An Open Letter to NYC: Can

Wednesday, March 23th, 6:30pm
The Maysles Cinema, Third World Newsreel and the Documentary Forum at City College Present:


At City College of New York
Shepard Hall
259 Convent Ave. (corner of 140th and Convent Ave.)
Rooms 290 and 291



with Korean and Vietnamese food
(Room 290)

(Room 291)

Pearl J. Park, 2013, 65 min.

What does it take to heal from mental illness? Can follows Can Truong, a refugee who was among the millions of boat people who fled Vietnam in 1979, as he searches for healing, dignity and recovery from depression and bipolar disorder. This film, which is one of the first feature documentaries about an Asian American dealing with mental illness, followed Can who became active in the national mental health consumer movement, a civil rights efforts by and for people with mental illnesses. Though he was once an outstanding scholar, Can was forced, due to his mental health issues, to leave the University of Chicago where he was undertaking pre-med studies in 1993.

During the following 12-year period, Can was hospitalized 6 times, tried more than 20 different medications, entered several clinical drug trials, and underwent 15 electroconvulsive shock treatments. Through it all, Can becomes a mental health recovery advocate — one of the few Asian Americans in the country. Representing the U.S. recovery movement, he attended the World Federation Mental Health Congress in Cairo, Egypt in 2005. Though many Southeast Asians are reluctant to seek psychiatric help in fear of shaming their family, the subject of our film defies many cultural norms, tries numerous healing modalities and fights for his recovery.

Q&A with first generation Korean American filmmaker Pearl J. Park and Vietnamese American editor Xuan Vu to follow the screening.

This program is part of An Open Letter to NYC:
Immigrant Documentary Filmmakers and Their Films

Starting with the periods before, during, between, and after the two world wars through to the present day, the American film industry would not exist without the immigrant filmmaker. In fact all contemporary American art and media, including the current documentary renaissance, is enlivened by and rooted in the modern immigrant experience. An Open Letter takes stock in immigrant, refugee and expatriate documentary filmmakers and/or documentary films about immigration and pays special attention to filmmakers from dominant and emerging NYC populations including those of Caribbean, Eastern European, Latin American, South and East Asian, Middle Eastern and West African descent. Programmed by Jessica Green and Edo Choi. Venues will include City College in Winter 2016, and City College and the Maysles Cinema in Spring 2016.

This series is supported by New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) as part of the 2016 Immigrant Cultural Initiative.