Hollywood Chinese

Most PBS stations will air tonight (May 27, 2009) a 90 minute showing of American Masters, titled Hollywood Chinese, produced in 2008. The film covers a century of Chinese involvement in Hollywood cinema. The film is produced, directed, written and edited by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong (former San Franciscan and current resident of Los Angeles).

A short description from the PBS website:

American feature films often portray the Chinese as exotic and devious characters – or simply the “other” – reflecting the entertainment industry’s inherent racial prejudices as well as its fascination with the Far East. Hollywood Chinese features candid interviews and back lot stories from artists in front of and behind the camera, including Joan Chen, James Hong, David Henry Hwang, Nancy Kwan, Ang Lee, Christopher Lee, Justin Lin, Luise Rainer, Amy Tan, Wayne Wang, and BD Wong.

The documentary chronicles the full gamut of Chinese representation in Hollywood. It brings to light the controversial yellowface casting of Luise Rainer in The Good Earth (1937) and the stereotyped caricatures played by Chinese American actors such as James Hong in Bloodsport 2 & 3 (1996 and 1996). It also addresses the eventual trend of Asian empowerment in films such as Flower Drum Song (1961) staring Nancy Kwan and the film-adaptation of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (1993) directed by Wayne Wang.

This documentary has already received positive reviews, and should be well worth watching if you have an interest in Asians in cinema.

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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