Making Asian American Film and Video by Jun OkadaThe words "Asian American film" might evoke a painfully earnest, low-budget documentary or family drama, destined to be seen only in small film festivals or on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). In her groundbreaking study of the past fifty years of Asian American film and video, Jun Okada demonstrates that although this stereotype is not entirely unfounded, a remarkably diverse range of Asian American filmmaking has emerged. Yet Okada also reveals how the legacy of institutional funding and the "PBS style" unites these filmmakers, whether they are working within that system or setting themselves in opposition to its conventions. Making Asian American Film and Video explores how the genre has served as a flashpoint for debates about what constitutes Asian American identity. Tracing a history of how Asian American film was initially conceived as a form of public-interest media, part of a broader effort to give voice to underrepresented American minorities, Okada shows why this seemingly well-intentioned project inspired deeply ambivalent responses. In addition, she considers a number of Asian American filmmakers who have opted out of producing state-funded films, from Wayne Wang to Gregg Araki to Justin Lin. Okada gives us a unique behind-the-scenes look at the various institutions that have bankrolled and distributed Asian American films, revealing the dynamic interplay between commercial and state-run media. More than just a history of Asian Americans in film, Making Asian American Film and Video is an insightful meditation on both the achievements and the limitations of institutionalized multiculturalism.
Publication Date: 2015
Identities in Motion by Peter X. FengThis innovative book shows how Asian American filmmakers and videomakers frame and are framed by history--how they define and are defined by cinematic projections of Asian American identity. Combining close readings of films and videos, sophisticated cultural analyses, and detailed production histories that reveal the complex forces at play in the making and distributing of these movies, Identities in Motion offers an illuminating interpretative framework for assessing the extraordinary range of Asian American films produced in North America. Peter X Feng considers a wide range of works--from genres such as detective films to romantic comedies to ethnographic films, documentaries, avant-garde videos, newsreels, travelogues, and even home movies. Feng begins by examining movies about three crucial moments that defined the American nation and the roles of Asian Americans within it: the arrival of Chinese and Japanese women in the American West and Hawai'i; the incorporation of the Philippines into the U.S. empire; and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. In subsequent chapters Feng discusses cinematic depictions of ideological conflicts among Asian Americans and of the complex forces that compel migration, extending his nuanced analysis of the intersections of sexuality, ethnicity, and nationalist movements. Identities in Motion illuminates the fluidity of Asian American identities, expressing the diversity and complexity of Asian Americans--including Filipinos, Indonesians, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Laotians, Indians, and Koreans--from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.