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“Raya and the Last Dragon”, the latest Disney animated film, to fight anti-Asian racism

Raya and the last dragon is determined to put an end to prejudices. The film, which releases Friday March 5 in the United States, takes place in an imaginary universe inspired by different countries of Southeast Asia, where a young princess must find the dragon who can save the imaginary kingdom of Kumandra and reunite her. peoples, deeply divided.

To dub the voices in the original version, the world’s number one entertainment company has chosen stars of Asian origin such as Sandra Oh, Awkwafina, Kelly Marie Tran and Gemma Chan.

A paradox as the number of attacks targeting Asian individuals in the United States has jumped in recent months, fueled according to some observers by false clichés about the pandemic and the rhetoric of former President Donald Trump around the “chinese virus“.

We have all seen these assaults unfold, over and over again … sometimes we end up saying to ourselves that the world is really not right.said Kelly Marie Tran, American actress of Vietnamese descent who lends her voice to Raya. She herself was the victim of racist and misogynistic insults as well as cyber-harassment by some fans of the Star Wars universe after his role in “The Last Jedi“in 2017.

Several other members of the Raya and the last dragon have publicly expressed concern at the hostility and attacks targeting Asian communities in the United States. While racist motivations are still difficult to establish with certainty, the number of racist crimes targeting Asian victims more than doubled on average last year in major US cities, including New York and Los Angeles, according to a study. published by a California university.

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Raya and the last dragon offers a simple remedy for these evils: For the Five Kingdoms to survive, they will need to end self-centeredness and learn to trust each other. Beyond this message full of good intentions, the film crew also hopes that featuring princesses and other characters characteristic of a Southeast Asian culture will have a concrete impact on society and the representation of these communities.

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I never saw anything like it … And I have the impression that when it comes to the representation (of these cultures), it hasn’t changed for a very long time. long time“Said Sandra Oh.”It is exposure that results in understanding, and this understanding in turn changes perception“, estimates Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii 5-0), which overtakes Raya’s father.

Financially speaking, Disney of course has every interest in wooing the Asian market, especially the Chinese box office which is developing at a rapid pace. But film culture from Asia is on the rise in Hollywood, and elsewhere in the world. Last year the South Korean film Parasite caused a sensation at all festivals, winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes and then the Oscar for “best feature film“, becoming the first film shot in a language other than English to win the supreme award.

This year again, Threatening, which features an American family of South Korean origin, could shine, while Chinese director Chloé Zhao has just won two Golden Globes for Nomadland. Asked after her victory over the upsurge in attacks against Asians, Zhao replied: “Trying to see the world through each other’s eyes is the only way for us to survive as a species.. I sometimes feel like these people who have so much hate in them maybe just hate themselves “, she added.

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Qui Nguyen, co-writer of Raya and the last dragon, hopes the film will help raise awareness for some viewers. “Words have power. Let’s hope that this film is our word and our message to the world: Let’s be united ”, adds her colleague Adele Lim.

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