She Pab: Voices of Hmong Women hosted their second film festival on Friday, March 10 to a crowd twice the size as the previous year. This year’s themes were folk tales and superstitions, and the films explored the prevalent stories told within Hmong culture. The event was held in the JDA and featured ten short films that explored many superstitions prevalent in Hmong legends.
She Pab meets bi-monthly and serves as a gathering place of support for Hmong women. “Their mission is to increase awareness of Hmong culture and work with the Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity program to promote awareness of the Hmong minor,” stated Pa Lor, the advisor for She Pab. Kelly Yang, the treasurer of She Pab, said the group “gives a general sense of community and brings together Hmong women.” Every meeting of She Pab has a different theme to it.
The films came from St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s) students as well as many other creators in the Hmong community. The advisory board to She Pab sent out a call for video submissions by emailing other Hmong college clubs and posting their notice on Facebook.
Each of the films presented explored a variety of superstitions that persist through Hmong culture. One film, Tswv Xyas by Hillary Lor, ‘17, unraveled the truth about Tswv Xyas, a presumed tiger ghost that takes away the souls of the talented or good looking. “That ghost is my great uncle,” said Lor. In the process of making the film, Lor interviewed her grandfather who told his version of Tswv Xyas’ story. “Having the opportunity to interview him, I actually looked in his eyes…we bonded. I never realized how much time had passed,” Lor explained.
She also explored the internet to see what other people have said about Tswv Xyas. The film aimed to disengage the myth about Tswv Xyas being a tiger ghost and reveal what the actual Tswv Xyas was like. Lor hopes that viewers will think about which story they want to believe after seeing her film.
“I’m really thankful She Pab created a space for storytellers to come and tell their stories,” said Lor. The group members of She Pab even created their own video, a comedic piece about the Hmong superstition of not pointing at the moon. Other themes that were explored in the films were respect and treatment for elders, loss, and fear of losing language and culture as generations grow up.
Rocky Pierson, ’18, worked on the illustration for an audio piece created by another St. Kate’s student, Pa Ying Vang. Their film, Noir, depicts the experiences of refugees from Vietnam, both at home and the reception they received coming over to the United States. “It was a really cool collaboration,” said Pierson, who works with Ying Vang at the Hilton Sisters project on campus.
Overall, this year’s film festival engaged more people than it did last year, and was able to reach more members of the St. Kate’s community. The film festival also served as a fundraiser, as She Pab hopes to attend the Hmong National Development Conference in Milwaukee this April. You can find more about She Pab on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/shepab.stkate/