Books: Toiling for Gold

Early Chinese immigrants made no distinction between Canada and the United States when traveling to "Gold Mountain," their colloquialism


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Books: Toiling for Gold

Early Chinese immigrants made no distinction between Canada and the United States when traveling to "Gold Mountain," their colloquialism for North America. In David H.T. Wong's graphic novel Escape to Gold Mountain (Arsenal, $19.95), racial prejudice knows no borders, either. Accessible in a way that dry history textbooks are not, his account covers the hardships of Chinese-Canadians (and -Americans) over the span of 150 years. Although the comic-book format makes some serious moments darkly funny, one reads with horror about atrocities once commonplace in our backyard. Did you know that Chinese hop farmers were slaughtered in their tents in Issaquah? Or that, also in 1885, Tacoma's Chinatown was burned to the ground by racists, giving the name "Tacoma Method" to similar scare tactics across the nation? These often-untold tales add gravity to an already somber account inspired by the Vancouver, B.C., author's own family history. Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E. Prospect St., Volunteer Park, 654-3100, Free. 7 p.m. JEVA LANGE

Film: Tall and Spotted

For the Children's Film Festival (now in its eighth year), parents always need to consider how old their kids need to be for a given movie. Opening the fest, the animated French Zarafa is subtitled—meaning second-grade reading skills are required. Then there's the Bambi-like death of an animal mother and the subjects of colonialism and slavery in the Sudan, circa 1827. NWFF recommends 8 as the minimum age, but I'd qualify that as a very mature, non-squirmy 8 for this 78-minute adventure. In other words, Zarafa requires some patience. Fleeing from slavers, little Maki befriends an orphaned giraffe meant to be an Arab gift to King Charles X of France, where long-lashed Zarafa ends up as a popular zoo attraction. (That last bit is actually true.) This entails a balloon ride over the Mediterranean, a comely pirate queen, a crash in the snowy, wolf-infested Alps, then a long stay in Paris—lovingly rendered by Jean-Christophe Lie, one of the animators behind 2003's The Triplets of Belleville. Maki's comic-historical journey borrows bits from Tintin and Victor Hugo; and if, after the movie, your kids ask about slavery and the ethics of animal captivity, it'll have some educational benefit, too. (The festival, which features 120 films from 38 countries, runs through Feb. 3.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$10. 7 p.m. (Also: 1 p.m. Sun., Feb. 3.) BRIAN MILLER

Dance: The Shock of the Old

Igor Stravinsky's score for Le Sacre du Printemps has been raising eyebrows since it premiered 100 years ago, with a performance that ended in a riot. Since then, it's been a challenge for choreo-graphers and audiences—an artist needs real guts to take it on. Montreal-based Compagnie Marie Chouinard has plenty of daring, and choreographer Chouinard's eclectic movement style—combining high-intensity modern dance with experimental theatrics—launches her Rite of Spring directly into the middle of the controversy. The UW Symphony Orchestra will perform the score, as part of the on-campus Rite of Spring Centennial Celebration, which includes other dance performances, lectures, and presentations. Also on the bill tonight is Chouinard's hyperkinetic 24 Preludes by Chopin, accompanied by local pianist Brooks Tran. (Through Sat.) Meany Hall, UW campus, 543-4880, $38–$42. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ


Visual Arts: Wild Style

Africa is usually in the news for all the wrong reasons, with its civil wars and ethnic conflicts. Then there's the Sapeurs subculture of Brazzaville (in the Congo Republic), dating to the '60s, which you never read about. Its name is derived from the acronym SAPE—the Sociéte des ambianceurs et des personnes élegantes. (Roughly translated: the Society of Party Revelers and Elegant Persons.) Photographing these dandy Sapeurs since the mid-'90s is Baudouin Mouanda, who'll attend the opening of his first U.S. show. Trained in Kinshasa and Paris, Mouanda is very much a street photographer, a fashionista in the tradition of Bill Cunningham who seeks out beauty, frivolity, and excess. His frames explode with giddy, defiant finery—there's no miserablism here. His subjects are proud peacocks, like the zoot-suited throngs of postwar L.A. or the Mods of '60s London, who strut in the public square in wild hues and giddy patterns. There are no drab military uniforms or reminders of the carnage upriver; these are the garments of aspiration and joy. Red is just another extravagant color, not a reminder of blood. (Through March 2.) M.I.A Gallery, 1203 Second Ave., 467-4927, Free. Opening reception: 6–8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER


Stage: Burning With Experience

Marcos and Rubina Carmona have been performing in Seattle and elsewhere as Carmona Flamenco for almost 40 years, in an art form that showcases experience. They've done big theater gigs, but lately they've been concentrating on their cabaret show, an intimate performance that springs from the early roots of flamenco. Rubina, who began as a dancer, has matured into an astonishing singer; she hosts a core group including Marcos on the guitar and their son David Carmona on percussion. Ana Montes, in her prime as a dancer, will tonight join this family show, concentrating the energy that would fill a 1,000-seat house into a space smaller than your living room. The Carmonas keep talking about retiring—come see them before they take a final bow. Cafe Solstice, 4116 University Way N.E., 932-4067, $20. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ


Film: Coastal Disturbances

A port city with a long history of Asian immigration, Seattle is the perfect setting for New York novelist Julie Otsuka to talk about the illegal World War II internment of Japanese-Americans (the subject of her 2002 novel When the Emperor Was Divine). And you couldn't ask for a better stage interlocutor than novelist Jamie Ford, whose father wore an "I Am Chinese" button here during his '40s childhood—to avoid being confused with despised Japanese-Americans. (This was the subject of Ford's 2009 novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, set in the ID, where he grew up; today he lives in Montana.) Ford, whose great-grandfather changed the family surname from Chung, and Otsuka will tonight discuss immigration, assimilation, and Otsuka's most recent novel, 2011's The Buddha in the Attic, about mail-order Japanese brides in the early 20th century. Whether of Chinese or Japanese ancestry, families up and down the West Coast have long been rocked by waves from across the Pacific, their loyalty and patriotism called into question. Then the storm passes, and it's left to the writers—including David H.T. Wong, above—to make sense of the wreckage. Presented by Seattle Arts & Lectures. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., 621-2230, $5–$70. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

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