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NYWIFT Member Screening Series: CAN

Join us this month for a screening of CAN!

The NYWIFT Member Screening Series provides members with the opportunity to show their work in a theatrical setting. The screenings are held at the Anthology Film Archives, followed by networking at a nearby bar. 

CAN was directed by NYWIFT member Pearl Park. A Q&A will immediately follow the screening.


What does it take to heal from mental illness? This documentary follows 33-year old Can Truong, a war refugee who was among the millions of boat people who fled Vietnam in 1979, as he searches for healing, dignity and recovery from bipolar disorder. 

Over twelve years, Truong tried more than 20 different medications, was hospitalized seven times and underwent 15 electroconvulsive treatments with little success. Fighting despair and suicidal impulses, he embarks on a different kind of healing journey — trying to reconcile cultural differences with his traditional Confucian father and making sense of his childhood wounds. Despite the stigma surrounding mental illness, Truong becomes active in the national civil rights movement for people with mental illnesses.

Can is one of the first documentary films to highlight mental illness issues from an Asian American perspective, bringing attention to a national disparity. Due to cultural and systemic barriers, Asian Americans utilize mental health services at significantly lower rates than the general US population. Southeast Asian refugees like Truong experience extremely high rates of mental illness (60-80%) due to the traumatic experience of war in their countries of origin. Many Southeast Asians are reluctant to seek psychiatric support for fear of shaming their families. 

Typically viewed as the model minority, the overall Asian American population experiences mental illness at the same rates as other populations in the US, but has less access to the quality care than other major minority groups. 


For more information on CAN

Pearl J. Park
has been using CAN to break the silence about Asian American mental illness and contribute to the broader public discourse about mental health and cultural competency. She has presented her work at Yale, NYU, Columbia, the Alternatives Annual Conference and the Arizona Public Health Association. In 2012, she was a featured speakers for the Korean American Behavioral Health Association Conference, and screened CAN at the Advancing Justice Conference, a joint project of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Asian American Institute, Asian American Justice Center and Asian Law Caucus. She currently serves on the Board of Disability Rights New Jersey and the Advisory Board of the New Jersey Asian American Association for Human Services.

As a multimedia professional with over 20 years of experience in corporate communications, she is particularly passionate about harnessing the power of mass media to affect social and political change. Park is a member of New York Women in Film & Television and the Independent Feature Project.


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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events
are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York
State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and
the New York State Legislature.