Respect For All Week Screens Documentary “All in My Family”

Stuyvesant SPARK hosted a screening of the documentary “All in My Family” as part of Respect for All week.

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SPARK, an additional counseling service at Stuyvesant, hosted its annual Respect for All Week from February 11 to February 14. The week consisted of daily after-school talk circles and events, which aimed to “highlight and build upon ongoing diversity programs and curriculum-based instruction,” according to the Stuyvesant website. It included events such as Stuy Unity Day, talk circles around hate and race forums, and a spoken word and talk circle around tolerance. As part of the occasions, SPARK hosted a screening of Director Hao Wu’s documentary “All in My Family,” along with a Q&A session with Wu on February 13.

The documentary focuses on queer families having children, reconciling with generational conflict, and the response to sexuality in Chinese communities. “When my partner and I wanted to have kids through surrogacy, my family’s reaction was so negative that it took me by surprise,” Wu said. “I started shifting the end goal [of the movie] from how difficult my family was [to] how they reacted to us wanting to have kids—how they were against it in the beginning, and how they were gradually turning around.”

To bring the documentary to Stuyvesant, Wu collaborated with SPARK and the administration. “I was introduced to [Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services] Casey [Pedrick] through a parent for something related to my new film, and then I was thinking, maybe it would be nice to screen it,’” Wu said. “I was curious to see how high school artists would react. And [Pedrick], having watched it before she met me, loved the film. She said, ‘Okay great, let’s make it happen.’”

After getting in touch with the directors, SPARK advisor Angel Colon suggested screening the film during Respect for All week. “[Wu] was looking for a platform. Hearing his story, and watching the movie, I said, ‘You know what? This connects so much with the community here—especially the Asian American community,’” Colon said.

The screening provided an opportunity for Stuyvesant students to see themselves represented in media. “Representation is important,” Pedrick said. “For a school that is majority Asian to be able to see an Asian film-maker for one thing, and then someone who is gay and had to go through coming out to his family, and [to see] him partnered up and raising two children—all of those things are very important for anyone who identifies in any of those areas.”

Along with the administration, Wu hopes the various themes conveyed in “All in My Family” will resonate with the Stuyvesant student body. “As it’s called, the film is about different generations and reconciling their differences and different views and value systems,” Wu said. “I want the kids who watch the film to view it as a family story, to how a family can still negotiate internal conflicts and try to be together, because of love.”

Senior Viola Casper-Schulte, a member of SPARK, attended the screening and enjoyed the documentary. “‘All in My Family’ was an incredible film. While queer narratives are gaining more mainstream popularity, they tend to fit snugly into teenage coming-of-age stories,” Casper-Schulte said in an e-mail interview. “To see that our life extends past hectic teenage years, into a place of domestic stability, was inspiring. It’s too hard for many of us to even conceive of a future at all.”

While the film left a strong impression on Stuyvesant’s queer and Asian-American communities especially, Colon hoped the documentary—and Respect for All week as a whole—would encourage greater participation in diversity initiatives at Stuyvesant. “We all share this community here. Obviously our cultures [and] histories are different, but there [are] a lot of commonalities. That’s the one thing that sometimes gets lost,” Colon said. “I would hope that with these initiatives, it would have some kind of effect on the community in terms of being more involved in these things that we can be more united in.”