The California LGBT Arts Alliance honored filmmaker and author Arthur Dong with its inaugural Trail Blazer Award at the Highways Performance Space & Gallery in Santa Monica in June.
Arthur Dong is an Oscar-nominee, a Peabody and Sundance award-winning filmmaker, author, and curator whose work centers on Asian American, and LGBTQ stories. Dong’s films about Asian American history and culture include The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor (2015), Hollywood Chinese (2007), Forbidden City, U.S.A. (1989), and Sewing Woman (1987). Among his films that investigate anti-gay prejudice and LGBTQ issues are Coming Out Under Fire (1994) and Licensed to Kill (1997). Dong has curated exhibitions showcasing his extensive archive of cultural ephemera, including Chop Suey on Wax: The Flower Drum Song Album, Forbidden City, USA, and his most recent, Hollywood Chinese, on display at the iconic Formosa Café in West Hollywood. Dong’s first book Forbidden City, USA: Chinatown Nightclubs 1936-1970 received an American Book Award in 2015 and the Art Deco Historic Preservation Award. www.deepfocusproductions.com
Dong’s second book, Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films provides a spectacular view of the Chinese American impact on the movies, from some of the earliest films set in America’s renowned Chinatowns to contemporary hits and artists that are remaking the face of Hollywood.
Filled with page-after-page of stunning vintage images, this lavish coffee-table book is not only an opulent and entertaining look at some of the movie world’s most fascinating characters, it also illustrates the myths, misconceptions, and memorable moments of the Chinese and Chinese Americans in films made in the United States. Hollywood Chinese brings to life the history of these films as only Arthur Dong, an award-winning filmmaker, can—vividly, with an eye for detail that captures the drama inherent in how Asian cultures have been portrayed by Hollywood studios.
Exploring the ways the American film industry has celebrated Chinese and Chinese American culture, Dong also examines how that industry subtly—and not so subtly—projected stereotypes into its movies. His book Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films explores the power of these images and their lasting impact.
Hollywood Chinese spotlights archival material selected from more than 2,000 pieces of movie memorabilia the author has collected since his youth, when he was growing up in San Francisco Chinatown and during his ten years of research for his documentary of the same name—the genesis of his new book. Featuring Dong’s trove of cinematic artifacts—photographs, posters, lobby cards, stills, press kits, and other ephemera—Hollywood Chinese visually explains many of the social and cultural attitudes on race over the past century, to show how those attitudes have played out in Hollywood films. Although Hollywood Chinese centers on the Chinese, its analysis will resonate with other ethnic and marginalized groups as well, challenging racist assumptions about minorities in America, biases that were especially pervasive in early Hollywood films.
As a counterpoint to Hollywood’s yellowface and whitewashed caricatures, Arthur Dong includes his personal interviews with Chinese and Chinese American artists who have produced, directed, written, and starred in Hollywood films. These chronicles of resistance will empower readers with inspiring alternative narratives. Ang Lee, Nancy Kwan, Justin Lin, James Hong, Joan Chen, Wayne Wang, David Henry Hwang, and Amy Tan provide insights, while Dong’s impeccable research traces the uphill battle fought by pioneers such as Marion Wong who was the first Asian American to direct and produce a feature in California. Hollywood Chinese features a Foreword by Randy Haberkamp, Managing Director of Preservation and Foundation Programs at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and an Afterword by award-winning producer Janet Yang (The Joy Luck Club).
Click here to purchase the book.
The California LGBT Arts Alliance is a network of over 35 non-profit arts organizations and 1800 individual artists and supporters in Southern California. We include all artists, arts organizations and individuals who support our mission as part of our alliance. Click here for more information on the Alliance.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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