HOLLYWOOD CHINESE Screening – Wednesday, April 1, 7pm, Broad Performance Space, Pitzer College
In person: Arthur Dong (Director)
Hollywood Chinese is a captivating revelation on a little-known chapter of cinema: the Chinese in American feature films. From the first Chinese American film produced in 1916, to Ang Lee’s triumphant Brokeback Mountain nine decades later, Hollywood Chinese brings together a fascinating portrait of actors, directors, writers, and iconic images to show how the Chinese have been imagined in movies, and how filmmakers have and continue to navigate an industry that was often ignorant about race, but at times paradoxically receptive.
Hollywood Chinese is produced, directed, written and edited by Academy Award® nominee and triple Sundance award-winning filmmaker, Arthur Dong (Licensed to Kill, Coming Out Under Fire, Forbidden City, U.S.A.), and presents eleven of the industry’s most accomplished Chinese and Chinese American film artists who share personal accounts of working in film. Ang Lee, Wayne Wang, Joan Chen, David Henry Hwang, Justin Lin, B.D. Wong, Nancy Kwan, Tsai Chin, Lisa Lu, James Hong, and Amy Tan are among the storytellers who have wrestled with being the “other” in Hollywood.
Non-Asian personalities are also featured to point out the controversy over portraying the Chinese in yellow-face. Two-time Oscar® winner Luise Rainer (Good Earth, 1937), character actor Christopher Lee (Fu Manchu, 1960-65), and 1940s matinee idol Turhan Bey (Dragon Seed, 1944) give first-hand recollections on being yellow on the silver screen.
Hollywood Chinese is punctuated with a dazzling treasure trove of clips from over 90 movies, dating from 1890s paper prints up to the current new wave of Asian American cinema. Hollywood Chinese also unearths films long thought to be lost. During the documentary’s production, filmmaker Arthur Dong remarkably discovered two nitrate reels of what is now acknowledged as the first Chinese American film ever made, The Curse of Quon Gwon (1916). Directed and written by filmmaker Marion Wong, it is also one of the earliest films made by a woman and was recently placed on the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
At once humorous, maddening, and inspiring, Hollywood Chinese weaves a rich and complicated tapestry, one marked by unforgettable performances and groundbreaking films, but also one tainted by a tangled history of race and representation.
For more information on the film, or to see the trailer, go to the Hollywood Chinese web site
Posted by Ming-Yuen S. Ma