HOLLYWOOD CHINESE Screening – Wednesday, April 1, 7pm, Broad Performance Space, Pitzer College

March 25, 2009 at 12:05 am 7 comments


In person: Arthur Dong

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

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .

American/Hollywood Martial Arts Films (cont). Who Killed Vincent Chin?

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Liana Engie  |  March 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Questions I would like to ask Arthur Dong:
    -Do you think that Hollywood’s greater acceptance of Asian Americans in bigger, less-stereotyped roles is fueled more by finances than by Asian American civil rights movements/groups?
    -In some interview you’ve discussed the importance of small donors to documentaries and smaller filmmakers. What do you feel is the impact of PBS and other public television stations?
    -How do you feel Yellowface has changed over the decades? Has it improved or is it just more subtle than before?
    -How do you feel about how much of the publicity for Hollywood Chinese revolved around your history of LGBT films? Did you feel as though your image was being limited in any way?

    I’m not entirely sure about these questions – I will probably edit them at some point.

  • 2. Michelle Fong  |  March 31, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    How did you react to the representation of Asian Americans in “Flower Drum Song”? Did you find it accurate?

    What are your feelings towards Nicholas Cage’s cameo role in “Grindhouse” as a yellow face Fu Manchu?

    What did you think of yellow face acting as you grew older?

    What are the Asian American stereotypes you see in media today?

  • 3. rylee Rubalcava  |  April 1, 2009 at 4:18 am

    1) “Hollywood Chinese” is a drastic change from the subject of your previous films, how is the process of putting together a film like “Hollywood Chinese” different from the documentaries you have made in the past? Did you work as your own editor, producer, director and cinematographer, as you have previously?

    2) How does the idea of Hollywood movie making being an entertainment industry that mixes art with commerce, relate to how the audience perceives images of the Chinese?

    3)You were quoted as saying that, “Hollywood Chinese” is about representations and seeing each other as human beings. Is it safe to say that this is the underlying theme in all of your films?

  • 4. Tommy Meyer  |  April 1, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    1. What served as inspiration for Hollywood Chinese?

    2. Has the view of Chinese Americans in film today changed much?

  • 5. Tommy Meyer  |  April 1, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    1. What served as inspiration for Hollywood Chinese?

    2. How has the view of Chinese Americans in film today changed?

    3. What stereotypes of Chinese are still seen today?

    4. What has the impact of Chinese American filmmakers been in recent years?

  • 6. Fred Chang  |  April 1, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Did you ever ask Luise Rainer about her opinion on yellow face? What was her opinion? Was she aware of the discussions surrounding yellowface?

    Has being an Asian American director affected your ability to fund a film, especially if the subjects are Asian/Asian content?

    How did you end up finding such a rare film as “The Curse of Quon Gwon”?

  • 7. Matthew Park  |  April 2, 2009 at 12:33 am

    You mentioned that Asians are still portrayed as foreigners (Juno) in movies or the media. In terms of more recent works can you think of some other unacceptable, or inaccurate portrayals?

    When saying that you “believe that my films are embedded with my vision and I happen to be a gay man,” do you believe that this is what your vision or focus will remain for the remainder, or majority of your career?

    What is the most revolutionary change in Asian American portrayal since you were a child?


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