Sometimes, the magic of Hollywood can speed the progress of justice more quickly than all the judges and social workers in town.
In her two years as a prosecutor with the L. A. city attorney's office, Patricia Kinaga saw hundreds of battered women, many of whom refused to prosecute abusive husbands and boyfriends. The numbers seemed especially high among Asian women. "Domestic violence," says Kinaga, 39, "cuts across all cultural and economic lines, but women in the Asian community are often reluctant to prosecute. They have many barriers: language, religion, economic and emotional dependence on their husbands and a fear of being cast out from the community for making their personal problems public."
So in 1987, Kinaga wrote "About Love," a one-hour film about a Korean woman's struggle to decide whether to prosecute her violent husband. It took Kinaga five years to raise the $30,000 needed to make the film, but with the help of the Asian Pacific Women's Network, the city attorney's office and the support of various studios and corporations, she completed the film last year.
Last October, "About Love" debuted on KSCI, Channel 18, subtitled in four languages; that night the station was flooded with calls from women seeking help. Local women's shelters have since reported an increase in calls from Asians. The film was later aired in other states through KSCI affiliates, and Asian and women's groups across the country clamored for copies. Hundreds of copies are being sent to shelters, libraries and community centers. And early this year, Kinaga signed a deal with an international video distributor.
Kinaga now litigates city employee-relations cases, but she's keeping her options open in the film biz. "I want to make a feature-length drama about the 442nd, an all-Japanese-American infantry unit who fought during World War II," she says. "I've already written the treatment."