YOURS TRULY, MISS CHINATOWN Screening – Wednesday, April 8, 7pm, Broad Hall 210, Pitzer College
Three Women Set Out to be Miss Chinatown, and Wound Up Finding Themselves
In person: Daisy Lin Shapiro (Director), Kristina Wong (Performance Artist), and surprise guest!
Ever since the very first Miss Chinatown was crowned in 1958, the titleholder has been a highly recognizable Asian American icon at once admired and reviled. At the center of the storm are the women themselves, who get just a few seconds to speak on stage. What are these women really like? Who are they beneath the glossy facade?
Set against the backdrop of glittering crowns, colorful dresses, and lively dance music in one of the oldest and biggest ethnic pageants in the United States, “Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown” features the intimate stories of some unforgettable young women who vie for the title Miss Los Angeles Chinatown, while struggling to define themselves in two cultures with different values and expectations. The crown is a link to the past, while the women’s lives are a sign of the changing times.
A beautiful and poised teacher is the perfect candidate but a disappointment in her father’s eyes because her boyfriend is African American; a half White, half Chinese tomboy joins the pageant because she thinks it will make her more Chinese. Meanwhile, a Miss Chinatown imposter shows up around town – she wears a sash and gown, but sports a cigar, granny glasses, and tells bad jokes. Turns out she is really performance artist Kristina Wong, who grew up in the shadow of Miss Chinatown but found that she could never live up to this ideal image. If she couldn’t beat them, she figured, she would still join them.
Documentary cameras follow the lives of these three subjects for several years, at a pivotal time as they are just starting to find out who they are as women. As the drama of their lives unfold, so do frank conversations about romantic relationships, familial dynamics, body image, mental health, career, and identity. What emerges are some of the rarely heard voices of young Asian American women at the turn of the 21st century.
For more information on the film, or to see the trailer, go to the Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown web site
Posted by Ming-Yuen S. Ma