The Academy Museum dedicates November to a month-long reflection on the history of Chinese representations in cinema.
“Chinese Hollywood: The First 100 Years,” programmed by documentary filmmaker and former Academy member Arthur Dong, is a series of feature films and shorts, some classics, some obscurities, marking both the highs and lows of how Chinese people have been portrayed on film. particularly in the Western study system. The series is an evolution of Dong’s 2007 documentary, which kicks off the series on November 4, and the 2019 book of the same name.
“When people see a movie like chinese hollywood, they actually only see fragments. We really need to see the whole, because it’s not fair to artists and creators that we critique and examine work based on 30 seconds,” Dong, who previewed his series on October 23 as part of his ongoing exhibition of Hollywood Chinese on West Hollywood’s famous Formosa Cafe, boasts the hollywood reporter. “This is an opportunity for these questions about the representation and development of the Chinese personality in Hollywood films to go further now, with a full screening of full length films. I assumed as a responsibility and a burden to contextualize certain films, such as [1937’s] lost horizon Y [1964’s] 7 faces of Dr. Lao.”
As part of the series, Dong has scheduled seven double features, movies that may be decades apart but are connected by certain similarities. For example, in “The Tong Wars” on November 12, both the tong man (1919) starring Sessue Hayakawa and Michael Cimino year of the dragon (1985) highlight the Chinatown gang violence that drew the ire of real-life Chinese-American groups for the stereotypically violent portrayal of their community. “the tong man it was the catalyst, to our knowledge, of the first legal protest by a Chinese-American organization against racist images in Hollywood movies. The organizers in San Francisco wanted to file an injunction against it being shown,” says Dong, adding that 60 years later, MGM/UA settled a lawsuit by the China Consolidated Benevolent Association in Los Angeles by agreeing to add a disclaimer of responsibility to year of the dragon. “This is the legacy of the uprising in the Asian American community, but it’s also the legacy of the racist portrayals that are still going on today. Even in series like the current one Kung Fu, wAs long as there are Chinese-American or Chinese characters, there’s still this throwback to the more exotic and dangerous ‘vice’ of Chinatown.”
The series will also look to celebrate underrated gems, particularly those made by venturing outside of the Western studio system. On “Escape From Hollywood” on November 27, Dong will screen 1968 movies The arcconsidered one of the first Hong Kong art films, and independent from 1998 Xiu Xiu: The rejected girl. Both directed by Chinese women (Tang Shu Shuen and Joan Chen, respectively), the films also represent examples of Chinese-American talent who had to leave the United States to expand her creative and professional horizons. “Joan Chen was instrumental in The last Emperor and she was the ingenue who should have blown up, but mostly she was offered roles that exploited her sexualized exoticism,” says Dong, adding that Lisa Lu, who starred in The arc, also faced typecasting in Hollywood before making a name for himself in Chinese cinema. “That for me is also Hollywood Chinese. It’s not just movies that we can throw away. It’s also about the experience of the Chinese or Chinese-American artist and what they went through and achieved and the legacy they left us.”
In his programming of the series, Dong intends to help attendees consider the complicated and sometimes contradictory legacy of Chinese representations in Hollywood, sometimes within the same film, such as Charlie Chan in Hollywood, sand pebbles (which earned Makoto Iwamatsu an Oscar nomination for supporting actor) and even flower drum song. “flower drum song It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, it’s a celebration, but as David Henry Hwang says, it’s a movie that has a lot of guilty pleasures. sand pebbles it’s beautifully done and kicked off Mako’s decades-long career on screen and stage and put him on the map. But it’s about colonialism and white saviors and Chinese prostitutes and lewd Chinese played by James Hong,” says the programmer. “Most if not all movies have questions, but also levels of celebration, of saying we should be proud of what we’ve accomplished, within context, and we should take criticism in context and move forward and learn from all of that.” ”.
Various screenings will be accompanied by conversations with special guests, including Hong for Big Trouble in Little China (screening on November 5), Chen for both Xiu Xiu Y The last Emperor (going on view November 27 as part of the museum’s ongoing Oscar Sundays series), Nancy Kwan (talking about her starring role in flower drum songscreened on November 25, and his experiences working with early leads James Shigeta and Bruce Lee as part of the November 11 double feature for walk like a dragon Y Enter the Dragon) and Academy President Janet Yang, who produced The Club of Joy and Luck (screening on November 26).
For some of the selections, the Hollywood Chinese screenings will represent the highest quality showings some films have received in quite some time, if not ever. “A lot of work has gone into putting this series together, going through archives, working with filmmakers and their families to secure the best available prints of these films,” says Bernardo Rondeau, the museum’s senior director of film programs, who first discussed the possibility. of this series of screenings with Dong, a member of the organization’s inclusion advisory committee, several years before the museum opened. “Some of these are rarely shown, like [David] by Cronenberg m butterfly Y The arccertainly not in [a setting with] the caliber of the Ted Mann Theatre.”
“For me, this series is one of the museum’s signature series. It contains in its methodology, approach, and theme the DNA of what this museum and our film programming is all about: focused on inclusion and expansion,” says Rondeau. “It’s a bittersweet story in the history of cinema. We are going back into the past and hopefully into rediscovery, reshaping our understanding of cinema and the future of cinema.”
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