Prolific filmmaker Arthur Dong is hosting screening parties of the world premiere of the newly restored and scored THE CURSE OF QUON GWON in Los Angeles (November 6) and San Francisco (November 13), to celebrate the release of his new 4-disc DVD box set, STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2., and you are invited.
With over 100 international film excellence awards to his name, the full scope of Dong’s storytelling mastery is brought to light in STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2.. This consummate anthology of films spanning over 25 years showcases Dong’s historically acute focus on Chinese Americans at crossroads with Hollywood, pop culture, tradition, and immigration.
On November 6, DeepFocus Productions, Inc. is releasing the Box Set, which includes the collector’s edition of Dong’s two feature documentaries: HOLLYWOOD CHINESE, a landmark examination of the Chinese in American feature films, with over 3.5 hours of bonus material on two discs, and FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A., a ground-breaking account of the Chinese American nightclub scene during World War II. Three earlier short films comprise THE TOISAN TRILOGY, and includes , SEWING WOMANthe Oscar®-nominated documentary based on the filmmaker’s mother; LOTUS, a fictionalized film exploring the conflicts over footbinding; and LIVING MUSIC FOR GOLDEN MOUNTAINS, Dong’s 1981 documentary directorial debut profiling his Chinese music teacher.
In addition to the full-length versions of each film, the collection also premieres the newly scored and restored 1916 film, THE CURSE OF QUON GWON, the earliest known Chinese American feature film that Dong helped rescue during his work on Hollywood Chinese. One of a few films from the era that was directed by a woman, San Francisco native Marion Wong, THE CURSE OF QUON GWON was preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2005, and in 2006, it was recognized as a culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant film by the Library of Congress and placed on the National Film Registry. Dong commissioned a new score from silent film composer and pianist, Judy Rosenberg, in 2010.
STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2 features 4-discs, 6 films, and over 8 hours of material, and is the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed DVD boxed-set, Stories from the War on Homosexuality: The Arthur Dong Collection, Vol. 1. That 2003 release included Dong’s trilogy of films investigating the culture wars over gay and lesbian issues: Coming Out Under Fire, Licensed to Kill, and Family Fundamentals.
STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2 is available exclusively from the DeepFocus Film Library at www.deepfocusproductions.com or by phone, 800/343-5540. www.deepfocusproductions.com/stories_from_chinese_america.php
Saturday, November 6 in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, on Saturday, November 6, the Asian American arts organization, Visual Communications, will present the world premiere of STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2, headlined by the world premiere of the newly restored and scored THE CURSE OF QUON GWON. Dong will be on hand to host the screening and give a visual tour of the many hours of additional archival and interview footage that comes with his new DVD anthology. The celebration will take place at 3pm, at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, 111 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo. A reception, sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, will follow the screening.
Co-presenters of the event are the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, API Equality-LA, the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles, the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, and the Organization of Chinese Americans-Greater Los Angeles. Tickets are $12 general admission; $10 for members of Visual Communications, the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, and the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles, students, and seniors. To purchase tickets, please call (213) 680-4462, ext. 32, or visit www.vconline.org/alpha/cms/index.cfm/programs/presentation/the-vc-screen/STORIES-FROMCHINESE-AMERICA.
Saturday, November 13 in San Francisco
In San Francisco, on Saturday, November 13, San Francisco State University and its Asian American Studies Department will present the Bay Area premiere of STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2, headlined by the Bay Area premiere of the newly restored and scored THE CURSE OF QUON GWON. Dong will be on hand to host the screening and give a visual tour of the many hours of additional archival and interview footage that comes with his new DVD anthology. Guest performance by the Grant Avenue Follies (www.grantavenuefollies.com), with a reception and doorprizes to follow.
The celebration will take place Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010, 12:00 pm, at the Four Star Theatre, 2200 Clement Street. This is an Asian American Studies Fundraising Event and proceeds will support AAS programs and students at SF State. Tickets are a $25 minimum donation, available online at Brown Paper Tickets, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/133419. Tickets are also available at the Four Star Box Office and at the Asian American Studies Department, SF State University, 415.338-2273, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.sfsu.edu/~aas.
ABOUT THE FILMS
HOLLYWOOD CHINESE: COLLECTOR’S EDITION (2007), 89 minutes, plus over 3.5 hours of bonus features:
HOLLYWOOD CHINESE brings together a captivating portrait of film artists and iconic images for a highspirited look at the ways the Chinese have been imagined in the movies, from silent classics to contemporary blockbusters. Winner of the 2007 Golden Horse for Best Documentary, Asia’s Oscar® equivalent, HOLLYWOOD CHINESE stars a virtual who’s who of top Chinese and Chinese American talent, including Ang Lee, Nancy Kwan, Amy Tan, James Hong, B.D. Wong, Joan Chen, Wayne Wang,and David Henry Hwang; with special appearances by veteran character actor Christopher Lee (Fu
Manchu) and surviving stars from Hollywood’s Golden age, double Oscar® winner Luise Rainer (The Good Earth) and matinee idol Turhan Bey (Dragon Seed).
The two-disc HOLLYWOOD CHINESE: COLLECTOR’S EDITION features a treasure trove of over 3.5 hours of bonus material, including these highlights:
*The world premiere of the newly scored 1916 film, THE CURSE OF QUON GWON, the earliest known Chinese American feature film that Dong helped rescue during his work on Hollywood Chinese. Silent film pianist, Judy Rosenberg, composed and recorded an original score for the film in 2010 for this DVD release. Restoration of the found 35mm nitrate film was done by the Academy Film Archive in 2005, and in the following year, the Library of Congress selected The Curse of Quon Gwon for the National Film Registry.
*A trio of Soundies including 1940s renditions of Chinatown, My Chinatown and Where’s the Chicken in the Chicken Chow Mein, performed by white entertainers in faux Chinese settings. Soundies are short musical films produced in 1940-1947. A precursor to music videos, they were projected on coin-operated film jukeboxes in bars and restaurants.
*A selection of 1900s paper prints from the Library of Congress collection, including That Chink at Golden Gulch, an early attempt by Broken Blossoms (1919) director, D.W. Griffith, to portray a somewhat sensitive story about the Chinese in America.
*A gallery of movie memorabilia from pre-1950s Hollywood films with Chinatown settings. This selection of lobby cards, posters, and stills are from Dong’s personal archive of over 1,200 pieces that were the basis for the landmark exhibition, “Hollywood Chinese: the Arthur Dong Collection,” at the Los Angeles-based Chinese American Museum.
Interview outtakes featuring the stars of Hollywood Chinese who offer extended dialogues on topics such as Charlie Chan, Flower Drum Song, Fu Manchu, Suzie Wong, yellowface, stereotyping, and the Chinatown mystique.
FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. COLLECTOR’S EDITION (1989), 56 minutes, plus bonus features:
FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. is a delightful documentary about the little-known stories of Chinese American nightclub performers in World War II San Francisco. Compared to the Cotton Club of Harlem, which featured America’s finest black entertainers, the famed Forbidden City Nightclub in San Francisco gained an international reputation with its unique showcase of Chinese American entertainers.
FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. introduces crooners and tap dancers with monikers like the “Chinese Fred Astaire,” the “Chinese Sophie Tucker,” and the “Chinese Sally Rand” – just some of the swinging performers that take you back in time when Chinese were known only for chop suey joints. The film combines remarkable archival film and photographs with interviews to show a generation of Asian American pioneers who fought cultural barriers and racism to pursue their love for American song and dance. The special collector’s DVD includes previously unseen vintage and original footage along with galleries showing over 200 pieces of fascinating memorabilia and nostalgic photos from the “Chop Suey Circuit.” Winner of over 15 international film excellence awards, including the Decade’s Best Documentary at the Hawaii International Film Festival (shared award).
NOTE: STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2 is the only way to acquire the last remaining personal home use DVDs of FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A.; this DVD is not available as an individual title for home use sales.
A TOISAN TRILOGY:
THREE EARLY SHORT FILMS WITHIN THE COLLECTION
In the 1870s, the first major wave of Chinese came to America primarily from southern China, with a heavy concentration from the Toisan (Taishan) region of Guangdong Province.
A TOISAN TRILOGY presents three award-winning short films directed by Arthur Dong that draw upon this early period of Chinese migration to America. The stories follow the plight of three Toisan natives set against a backdrop of U.S. immigration laws that pushed men to leave their wives in order to go to America. This separation created the so-called “bachelor society” in American Chinatowns consisting of men withouttheir wives, and in China, a parallel “widow society” that was formed by the women left behind. For the first time together, A TOISAN TRILOGY presents Dong’s first films that forecasted his penchant for emotionally rich stories about the personal lives of individuals confronting adverse social conditions.
SEWING WOMAN (1982), 14 minutes:
This beloved classic reveals one woman’s determination to survive: from an arranged marriage in Toisan to working class comforts in modern America. SEWING WOMAN is based on a series of oral histories and the life story of the filmmaker’s mother, Zem Ping Dong, an immigrant who worked in San Francisco garment factories for over fifty years. With a candid monologue spoken by veteran actress, Lisa Lu (The Joy Luck Club), SEWING WOMAN chronicles a story of family and reunification between a “widow” and her “bachelor” husband. Winner of over 20 international film awards, including an Oscar® nomination for Best Short Documentary. Included as an added bonus in STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2 is a Chinese-subtitled version of the film. Written by Lorraine Dong.
LIVING MUSIC FOR GOLDEN MOUNTAINS (1981), 27 minutes; 2010 Director’s Cut, 18 minutes: www.deepfocusproductions.com/living_music_for_golden_mountain.php
LIVING MUSIC FOR GOLDEN MOUNTAINS is a touching portrait of filmmaker Arthur Dong’s Chinese music teacher, Leo Lew, an immigrant who toiled as a laundry worker but kept spiritually alive through his love of music. The film traces Lew’s “bachelor” life in San Francisco Chinatown, planning to one day return to his family in Toisan. Produced in 1981 at San Francisco State University with Elizabeth Meyer, LIVING MUSIC FOR GOLDEN MOUNTAINS marks Dong’s documentary directorial debut and won a Regional Academy Student Film Award for Best Documentary. STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2 is the film’s DVD premiere and includes a new 2010 director’s cut of the film that the filmmaker re-edited and re-subtitled especially for the anthology.
LOTUS (1987), 27 minutes:
Shot on location in remote villages of Hong Kong, this fictionalized story set in the Kay Lok Village of Toisan follows Lotus, a woman with bound feet in 1914 China who must decide whether to bind her aughter’s feet. For more than thirty centuries, China celebrated a practice known as footbinding and the fight against it triggered one of the biggest, most overlooked women’s struggle in world history. Lotus is a “widow” whose husband is away in America and makes an independent, life-changing decision in the absence of patriarchal figures. The DVD includes galleries of vintage bound feet shoes and historical
photos of women with bound feet. Winner of the CINE Golden Eagle Award. LOTUS was produced by Dong and Rebecca Soladay, with story by Lorraine Dong and Arthur Dong, and screenplay by Soladay.
About ARTHUR DONG:
Arthur Dong’s Oscar®-nominated and multi-Sundance and Peabody award-winning films include the trilogy, STORIES FROM THE WAR ON HOMOSEXUALITY: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 1 (Family Fundamentals, Licensed to Kill, Coming Out Under Fire) and the anthology, STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: THE ARTHUR DONG COLLECTION, VOL. 2. A two-time Rockefeller Fellow in Media as well as a Guggenheim Fellow in Film, Arthur is a former governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and served on the boards of Outfest, Film Independent, and the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress. Arthur recently served as a curator for the exhibitions, “Chop Suey on Wax: the Flower Drum Song Album” at the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum in San Francisco, and “Hollywood Chinese: the Arthur Dong Collection,” currently at the Chinese America Museum in Los Angeles through November 7, 2010. His public service honors include the Pioneer Award from the Organization of Chinese Americans, the History Maker Award from the Chinese American Museum, and the 2007 Alumnus of the Year Award from San Francisco State University for producing films that are “…a reminder of the power art can have to move us – not only emotionally but also to move us to action. His films merge artistry and activism, making him an impressive role model for all of our students who are taught that their talents can and should be used for the greater good of society.” For more information, please visit: www.deepfocusproductions.com.
Founded in 1970 by a group of Asian American graphic designers, photographers, and independent filmmakers, Visual Communications was created with the understanding that the media and arts should do more than just present pictures or portraits; they should take an active role in building a more humane, responsible and understanding society. Visual Communications’ mission is to promote intercultural understanding through the creation, presentation, preservation, and support of media works by and about Asian Pacific Americans. For more information, please visit www.vconline.org
ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES DEPARTMENT @ SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY:
Asian American Studies Department, the largest of five units in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, was established in March 1969 as a result of the 1968 Third World Student Strike. The Department currently consists of the following Asian American ethnic units: Chinese American, Filipino American, Japanese American, Korean American, South Asian American, Southeast Asian American, and Asian Americans of Mixed Heritage. It offers a comprehensive program of study of the Asian American experience with a commitment to serving the University, its students, and the Asian American communities. For more information, please visit http://www.sfsu.edu/~aas.
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Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection Exhibition at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, has been extended through November 7, 2010
Multimedia: George Takei, Nancy Kwan, Lisa Lu and Tsai Chin attend Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection Exhibition Opening Night
The Chinese American Museum partners with Academy award nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong on a groundbreaking exhibition about Hollywood’s forgotten past
In Arthur Dong’s Hollywood Chinese, Chinese Tinseltown Tales told by Asian Silver Screen Icons
Multimedia-Photos and Video: Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas- In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Crafting a Career
Photo Call: BD Wong and the Cast of Heading East at the Asia Society
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.
As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden.
Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are now in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.
Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, thelmagazine.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.