Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words

A film by Yunah Hong

US | 2011 | 56 minutes | Color | DVD | English | Order No. 121064


Anna May Wong knew she wanted to be a movie star from the time she was a young girl—and by 17 she became one. A third generation Chinese-American, she went on to make dozens of films in Hollywood and Europe. She was one of the few actors to successfully transition from silent to sound cinema, co-starring with Marlene Dietrich, Anthony Quinn and Douglas Fairbanks along the way. She was glamorous, talented and cosmopolitan—yet she spent most of her career typecast either as a painted doll or a scheming dragon lady. For years, older generations of Chinese-Americans frowned upon the types of roles she played; but today a younger generation of Asian Americans sees her as a pioneering artist, who succeeded in a hostile environment that hasn’t altogether changed. Yunah Hong’s engrossing documentary is an entertaining and imaginative survey of Wong’s career, exploring the impact Wong had on images of Asian American women in Hollywood, both then and now. Excerpts from Wong’s films, archival photographs and interviews enhance this richly detailed picture of a woman and her extraordinary life.


"This is a timely documentary about a luminous performer whose talents far exceed even her international fame… offers new archival discoveries and utilizes Anna May Wong's own words to help illuminate the complicated life of this early twentieth--century star.”

Anne Anlin Cheng Department of English, Princeton University

“Indispensable to film retrospectives with a feminist or Asian-angled slant, this…is also accessible enough for knowledge channels.”

Maggie Lee The Hollywood Reporter

“[A] must-see…a great film to show you the problems of an Asian American woman actress in the discriminate Hollywood of that era."

Gerrye Wong Asianweek

"Although I was already aware of Wong's story, this documentary revealed details about the actress in such a provocative way that I was intrigued about her life all over again."

Steve Su Asian Loop


  • Vancouver Asian Film Festival
  • Busan Int’l Film Festival
  • San Francisco Asian American Int’l Film Festival
  • New York Asian American Int’l Film Festival
  • Korean American Film Festival


Yunah Hong

Yunah Hong is an award winning filmmaker who lives in New York City. She grew up in Seoul, Korea. She studied art history, photography and design at Seoul National University, graduating in 1985. Two years later she earned an M. A. in computer graphics at the New York Institute of Technology. While working as a designer in New York, she began to experiment with video. She has made eight films, ranging in scale from a one-hour documentary to short experimental productions.

Her latest documentary, “Anna May Wong: in her own words”(2010) was broadcasted on PBS Plus in May 2013. It reached over 200 stations in the States. It had a world premiere at the Busan Int’l Film Festival in 2010 and had festival screenings in US and Canada in 2011. She published an article about Anna May Wong, “A Twentieth Century Actress” with Peter X Feng in Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Routledge in 2006. Her blog about the documentary is [email protected] and twitter account is [email protected].

Her first work,"“Memory/all echo" (1990), is an experimental video based on the Dictée by multimedia artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. It was broadcast on CUNY-TV in 1991 and has been distributed to libraries and universities throughout the country. Her second film, "Through the Milky Way" (1992), is an experimental video evoking the experience of Korean women immigrants in Hawaii at the turn of the century. It earned the First Prize in Video Art at the 1992 Tam Tam International Video Festival in Italy and was broadcast on WNYC-TV. The short film, "Here Now" (1995), frames a day in the life of a woman who, at age 30, finds her mind bouncing between fantasy and reality. It was awarded the Special Jury Award at the 2nd Seoul Short Film Festival in Korea 1995. Yunah Hong’s feature screenplay, "Monday," was an official selection of PPP 1998: Busan International Film Festival Film Market in Korea.

Her documentary, "Becoming an Actress in New York" (2000) is about three Korean American actresses who pursue their big dreams in New York. It was broadcast in Korea in 2001 and 2004, where it was named a final nominee for aMedia’s 2001 Ammy Awards for Best Documentary. Her documentary, "Between the Lines: Asian American Women’s Poetry" (2001) shows how the work of Asian American woman poets reflects their lives. It received a CINE Golden Eagle Award in 2002. It has received critical acclaim and has been widely shown.

Over the past twenty three years since she became a video/filmmaker, Yunah Hong’s works have focused on women and the arts. She has worked on various genres of film and video -- experimental, drama, computer animation and documentary -- to explore the possibilities of video/film form and new ways to visualize personal stories and history.

She is a recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in video (2000, 1992), the Media Alliance Media Arts fellowship (1993), and the Art Matters fellowship (1995). She was awarded a media fund grant from the Center for Asian American Media (2008). She has also received the Urban Artist Initiatives grant (2008), the New York State Council on the Arts Production Grants (2004, 2002, 1999 & 1995), the Jerome Foundation Production Grant (2006, 1994), Asian Women Giving Circle grant (2009 & 2011), and the Pyramid Arts Center's Diverse Forms Artist Project Grant (1992)

From 2002 to 2009, she has presented and discussed her film work at colleges under the auspices of the Korea Society, ( She has spoken at more than twenty campuses from Duke to U.C. Santa Barbara. She served as an artist advisor to the New York Foundation for the Arts (2004-9). (6/13)


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