Synopsis: Rumi wrote “keep your eyes on the bandaged place; that is where the light enters you.” This hourlong documentary features three Asian American men in mid- to later-life: Ravi Chandra, Truong Tran, and QiRe Ching. They are all artists in one or more media, two are psychotherapists, and all have been affected by AIDS and the twin pandemics of COVID and more visibly surfacing wounds of racial trauma. Their identities ‘don’t fit’ in significant ways, and so expression and relationship have become powerful affirmations. In poetry, reflection and conversation, their odysseys of alienation, intransigence, creativity and repair bring the viewer to the great depth needed in our fraught times. This documentary illuminates the wounds they carry, and showcases the light generated by staying close to vulnerability with insight, compassion, and relationship in the midst of suffering and loss. Viewers are opened to a space of grief, rage and resolve. We rarely see Asian American men of these ages on film, speaking candidly. “The Bandaged Place” is an antidote to our cultural blindness for diverse identities, and our unwillingness to hear men’s insights born of vulnerability. From the margins comes a new vision for how society might better center itself for the road ahead.
This is my first film project, though I wrote about film for over 14 years as the San Francisco CAAMFest Superfan blogger. George Floyd was murdered on my birthday, intensifying my connection with racial justice and Black Lives. I was also deeply dismayed by the lack of compassion evinced by President Trump and other powerful people for either Black Lives or those threatened or killed by COVID. I felt that as a psychiatrist, artist, and Buddhist, I could not be silent, and needed to do everything in my power to help shift our consciousness and conversation, and also bring the stories of Asian Americans to light.
Ravi Chandra immigrated from India as a toddler to the American South. He grew up in Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, and Michigan before attending Brown University and Stanford Medical School and completing his residency in psychiatry at UCSF. He works primarily in private practice in San Francisco now, but has also worked in community mental health as a staff psychiatrist and a medical director. He blogs for Psychology Today and East Wind eZine, and for 14 years wrote the “Memoirs of a Superfan” blog for the Center for Asian American Media. He has published several nonfiction books, including an award-winning book on social media, and a book of poetry, as well as being included in the first anthology of South Asian American poetry. In 2019-2020 he was an SFAC grant recipient for poetry, and is well known in the community for artistic engagement and performance as well as teaching compassion classes and delivering presentations of significance. He has lectured many times at local and national psychiatric conferences, and continues to volunteer for community mental health, as well as leading compassion workshops and facilitating healing circles for social change.