LOS ALTOS, CA (April 20, 2021) – In recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Los Altos History Museum presents an online film-screening of “The Valley,” an artistic exploration of teen suicide, the Asian American immigrant experience and the high-achievement culture of Silicon Valley. Slated for Friday, May 7 at 7pm, the viewing will be followed by a conversation between award-winning journalist and chair of the Museum’s Oral History Program Committee Suruchi Mohan and the film’s writer, director and producer, Los Altos filmmaker Saila Kariat.
Kariat’s feature directorial debut tells the story of Neal Kumar, a successful Indian American entrepreneur whose idyllic life unravels after his daughter dies by suicide during her freshman year of college. As he desperately seeks answers, his family struggles to remain intact in a culture where human connection is difficult to maintain. “The Valley” participated in over twenty film festivals and won best feature film in five festivals.
“The film was motivated by the confluence of personal events, the culture I witnessed, and incidents of suicide which occurred in Silicon Valley,” Kariat said. “I wanted to focus particularly on Asian American immigrant cultures, because the stigma of mental health issues, and the pressure to ‘save face’ is far higher amongst Asian Americans. The perception that you have to earn the space you take up can cause intense workaholism and stress.”
Kariat is a high achiever herself. After obtaining her Ph.D. in electrical engineering, she worked as a product engineering manager at IBM. Becoming the mother of two girls prompted her to discontinue working for corporations and start a residential construction company. She pursued her education in film in parallel, obtaining a degree from San Jose State University. Kariat has completed three other feature screenplays, “Gods and Demons,” “Love in the Time of Corona,” and “I Was Never Awake.”
“At the heart of most suicides are mental health issues, particularly anxiety and depression,” she said. “The success oriented, high pressure culture of Silicon Valley particularly triggers and worsens these problems. COVID-19, online learning and isolation, and increasing hate crimes against Asians have only exacerbated the issue. The film is aimed at reducing stigma, illuminating mental health problems and how they often go undetected, and bringing light to the complicated web of causes of suicide. It encourages parents and those who are suffering to realign their priorities and to offer and seek help.”
The program is free to attend. To receive the Zoom link, register at losaltoshistory.org/TheValleyScreening.
Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.
The Museum is open Friday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. The J. Gilbert Smith House remains temporarily closed. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, visit: losaltoshistory.org, email email@example.com, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.
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Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10, firstname.lastname@example.org