Taiwanese American: Erin Li Brings Filmmaking and Storytelling to Life



TaiwaneseAmerican.org was one of the first sites to cover L.A. COFFIN SCHOOL before the film premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.  I was fortunate enough to later meet the founder of TaiwaneseAmerican.org, Ho Chie Tsai, at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, and thank him personally for his support and community work.

Here is an excerpt from the original article:

“Erin’s film, L.A. Coffin School, which stars Elizabeth Sung, Michelle Krusiec, Jerry Ying, Megan Lee Angela Ai and Danni Lang, had the rare honor of being selected as one of the ten films sponsored by a Visual Communications “Armed With A Camera” Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists. All ten films screened as part of the “VC Digital Posse Ver. 2011” Program on May 1st at the Director’s Guild of America. Here, Erin answers some questions about her film and what’s next for her down the line.



T: How do you feel your background as a Taiwanese American filmmaker and artist informs or influences your work? Were there particular themes or ideas (particularly involving generational conflict or spirituality themes) that were really tied to more overarching cultural themes or experiences or things you’ve experienced first hand?

E: Growing up with parents who had emigrated from Taiwan, I wanted to tell a story that touches upon some facets of the Asian American experience and some of the generational conflicts and acculturation issues that often arise within immigrant families. I also wanted to create L.A. Coffin School in part to shed light on the elderly Asian American community, in particular elderly Asian women, which is a demographic group with one of the highest suicide rates in the US. L.A. COFFIN SCHOOL touches upon the story of just one of these women. Although the film sounds heavy, I did try to inject humorous moments into the characters.

While conducting research for this film, I came across numerous articles and studies that shed light on the high suicide rate among elderly Asian women in the U.S. The causes range from acculturation stress and language barriers to poverty, illness, weakened family support and social isolation.Asian Americans as a whole are the least likely demographic group to seek treatment for mental illness. Shame and cultural stigmas against acknowledging mental illness play a major role. Interestingly enough, there are actual “coffin academies” in existence. Companies in South Korea often enroll their employees in coffin academies as part of their orientation activities. The experience is supposed to help students view life with a new perspective, force you to confront what really matters and cherish your life when you “graduate” from the academy. This may also be one method that they are implementing to remedy and address the high suicide rate in the country. I’m currently adapting this project into a feature film and plan to enroll in a coffin academy to experience the process firsthand. It should be an interesting experience and I’m looking forward to it!”

Full article here.