Blue Collar and Buddha

Blue Collar and Buddha Photo
Photo courtesy of Filmakers Library

Genre: Documentary
Ethnicity: Laotian American
Themes: Culture (Religion), Cultural Encounter & Misunderstanding,
Immigrant/Refugee Experience/Diaspora, Labor & Class Issues, Political/Legal Issues
Date: 1987
Running Time: 57 min.
Director: Taggart Seigel
Producers: Taggart Seigel & Kati Johnson

Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA)
College/Institution: $150 Purchase/$50 Rental
This dramatic documentary sensitively explores the dilemma of a community of Laotian refugees, torn between preserving their cultural identity and adapting to their new life in America.  Re-settling in Rockford, Illinois, they find their working class neighbors resent their economic gains.  With shocking clarity Rockford’s blue collar workers, many unemployed, voice their hatred of the newcomers, whom they confuse with their former enemies in Vietnam.  When the Laotians build a Buddhist temple, the monks are subject to terrorist attacks.  Town officials and clergymen respond to this crisis, some with indifference and others with concern.  The Laotians, for their part, have no other options but to stay in Rockford, working hard to make a better life for their children. (Courtesy of Filmakers Library)

Cliff, Janet M.  "Film reviews — Blue Collar and Buddha by Kati Johnston and Taggart Siegel."  Western Folklore.  April 1992.  (Available through Proquest)

Handman, Gary.  "Blue Collar and Buddha."  American Libraries.  December 1998. (Available through Proquest)

Koehler, Robert.  "TV Reviews: ‘New to America’ Series on Immigrants."  Los Angeles Times.  May 13, 1994.  (Available through Proquest)

Lambrecht, Winnie.  "Film Reviews: Blue Collar and Buddha."  American Anthropologist.  June 1990.

Asian American Filmography ExEAS