In KITES AND OTHER TALES, kite maker Tom Joe seeks to preserve the craft of kite making as well as the traditional Asian folklore behind it.

“Lyricism and visual beauty are evident in this film as three issei (first generation Japanese Americans) describe a collective history through their personal memories.”

Third World Newsreel
Synopsis: 

Visual Communications’ ability to marry documentary, history, and cultural folklore is on full display in this portrait of kite maker Tom Joe, who seeks to preserve the craft of kite making as well as the traditional Asian folklore behind it. Kitemaker Joe’s tales of Polynesian fish kites, Chinese fighting kites, and 20-foot fighting kites duels of “kite crazy” Shirone, Japan are brought to life through Alan Takemoto’s colorful illustations. As a teacher, Joe hands down these stories to his students, who are then inspired to make their own and watch as their imaginations manifest in the air. They get to see the magic of their simple creations fly, and get the “feeling [that] a part of you too, flying up there on a string”. A staple of the local and regional educational market upon its release, KITES & OTHER TALES inspires children of all ages and generations through inviting visuals and engrossing storytelling.

     KITES AND OTHER TALES is directed by Visual Communications co-founder Alan Ohashi, whose graphic design talents informed VC’s photographic exhibits including AMERICA’S CONCENTRATION CAMPS and photographic publication IN MOVEMENT: A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF ASIAN AMERICA. KITES AND OTHER TALES is one of four productions that are regarded as “Visual Communications Classics” for their incisive portraits of the Asian Pacific American experience.

Reviews

Director's Commentary: 

KITES AND OTHER TALES was made in 1975, and for this particular project I chose to focus on kites in Asia, which has a very long history. As an education tool for school children, I just wanted them to understand that these things that they fly in the air that seem very ‘American’ to them have a much longer history than that. That just goes back to presenting an Asian American cultural perspective without being heavy-handed about it…

— Excerpted from an interview conducted by Arthur Dong, August, 1990