Xining FIRST, and Talents Tokyo. Hao’s work has been screened at numerous festivals, with awards or nominations at the Berlinale, Hong Kong, Black Movie, Nara, Queer Lisboa, China Independent, and others.

Ziyao Liu, “Could Have, Should Have”

Ziyao Liu is a Chinese writer/director/editor based in Los Angeles. She is an MFA candidate at UCLA directing program. She cares deeply about groups of people and subcultures that are not often seen on screen in both Chinese and American society. She creates films of a personal nature to generate empathy and understanding in people who are otherwise very different. She received her B.A. in film from University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she developed a midwestern work ethic.

For more information about Voices With Impact 2021, please visit Art With Impact.

Upcoming Dates

  • Thursday, June 24, 2021, 7:00 - 8:30 pm