Chinese Americans’ relationship with Hollywood is as empowering as it is complicated, argues award-winning filmmaker and author Arthur Dong.
In his new book Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films, Dong explores the role and influence of Chinese Americans on the silver screen over the last century. Using archival photographs and interviews with a range of prominent filmmakers, Dong’s investigation leads from Hollywood’s stereotypical cinematic portrayals of Chinatown’s Tong Wars at the turn of the 20th century to the practice of casting white actors in Asian roles (coined “yellowface”), which continues to this day. Hollywood Chinese also highlights Chinese and Chinese American artists--including Ang Lee, Nancy Kwan, Justin Lin and Amy Tan-- whose work has helped to create nuanced portrayals of Asians on screen.
Hollywood Chinese follows Dong’s first book, the award-winning Forbidden City, USA, which tells the story of the Chinese American nightclub scene that emerged in San Francisco during World War II. Today on FilmWeek, Larry Mantle talks with Dong about the history and cultural impact of Chinese American filmmaking.
Arthur Dong, author of the book “Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films” (Angel City Press, October 2019); he is an Oscar-nominated and Sundance award-winning filmmaker who has directed eight feature-length documentaries