Category Archives: LOOK AT US NOW, MOTHER! Updates

What I Discovered Reading My Childhood Diaries As An Adult


The anticipation was great. It had been nearly three years filled with concern and fear. I decided to take a trip down memory lane. It was all going fine. Not too many bumps in the road. Little bumps that I was able to go over with ease. As I began to go further back, I knew in order to be true in my sharing of the past, I needed to find my childhood diaries. That is where I escaped to, writing and drawing in books which I worked so hard to hide — however, not always successfully. More than once, I discovered my diary lying on my bed when I returned from school. I began to question whether I left it there and then soon realized it was not me who placed it there.

I searched for my childhood secrets. Went into my closets, pulling out cartons in hopes of finding them. But each carton I pulled out was filled with other things, from old framed pictures to plaques and awards to pages of storyboards 35 years old when I use to design multimedia shows. Those were the days way before we used computers and artists and designers worked on drawing boards using T-squares, triangles, X-Acto knives, rapidographs, magic markers and charcoal. I remember having accidents with the X-Acto knife and accidentally cutting myself–I still have the scars — and getting charcoal on my hands and clothing. A storyboard then, was a one of kind, an original that if lost would be gone forever, just like my diaries. They were hand written and never duplicated. They were not digital files that were backed up by Time Machine on an external hard drive or put up in the cloud. They existed in one place, the original place they were created.

I continued my search without much luck. I even took out my 12-foot ladder, a necessity when your home has 12-foot ceilings. I opened the highest closets and managed to take down heavy taped and sealed cartons without losing my balance. With my trusty single edge razor left over from the days I did graphics, I opened up the boxes. Still no diaries found. Where could they be? Perhaps when my parents moved to Florida they were thrown away. I did not think so but my memory is probably my weakest link. If someone tells me I did something which I have no recollection of, I invariably believe them. I always think how wonderful it would be to have someone follow me around recording my life so it would not be lost.

It was getting late and I was ready to give up. As I climbed up the ladder again to return one of the cartons, I noticed a box in the back. I reached in and managed to get it, almost dropping it as I carried it down and set it on my table. In black marker, it said on the back “Diaries”. I slit the tape and opened the box. There, inside were all my diaries stacked one on top of the other. I sat down and began reading every page of every diary. I found myself transitioning back to my childhood. My head started to hurt me and I felt my eyes welling up. Soon, I could not stop the tears from falling. I had gone back to a time that I wished had never happened, a time I was happy was in my long ago past. I felt brittle and sad and angry. I knew then that I had found what I needed to share with the world in order for them to experience what I had experienced.

These private diaries–never meant to be seen by anyone, not in my lifetime–were now going to be exposed to the public. The only decision that would have to be made was which entries would I share and where would they appear in the film. I had come so far and there was no turning around now.

Read the original article published on Huffington Post POST50 HERE

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Confucianism, Parenting and Abuse

I am not familiar with the term “child abuse”. When I think about my childhood, my parents did spank me, yell at me, criticized my actions, and other behaviors that hurt me. Do these actions count as abuse? Maybe.


Confucianism had been the moral standard in China for more than two thousands years. Although contemporary Chinese people no longer emphasize and treat Confucius ethics and philosophy as the only standard, his teaching and ideologies have been rooted deeply in Chinese society. Confucianism highly values the importance of filial piety, and believes obedience is the way to show filial piety to parents. In terms of family hierarchy and roles, parents are in more superior positions than their children. Based on such family construction, parents and children are not very close to each other. On one hand, children love and rely on their parents, and on the other hand, since parents are more superior, children must respect and obey them. Disobedience was traditionally viewed unethical and un-filial.

Filial Piety

I barely remembered why my parents beat me, yelled at me or criticized me, but I just remembered they did. When I talked to my friends about childhood abuse, we shared about the same experience. We remembered the tools that parents used to beat us, but we all forgot the reason why the conflicts started. And usually, the fights between my parent and I ended up with either seeking for help from my grandparents, and the other parent if my father and my mother were not at the same battle line, or I apologizing for whatever I did, though I did not admit in my heart. December 29th, 2007, it was my 17th birthday. I went back to my hometown and planned to celebrate with relatives and friends (I was in Christmas holiday, but my cousin wasn’t). My cousin came back from school during lunchtime, and my grandparents insisted him to take a nap, but my cousin wanted to play computer games with me. My grandparents were angry with him. To resolve the problem, my father slapped my face, blamed me for distracting my cousin’s nap and disobeying my grandparents. I felt humiliated and ran away from home for couple hours. In the end, my mother and aunt pacified me on the phone and asked me to come back to the party to protect everyone’s face, and my father never apologized to me. That was the worst birthday I’ve ever had. I wasn’t in the mood for party at all. Every time I think about this moment, I still felt angry with my father and hurtful. My father owed me an apology, but I cannot ask it back.

When I was little, every time my parents criticized me or beat me, I thought it might be my fault. When I grew up, I realized that my parents were not always right; it was just they were afraid to lose face in front of me. Most of conflicts between my parents and I ended up in silence, and we both chose to not mention them. This is usually how Chinese parenting looks like. Confucianism filial piety rooted in the culture so deeply, so individuals hardly change. I believe my parents were raised in the same way, or even worse. Right now, I do communicate with my parents often and we sometimes talked about my childhood, starting to understand each other. However, from my observation, my parents barely communicated with their parents. I think that’s how society evolves from generation to generation. Individual’s abilities are limited, but through education and acquiring more new information, deeply rooted ideologies can change.

Most of my friends and I are the first generation of one-child since the One Child Policy has been implemented in early 80s. We attracted the full attention from family. As the only child of my family, I know my parents love me and I was born in the right family. However, their behaviors in my childhood were still considered abusive. I shared the story of Look At Us Now, Mother! with my friends, the story ensembles ours. As Sigmund Freud says, “unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” All conflicts must be resolved, otherwise accumulating the unpleasant emotions inside will lead to explosion in the future. I like the way that Gayle Kirschenbaum chooses in the movie to remember and examine the past, and then forgives her mother. However, for me, the situation is different and more complicated. It is the culture. I experienced my parents’ love and criticism at the same time. Therefore, I choose to forget and forgive. Comparing to the love that they gave me, the abuse and harm are negligible. I don’t attempt to change the culture, but one day if I were parent, I would not treat my children in the same way as my parents did.

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About ME: Anna Chen

My name is Anna Chen. I am an assistant intern to producer at Kirschenbaum Productions. I recently graduated from University of Wisconsin Madison, double majoring in Communication Arts and Economics. I will graduate from college in 3.5 years. This spring, while my classmates are still striving to get high GPA in their final semester and suffering from the Wisconsin extremely cold weather, I “escaped”. I feel very thankful for the opportunity to work at Kirschenbaum Productions. It is my first full time position and a transition point in my life.

Anna_Green hairME: Anna Chen

An internship at Kirschenbaum Productions is an ideal position for me. When I decided my major in college, I thought I would become a filmmaker. However, after two years of studying, I realized that filmmakers are artists, whereas I am an artistic economist. Compare to film aesthetics, I am more interested in film distribution and promotion. In between my undergraduate study and graduate study, I believe that my time working for Kirschenbaum Productions, covering range of duties from social media to assistant in post production, is a perfect fit for me. I would love to dedicate the knowledge and abilities that I learned from school to workplace and hope to gain experience in the industry. Therefore, I really appreciate this opportunity.

To describe myself, I have contradictory personalities. On one hand, I am artistic and creative, but on the other hand, I am rational and good at math. My undergraduate majors that I chose were totally unrelated, that’s why my academic life was very tough. It was very hard to switch from film aesthetic thinking to economic rational thinking, but after three years of studying, I will get used to it. Working in film entertainment industry is my dream, and studying economics was just an accident. I have never thought about getting a bank job. The most interesting part of learning economics is that I have improved my drawing skills. I barely remembered the models and concepts, but I am able to hand-draw straight lines, curves and tangents after these classes. It was an unexpected outcome.

I have various interests. I love painting. I started learning traditional Chinese painting since kindergarten. When my skills became proficient, I dedicated my efforts in drawing bamboos, one of the spiritual plants in China. I believe this was the first moment that kindled my interests in arts. Besides painting, I like music very much. I like not only pop music that most young people like, but also classic music. I have played the flute for 7 years, and I was the flute player in my high school orchestra. However, my love for music just stayed as a hobby, I didn’t attempt to enhance it and turn it to my career. My interests for film started in high school. At that time, short funny clips were very prevalent among my classmates, watching these short online clips everyday. I tried to make one funny clip through Windows MovieMaker, and presented in to my classmates during class presentation, which made all of my classmates and teacher laughed, and I felt proud of it.

Tokyo 2014_AnnaTokyo 2013 Summer

My background and experience allowed me to experience different cultures. I traveled a lot and I love travelling. Travelling not only allows me to experience different cultures, but also motivates me to learn different languages. Learning foreign language is a painful process, that’s why so far, I am still not very confident with my English, since it’s my second language. I have travelled to South Korea to take SAT alone. Because I didn’t know a single word in Korean, I was unable to order foods and almost got lost in Seoul. This experience motivated me to learn a third foreign language: Japanese. Therefore, I have learned three semesters of Japanese and I felt very comfortable when I traveled to Japan last summer. My travel experience led me to rethink the process of learning. Active learning is always more efficient than passive receiving. I can apply this to video production as well. I know the need of what to learn, and I actively seek for the strategies to resolve the problem.

Working at Kirschenbaum Productions covers various range of duties. I, an active learner, will be able to apply different knowledge and abilities to fit this position. I really appreciate Gayle’s passion and persistence on making her movies. These qualities are invaluable for me to absord in order to succeed in my future career.


Random facts about me:

  • Favorite film star: Keira Knightley, Natalie Portman
  • Favorite film: Atonement
  • Favorite animation: Pokemon, Doraemon Pikachu
  • Favorite documentary filmmaker: Werner Herzog
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We Want to Hear Your Story

As we say here at Kirschenbaum Productions every person has a story and now we can hear yours through our “Share Your Story” page located up at the top of the menu bar right here on our blog. There readers can leave their own stories in the comment section, it can be anonymous, so you don’t have to leave your name if you don’t want to. You will also be able to read and post a comment on other people’s stories as well.

So if you have an interesting, insightful, emotional, or just funny story about a family member, friend or someone you’ve had a difficult relationship with leave us a comment on our Share Your Story page, we want to read it.


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BEHIND THE SCENES at Kirschenbaum Productions #1

Hello all! Check out the behind the scenes of Look At Us Now, Mother! Watch Gayle & her staff as they work hard to produce this wonderful documentary and create a following! Get excited! We are on a roll here at Kirschenbaum Productions! Behind the scenes video edited by Ryan Polukord

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Behind the Scenes look at Look At Us Now, Mother!

Behind the Scenes of Look At us Now, Mother!

Hello all! Check out the behind the scenes of Look At Us Now, Mother! Watch Gayle & her staff as they work hard to produce this wonderful documentary and create a following!

Get excited! We are on a roll here at Kirschenbaum Productions!

Behind the scenes video edited by Ryan Polukord

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Lots of news

Sorry for my silence on this blog for such a long time. We’ve been working away on My Nose: The Bigger Version which is being retitled to Look at us now, Mother.  We have an amazing staff and just brought on an editor. I’m currently in Florida shooting. Just brought mom together with the last of her few surviving first cousins.  They range in age from 88 to 95.  You can’t believe how well they are doing.
One of these women is 95 years old.  Guess who?   Can you recognize mom?  Must get back work.  Just shot for two long days. Found Dad’s WWII photos. He was stationed in the South Pacific (New Caledonia) and fought in Guadalcanal. If anyone out knows someone who was also stationed there during the war, please let me know.  Have a great day!

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Mom’s Helpful Hints #2 Packing Light

Hi all,
Today I bring you Mom’s Helpful #3 on Packing Light.  We have been traveling together since my father passed away in 2006.  Our trips have taken us all around the world including India, Israel, Portugal and Italy.  Mom only travels with a carry-on bag.  It doesn’t matter how long we are away or how far we go, she manages to take all she needs in one little bag. Me, well, that’s a different story. I’m always concerned that I have enough clothing that will cover all seasons.

Mom has the answers how to manage all that you need in one little suitcase that you take on the plane.  It’s safer in many ways. You don’t risk losing your bag and you don’t have wait for it to come off the plane.  You land and you are on your way, that is once you get through immigration and customs.  Easy and fast way to travel.

And if you want to learn more about our upcoming film, please visit our Kickstarter campaign and please consider joining our team by participating and becoming a backer.  It doesn’t take much and you get a lot.

Have a great day!
Much love,


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My interview with Dr. Jen

Hi all,

Check out the interview I did with Dr. Jen.  She is an amazing woman. Pediatrician by day and blogger by night and the mother of 4.

Please become a healer and join our campaign on Kickstarter.  We need your help to help others!! We are on our way.

Have a great day!

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My story and you

I’m making an important film that will serve to help many people — people who are suffering from growing up with a critical and abusive parent, people who have been struggling with low self-esteem and body image their whole lives, people who for years have been carrying anger and resentment towards the people who have caused them harm.
I was the youngest of three children — the only girl after two boys, so you’d think my mother won the lottery when she finally gave birth to a female. That’s not what happened, however, and I came into this world feeling like Cinderella. My mother turned her anger turned towards me and nothing I did was ever right. I left home when I was 16 and that’s when my journey to recovery began. I was so damaged that I thought if my mother died I would be liberated.

Today, she is my closest friend and I love her dearly. It took many years
and lots of hard work, tears, and pain to get to where we are now. A few years ago, I began giving seminars teaching others how to transform their own difficult relationships.

I made an award winning comedic short about my mother’s attempts to convince me to have a nose job called MY NOSE. It succeeded beyond expectations with many people relating to it on different levels. Due to the audience hunger for more I decided it was time to tell our story by going deeper by opening up my life for a more complex film. My mother agreed to allow cameras in and we’ve been shooting for the last several years.

We now need your help to finish the film. We have interest from several broadcasters and distributors. They are all waiting for a rough cut and we need funds to get there.

We have launched a Kickstarter campaign, an online platform that many people are using to raise money for their endeavors. The concept is crowd-funding, it’s all about numbers, the more people who know about it and get behind it the better chance to reach our goal and raise our funds.

For me, Kickstarter is not only about raising the money we desperately need but also about building a community and an audience. All I want to do is finish this film and get it out to the world.

In less than 22 hours we have raised $1655. Please take a look at the campaign, there are trailers and lots to see and please consider donating.
If you like it, spreading the word to your universe will help us tremendously through FB, Twitter or however else you share.

Have a wonderful day!!



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