Adele Pham is a documentary filmmaker who grew up in Portland, Oregon. In Portland, she attended the Metropolitan Learning Center and Benson High School. She did not become interested in documentary filmmaking until she went to college in Oakland, California at Mills College. There, she was introduced to this form of storytelling. She continued her education at the New School in New York, where she was able to further her training as a documentary filmmaker. She has produced and directed multiple films, including Nailed It and Parallel Adele. She is currently working on a new film about hate crimes in Oregon titled State of Oregon.
In the first interview, Pham focuses on her biracial identity and what it was like to grow up in an interracial family in Portland during the 80s and 90s. She explains that her father’s role as a Vietnam war refugee framed the trajectory of his life, but that much about his traumatic past is still a mystery to her. She knows that he was able to escape Vietnam during the fall of Saigon through his status as a soldier in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, and bounced around in various aid programs in the United States until he settled in Portland. Pham then goes into more detail about how her parents met, which leads to discussion of her childhood. She recounts living near a house occupied by neo-Nazis and experiencing microaggressions at a young age. When describing her high school experience, she talks about the Vietnamese gangs that were popular during the 80s, and how the Vietnamese community came together to end the violence. She ends this interview by explaining how she became interested in documentary filmmaking and describes her creative process.
In her second interview, Pham describes her experience of living through the year 2020. At the time of our conversation, Pham was located in New York, one of the cities that was hit hardest by COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. She begins by addressing the most pressing challenges of the year: COVID-19, nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, and the upcoming election. Pham then discusses how these issues figure into research she has done for her upcoming documentary, State Of Oregon, which focuses on the legacy of the exclusionary laws and how they have naturalized whiteness and white supremacy in Oregon. Pham reflects on critical hate crimes in Portland’s history as well as her own experiences of white supremacy in Portland. She goes on to compare how New Yorkers reacted to the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19 versus her family and friends’ reactions in Portland. She ends by talking about the upcoming election and she asks listeners to vote and write in Teressa Raiford for mayor of Portland.