Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

CAAMFest 2015 Honors Filmmaker Arthur Dong with World Premiere Screenings of Forbidden City, USA (3/14), The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor (3/15) & In Conversation with B. Ruby Rich (3/20)

Andy Wong's Chinese Vanities, 1954. Front row (l-r): Julianne Lew and Mae Lacsaman. Middle row: Hana Abe, Sheryl Lee, Jackie Mei Ling, Jeannie Chang, and Pat Chin. Back row: Lily Pon and Dinky Lee. Pat Chin will be one of the guest perfomers at the "Forbidden City, USA" World Premiere celebration.

Andy Wong’s Chinese Vanities, 1954. Front row (l-r): Julianne Lew and Mae Lacsaman. Middle row: Hana Abe, Sheryl Lee, Jackie Mei Ling, Jeannie Chang, and Pat Chin. Back row: Lily Pon and Dinky Lee. Pat Chin will be one of the guest perfomers at the “Forbidden City, USA” World Premiere celebration.

Arthur Dong

Arthur Dong

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is celebrating Oscar®-nominated and three-time Sundance award winning filmmaker Arthur Dong as this year’s Spotlight feature. A San Francisco native who has earned a multitude of prestigious awards for not only his work in film, but also for his public service, Arthur Dong is an inspiration for Asian American filmmakers worldwide.

With over three decades of championing equality through telling Asian American and LGBTQIA stories, Dong’s films have been theatrically distributed throughout the United States, broadcast internationally, and continue to be featured at film festivals worldwide. Known for his prowess utilizing the art of film as a means to investigate social issues and examine undisclosed parts of Asian American and LGBT history and identity, Dong’s voice has spread much further than film alone.
forbidden city usa
As a film student at San Francisco State University, Arthur Dong produced “Sewing Woman,” his Academy Award nominated short documentary in 1984. The film focused on his mother’s immigration to America from China. Instead of finding an outside distributer for the film, Dong then started his own company, DeepFocus Productions, and serves as its producer, director and writer. Dong has produced, directed, written, edited, and filmed independent films on social issues such as gay rights and the Chinese American experience. He has gone on to produce many other highly praised films including “Coming Out Under Fire,” winner of the Peabody Award in 1995. A two-time Rockefeller Media Arts Fellow as well as a Guggenheim Fellow in Film, Dong has served on the boards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Film Independent, OutFest, and the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress. In addition to the 1995 Peabody Award for  his highly praised film “Coming Out Under Fire,” the honors include three Sundance Film Festival awards, an Oscar nomination, the Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy Award, Taipei’s Golden Horse Award, a GLAAD Media Award, and five Emmy nominations.

Dong has taught documentary film around the world and his impact on the film industry is undeniable.

In celebration of Dong’s legacy in film, CAAMFest (formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival) is honored to present “Spotlight: Arthur Dong,” featuring two world premieres and a special on-stage conversation with noted film critic and author B. Ruby Rich.

Come see Jimmy Borges sing live and in person at the "Forbidden City, USA World Premiere Celebration." He's here with the Oriental Playgirls when he performed as Jimmy Jay at the Chinatown nightclubs of San Francisco during the 1960s. Also pictured are (l-r): Jennifer Pang, Arlene Wing, Kato Tani, Sisko Borges, and Cynthia Fong Yee. Cynthia will be performing too as part of the Grant Ave Follies.

Come see Jimmy Borges sing live and in person at the “Forbidden City, USA World Premiere Celebration.” He’s here with the Oriental Playgirls when he performed as Jimmy Jay at the Chinatown nightclubs of San Francisco during the 1960s. Also pictured are (l-r): Jennifer Pang, Arlene Wing, Kato Tani, Sisko Borges, and Cynthia Fong Yee. Cynthia will be performing too as part of the Grant Ave Follies.

On Saturday, March 14, 2015, CAAMFest’s screening of FORBIDDEN CITY, USA,  Dong’s landmark 1989 classic documentary will feature the world premiere of a digitally re-mastered version produced by UCLA Film & TV Archive from original film elements.

Capturing the extravagance, spirit and tension of a little-known era in the history of San Francisco’s Chinatown, FORBIDDEN CITY, USA showcases Chinese American nightclub performers who broke down stereotypes and cultural barriers during World War II with lavish performances at the internationally famous Forbidden City nightclub. Facing criticism from community elders, these entertainers put aside societal norms to pursue their dreams in show business.

In addition to the film screening, the celebration features performances by local favorite, the Grant Avenue Follies, starring original dancers from the Chinatown nightclub era: Ivy Tam, Cynthia Yee, and Pat Chin. Flying direct from Honolulu will be Jimmy Borges who’ll sing a signature set of jazzy tunes. Jimmy launched his career sixty years ago performing as “Jimmy Jay” at the Forbidden City and Chinese Skyroom nightclubs.

And you won’t want to miss a fascinating presentation by Arthur Dong highlighting his critically acclaimed book, “Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs 1936-1970.” Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Lia Chang Picks: Arthur Dong’s Forbidden City: Chinese-American Nightclubs, 1930-1970

This one-time extravaganza takes place at the historic Great Star Theater, 636 Jackson St, San Francisco, California 94133, in Chinatown, which has hosted live performances and movies since the early 1900s. Click here for tickets.
4:00pm – 6:30pm

PHOTO: Dr. Haing S. Ngor on location for “The Killing Fields.” Courtesy the Dr. Haing S. Ngor Archive

PHOTO: Dr. Haing S. Ngor on location for “The Killing Fields.” Courtesy the Dr. Haing S. Ngor Archive

Sunday March 15, 4:10PM, Castro Theater, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114 (415)-621-6120

Dong’s new feature-length documentary builds on his 30-year career of creating compelling films that focus on personal stories to examine moments of history, social prejudice and public policy concerns. The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor chronicles the years encapsulating the Khmer Rouge’s tyrannical rule over Cambodia as seen through the eyes of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who escaped to America and recreated his experiences in the film The Killing Fields, for which he won an Oscar®. Ngor became the de-facto ambassador for truth and justice in his homeland, only to be murdered in an alley in Chinatown Los Angeles, a case still surrounded by transnational conspiracy theories. Through an inspired blend of original animation, rare archival material, and newly shot footage, anchored by an adaptation of Dr. Ngor’s richly layered autobiography, this dramatic story is a personal indictment of the global politics that were thrust upon Southeast Asia, and the consequences that continue to surface today.

Haing S. Ngor’s Chinese name, traditional: [吳漢] or [吳潤漢]; Pinyin: [吳汉] or [吳润汉]
Haing S. Ngor’s Khmer name: ហ៊ាំង សំណាង ង៉ោ
Click here for tickets.

B. Ruby Rich and Arthur Dong.

B. Ruby Rich and Arthur Dong.

Friday March 20, 7:10PM, New People Theater, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

Join noted film critic and author B. Ruby Rich in a lively on-stage conversation with this year’s CAAMFest Spotlight honoree, Arthur Dong. Punctuated with clips from Dong’s oeuvre of award-winning films spanning over thirty years, this illuminating talk will cover the personal challenges and emotional thrills of creating artistic and socially relevant independent media.
Friday March 20, 7:10PM, New People Theater
1746 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Click here for tickets.

Excluding special events, panels, galas and special screenings, advanced general admission tickets are $14. Tickets for students, seniors (65+) and disabled adults are $13 (Limit 1 per program with ID only). Tickets for Center for Asian American Media members are $12 (Limit 2 per program per ID). Tickets go on sale to CAAM members only on Thursday, February 12, 2015 (online only) and open to the general public beginning Tuesday, February 17, 2015 (online only). Tickets can be purchased in person at our CAAMFest box office at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas starting Thursday, February 26, 2015.

For more on the Spotlight’s other events, visit:

About CAAMFest:
CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), takes place March 12- 22, 2015 in the San Francisco Bay Area. CAAMFest is a celebration of film, music, food and digital media from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists.

About CAAM:
CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. CAAM does this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media. For more information on CAAM, please visit

Other articles about Arthur Dong:
Lia Chang Picks: Arthur Dong’s Forbidden City: Chinese-American Nightclubs, 1930-1970
Oct. 23: Meet Forbidden City, USA’s Author and Filmmaker Arthur Dong at the South Pasadena Library
Jun. 4: Meet Forbidden City, USA’s Author and Filmmaker Arthur Dong in L.A. Chinatown
STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: The Arthur Dong Collection, Vol. 2 as 4 disc DVD Box Set, Parties in LA (11/6) and SF (11/13)
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

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
CAAMFest Presents Ursula Liang’s Documentary 9-Man: Northern California Premiere at the Great Star Theatre on March 13; East Bay Premiere at The New Parkway Theater on March 22
Jeanne Sakata, Jeremy Guskin, Angela Sauer, Andrew Ross Wynn, Elyse Mirto and More Set for A Noise Within’s FIGARO, March 1-May 10 
Stan Egi, Ellen Crawford, Paige Lindsey White, Bruce Turk, Greg Watanabe and More Set for Jessica Kubzansky helmed PYGMALION at The Pasadena Playhouse, March 17- April 12, 2015
Suzan-Lori Parks’ FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 is the 2015 Winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History 
Photos: John W. Kuo, Jessica Hagedorn, and Neal Katyal Receive AALDEF 2015 Justice in Action Awards
Photos: Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jennifer Lim, Jo Mei, James Saito, Sue Jin Song, Harriet Harris and More at Opening Night of The World of Extreme Happiness
Photos: “Swimming Awkward Moment,” the newest works by painter Arlan Huang at Trestle Gallery through March 27
Video: President Obama Sends Warm Wishes for the Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year -Year of the Ram in New York Chinatown, China Institute, Sesame Street’s Alan Muraoka at Met, MoCA
American Masters-August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand Premieres on February 20 on PBS
Dream of the Red Chamber to be featured at the 2015 Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival February 20-21, including the Symposium with David Gockley, Bright Sheng, David Henry Hwang and Stan Lai
Mar. 4: Tony Award-Winner Lillias White, Carol Fredette & More to be Honored at 30th Annual Bistro Awards at Gotham Comedy Club
Wendell Pierce, Kevin Mambo, Toccarra Cash, Thaddeus Daniels, Wendell Franklin and Megan Robinson Set for The Billie Holiday Theatre Production of Jackie Alexander’s Brothers from the Bottom, Mar. 6-29
Unsuk Chin’s Opera Alice in Wonderland, Featuring Libretto Co-Written with David Henry Hwang, Set for UK Premiere at the Barbican Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Novels on March 8, 2015
Mar. 8- 29: Pursuit of the Perfect Plate: tokyo fish story Premieres at South Coast Repertory starring Lawrence Kao, Jully Lee, Eddie Mui, Sab Shimono and Ryun Yu
Lincoln Center Theater’s The King and I, Starring Ken Watanabe, Kelli O’Hara, Ruthie Ann Miles, Conrad Ricamora, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Paul Nakauchi and More Kick off Rehearsals; Previews Begin March 12
Broadway Bound Doctor Zhivago Featuring Tam Mutu, Kelli Barrett, Tom Hewitt, Paul Nolan, Lora Lee Gayer, Melody Butiu and More Kicks Off Rehearsal; Previews Begin March 27
Video: BETWEEN RIVERSIDE & CRAZY’s Stephen Adly Guirgis, actor Stephen McKinley Henderson and director Austin Pendleton set for THEATER TALK
THE GET DOWN, Baz Luhrmann’s New Drama Series Set in 1970s NYC That Gave Birth to Hip-Hop, Punk and Disco, to Premiere on Netflix in 2016
The American Playwriting Foundation Creates The Relentless Award to Honor the late Philip Seymour Hoffman Ken Jeong to Star in ABC Medical Comedy Pilot ‘Dr. Ken’
Photos: Hudson Yang, Randall Park, Eddie Huang, Richard Lui, Lori Tan Chinn and More at #FreshOffTheBoat Viewing Party at The Circle NYC
The Greene Space at WNYC presents Preview Screenings of ABC’s FRESH OFF THE BOAT; Conversation with Amy Chua, Awkwafina & Jay Smooth, moderated by Jeff Yang
Video and Photos: BD Wong and Russell Wong Guest Star on ‘NCIS: NEW ORLEANS’, Episode 1.13 – The Walking Dead
The Drama Book Shop Video: Playwright Ayad Akhtar, Josh Radnor and Aasif Mandvi Talk DISGRACED
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Advantageous, Oh Lucy!, Meru, Umrika, The Chinese Mayor, The Stanford Prison Experiment Among 2015 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners
Photos: Lillias White, Scott Wakefield, Ebony Jo-Ann, Tina Fabrique, Marjorie Johnson, Akin Babatundé, Alan Govenar and More at TEXAS IN PARIS at The York Theatre Company
New York City Blizzard Does Not Deter Broadway Icon Chita Rivera From Performing in Concert Taping for THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Series
The Old Globe Presents World Premiere of Christopher Gattelli Helmed IN YOUR ARMS Featuring Vignettes written by David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, and Alfred Uhry, September 16 – October 25
Rajiv Joseph Wins Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for New Play Guards at the Taj; Set for World Premiere at Atlantic Theater Company in May
Photos: Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang, NEFA, Graham Sheffield CBE and Susan Stockton Receive 2015 ISPA Awards
Photos: Late Night at HERE LIES LOVE with Jaygee Macapugay, David Byrne, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More
THE WIZ Turns 40- Photos from Original Broadway Production and BC/EFA Gypsy of The Year Celebration Featuring André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Christina Sajous, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White and More
Photos: Fashion Designer Josie Natori at New Boutique in Nolita; Honored by Asian Cultural Council
Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards
Photos: Tommy Tune, Bob Avian, Lee Roy Reams, Christine Toy Johnson, Orville Mendoza, Lori Tan Chinn, Raul Aranas, Virginia Wing and More Celebrate 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award Recipient Baayork Lee Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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