Winning Girl

From award-winning Hawaiian filmmaker Kimberlee Bassford (PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY) comes WINNING GIRL, an inspirational film that follows the four-year journey of Teshya Alo, a part-Polynesian, teenage judo and wrestling phenomenon from Hawai‘i. Teshya is only 16 years old and 125 pounds, but on the judo and wrestling mats, she dominates women twice her age and pounds heavier! Now Alo has her sights set on taking the Olympic gold at both the judo and wrestling world championships - and in doing so would be the first to accomplish that feat. WINNING GIRL tells the dynamic story of an elite athlete on her ascent, a girl facing the challenges of puberty and growing up with an entire family dedicated to a single dream. A great companion piece to any discussion on Title IX and gender.
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Golden Gate Girls

In GOLDEN GATE GIRLS author and professor S. Louisa Wei tells the story of filmmaker Esther Eng, the first woman to direct Chinese-language film in the US, and the most prominent woman director in Hong Kong in the 1930’s. A San Francisco native and open lesbian, her contribution to film history is sadly overlooked – her 11 feature films mostly lost. After the retirement of director Dorothy Arzner in 1943 and before Ida Lupino began directing in 1949, Eng was the only woman directing feature length films in the US. Wei’s documentary paints a fascinating picture of how Eng’s career in filmmaking broke through gender and racial boundaries in Hollywood and Hong Kong, at a time when opportunities for Chinese women in the industry were few and far between. With a captivating archive of newly discovered images and interviews with those who knew her, Wei uncovers a rich chapter of film history that challenges both gender hierarchies and national narratives. Essential viewing for Cinema Studies and Asian American Studies.
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Slaying the Dragon and Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded

SLAYING THE DRAGON is a comprehensive look at media stereotypes of Asian and Asian American women since the silent era. From the racist use of white actors to portray Asians in early Hollywood films, through the success of Anna May Wong’s sinister dragon lady, to Suzie Wong and the ’50s geisha girls, to the Asian-American anchorwoman of today, this fascinating film shows how stereotypes of exoticism and docility have affected the perception of Asian-American women. Produced by Asian Women United, this invaluable resource has been widely used by universities and libraries. SLAYING THE DRAGON: RELOADED is a 30-minute sequel to SLAYING THE DRAGON. RELOADED looks at the past 25 years of representation of Asian and Asian American women in U.S. visual media — from blockbuster films and network television to Asian American cinema and YouTube — to explore what’s changed, what’s been recycled, and what we can hope for in the future.
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Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words

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.
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Helen Lee Compilation

Helen Lee’s internationally acclaimed short films are now available for purchase in a 3-DVD set. This compilation includes SALLY’S BEAUTY SPOT (1990), MY NIAGARA (1992) and SUBROSA (2000). (12 mins) SALLY'S BEAUTY SPOT - A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film. Offscreen women's voices and scenes from THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG parallel and counterpoint Sally's own interracial relationships and emerging self-awareness. A provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity. (40 mins) MY NIAGARA - Grasping the texture of half-expressed desire, this beautifully drawn drama evokes the complex dislocations of an Asian American woman. Shadowed by the death of her mother, Julie Kumagai's life with her widower father is marked by pained, turbulent exchanges. Indifferent to a break-up with her boyfriend and the lure of a long-planned trip, she finds some refuge in her workplace where meets Tetsuro, a young Korean man newly emigrated from Japan who is obsessed with all things American. But together they discover no easy resolutions. MY NIAGARA was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (22 mins) SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact.
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Poetry of Resilience

Academy® Award nominated director Katja Esson’s (FERRY TALES, LATCHING ON) exquisitely made film explores survival, strength and the power of the human heart, body and soul—as expressed through poetry. She highlights six different poets, who individually survived Hiroshima, the Holocaust, China’s Cultural Revolution, the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Iranian Revolution. By summoning the creative voice of poetry to tell stories of survival and witness, each reclaims humanity and dignity in the wake of some of history’s most dehumanizing circumstances. POETRY OF RESILIENCE gives us an intimate look into the language of the soul and brings us closer to understanding the insanity of war and how art will flourish, in spite of any obstacle.This film is recommended for courses in poetry studies, literature, peace and conflict studies and genocide studies.
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Mountains that Take Wing: Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama

Thirteen years, two radical activist all-stars-one conversation. Internationally renowned scholar, professor and writer Angela Davis and 89-year-old grassroots organizer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Yuri Kochiyama spent over a decade conversing intimately about personal histories and influences that shaped them and their overlapping experiences. MOUNTAINS THAT TAKE WING offers the gift of these two remarkable women’s lives, sharing the pair’s recorded exchanges in 1996 and 2008. The film’s unique format honors the scope and depth of their knowledge on topics ranging from Jim Crow laws and Japanese American internment camps, to Civil Rights, anti-war, women’s and gay liberation movements, to today’s campaigns for political prisoners and prison reform. Intercut with compelling period footage, Davis and Kochiyama’s cogent observations, keen analyses, and steadfast resolve to create a more equitable, humane world offer inspiring lessons in empowerment and community building for current and future generations.
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Tea & Justice

TEA & JUSTICE chronicles the experiences of three women who joined the New York Police Department during the 1980s—the first Asian women to become members of a force that was largely white and predominantly male. In this award-winning documentary, Officer Trish Ormsby and Detectives Agnes Chan and Christine Leung share their fascinating stories about careers and personal lives, as well as satisfactions and risks on the job, the stereotypes they defied, and how they persevered. Intrigued by the image of Asian women in a non-traditional profession, filmmaker Ermena Vinluan explores her own mixed feelings about cops while honoring the challenges Ormsby, Chan and Leung embraced, and the far-reaching changes they helped bring about. Interviews with ordinary New Yorkers, leading advocates of law enforcement reform, and anti-police abuse activists consider proposed changes in police culture and explain how women’s preventive policing style, based on communication, contrasts with more reactive, physically forceful methods used by men. Humorous cartoons, lively graphics depicting cultural icons of strong Asian women, and original music enhance this nuanced study of race, gender, and power.
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Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority

In 1965, Patsy Takemoto Mink became the first woman of color in the United States Congress. Seven years later, she ran for the US presidency and was the driving force behind Title IX, the landmark legislation that transformed women’s opportunities in higher education and athletics.
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Motherland

How do we decide where is home? Feeling increasingly isolated in her adopted homeland, accomplished documentarian Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (SILENCE BROKEN: KOREAN COMFORT WOMEN) travels to Cuba to unearth stories from a relatively unknown group in the Asian diaspora. On the island, she meets Martha, a woman of Korean descent who identifies herself as Cuban. Like many of her contemporary countrymen and women, Martha possesses family ties that span multiple nations, cultures and politics. Her story inspires Kim-Gibson to travel to Miami to meet Martha's émigré sister and the rest of their mulitcultural family, in a journey that reveals how very different worldviews can co-exist in one family separated by place and ideology. Asking probing questions about identity and economic and social justice, Kim-Gibson explores the ways in which we determine our ethnic, national, and cultural loyalties. The compelling stories in Motherland Cuba Korea USA weave a complex web and illuminate the search for an understanding of "motherland" in a globalized society.
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The Grace Lee Project

When award-winning Korean-American filmmaker Grace Lee was growing up in Missouri, she was the only Grace Lee she knew. As an adult, however, she moved to New York and then California, where everyone she met seemed to know "another Grace Lee." But why did they assume that all Grace Lees were nice, dutiful, piano-playing bookworms? Pursuing the moving target of Asian American female identity, the filmmaker plunges into a clever, highly unscientific investigation of all those Grace Lees who break the mold, including the fiery social activist Grace Lee Boggs, the rebel Grace Lee who tried to burn down her high school, and the Silicon Valley teenager Grace Lee who spends evenings doing homework, playing piano, and painting graphic pictures of death and destruction. This refreshing film reveals the intriguing contradiction of the “Grace Lee” persona—simultaneously impressive and forgettable, special and generic, an emblem of a subculture and an individual who defies categorization. With wit and charm, THE GRACE LEE PROJECT challenges the cultural investments made in the idea of Grace Lee, all the while sending her a love letter.
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Summer of the Serpent

This beautiful short drama exquisitely explores the unlikely bond that develops between two people from different worlds. Eight-year old Juliette sits at the side of the local pool waiting for another lonely summer day to pass when an unexpected pair of Japanese newcomers arrives. Fascinated by the mysterious black-clad woman and her yakuza assistant, Juliette transforms an ordinary day into an imaginative adventure, embarking on a surreal journey of discovery. Tender and beautifully hypnotic, Summer of the Serpent raises provocative questions about difference and desire. It also artfully explores representations of Asians on film, Asian masculinity, and cross-cultural encounters through the story of one young woman’s burgeoning sexuality.
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Between the Lines: Asian American Women's Poetry

BETWEEN THE LINES offers rare interviews with over 15 major Asian-Pacific American women poets. Organized in interwoven sections such as Immigration, Language, Family, Memory, and Spirituality, it is a sophisticated merging of Asian-American history and identity with the questions of performance, voice, and image. This engaging documentary serves as poetry reading, virtual anthology, and, perhaps most importantly, moving testimony about gender, ethnicity, aesthetics, and creative choice. The carefully edited interviews and poems read reflect the filmmaker's desire to show both individual voice and diversity within the Asian-American women’s community. Theoretically as rich as the images and poems provided, there is also an implicit conversation in the film about the possibility and usefulness of an Asian-American women’s aesthetic/poetic. Using carefully selected archival images, historical footage, and brilliant photography as the scrim through which we hear the poets, BETWEEN THE LINES provides important and lively viewing for literature, history, ethnic and women’s studies classes.” - Joseph Boles, Visiting Scholar, Center for Visual Culture, Bryn Mawr
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Women Organize!

WOMEN ORGANIZE! is an inspirational, half hour film that portrays women organizers across the U.S. who are involved in the global struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. In this film, we meet five women organizers of various backgrounds, peek at the campaigns they wage, and watch as they begin to pick up the tools to document their own transformative work. From working with high schools girls in a low-income neighborhood in Oregon to speaking out for Black lesbians and gays against homophobia or working with Asian immigrant women factory workers in California for decent working conditions, WOMEN ORGANIZE is an important film that should be used in women’s and ethnic studies classes and community based organizations.
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Subrosa

SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact. Originally shot on digital video, the film captures the grit and garishness of an alien urban landscape while plumbing the melancholy dream space where the character retreats even as she searches for her very life. Brimming with surreal, breathtaking, elegiac imagery, this sensuously rendered tale of loss, love and longing resonates long after its shocking conclusion.
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The Basement Girl

Abandoned by her lover, a young woman finds comfort and safety in her basement apartment. Mundane routines, a diet of junk food and the warmth of the television insulate her from the pain and betrayal of her ill-fated relationship. Eventually, THE BASEMENT GIRL emerges—transformed and ready to "make it on her own". This latest film by Midi Onodera (TEN CENTS A DANCE, SKIN DEEP) breaks new cinematic territory by employing multiple formats from traditional 16mm film to toy cameras including a modified Nintendo Game Boy digital camera and the Intel Mattel computer microscope. "Midi Onodera's latest film is a witty and wonderful meditation on how women translate the images that surround them (from Bionic Woman to That Girl!, from Barbra Streisand to Maya Deren). The film is funny and touching at the same time, as it looks at familiar texts in new contexts. For anyone interested in women and visual culture, this is an absolute must-see." Judith Mayne, Ohio University
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The Children We Sacrifice

Shot in India, Sri Lanka, Canada and the United States, and screened in 18 countries, this evocative, visually powerful documentary is about incestuous sexual abuse of the South Asian girl child. By interweaving survivors' narratives, including the producer's own story, with interviews with South Asian mental health professionals, and with statistical information, as well as poetry and art, THE CHILDREN WE SACRIFICE discloses the many layers of a subject traditionally shrouded in secrecy. Insights into the far-reaching psychological, social and cultural consequences of incest are accompanied by thoughtful assessments of strategies that have helped adult women cope with childhood trauma. The film also analyzes social and cultural resistance in South Asia and the Diaspora to dealing with incest's causes and its effects on its victims. This personal and collective letter from South Asian incest survivors and their advocates is both a validation of their struggle and a compelling charge to protect future generations of children better.
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Searching for Go-Hyang

A moving personal documentary, SEARCHING FOR GO-HYANG traces the return of twin sisters to their native Korea after a fourteen year absence. Sent away by their parents for the promise of a better life in the US, they instead suffered mental and physical abuse by their adoptive parents, including the erasure of their cultural heritage and language. Reunited with their biological parents and brothers, the young women explore their past in an attempt to reconnect with their “Go-Hyang”, their homeland, which they find they may not have a place in anymore. Thousands of Korean and Chinese girl babies have been brought to the US for adoption in the last twenty years. This beautiful film is a rare feminist look at the issues of cross-cultural adoption and national identity.
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Mitsuye and Nellie

This absorbing documentary examines the lives of Asian Americans through the inspirational poetry of Mitsuye Yamada and Nellie Wong. Interviews, rare archival footage, intimate family scenes and a lively dialogue between these fascinating women underscore the different histories of Chinese and Japanese Americans but also shared experiences of biculturalism and generational difference. Ideal for literature and poetry classes, women's studies and Asian American groups.
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Two Lies

Doris Chu, a recently divorced Chinese American woman, has plastic surgery to make her eyes rounder. From her teenage daughter Mei's perspective, her mother's two eyes equal two lies. When the family journeys to a desert resort during Doris' recuperation, a series of revelations and bitter confrontations erupt. This beautiful black and white drama is a poignant study of generational conflict and the struggle for identity in a world of hybrid cultures.
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My Niagara

Grasping the texture of half-expressed desire, this beautifully drawn drama evokes the complex dislocations of an Asian American woman. Shadowed by the death of her mother, Julie Kumagai's life with her widower father is marked by pained, turbulent exchanges. Indifferent to a break-up with her boyfriend and the lure of a long-planned trip, she finds some refuge in her workplace where meets Tetsuro, a young Korean man newly emigrated from Japan who is obsessed with all things American. But together they discover no easy resolutions. MY NIAGARA was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Sally's Beauty Spot

A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film. Offscreen women's voices and scenes from THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG parallel and counterpoint Sally's own interracial relationships and emerging self-awareness. A provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity.
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Memory/all echo

“Based on selections from late Korean-American writer Theresa H.K. Cha’s ‘Dictee’, this work by filmmaker Yun-ah Hong gives primacy to her staccato, patterned prose. Her chosen words--sometimes written across the screen, more often spoken by three voices--deal with Korean cultural and personal identity in a range of ways both confessional and contemplative, concrete and abstract. Hong weds them to images as varied, including historical footage and silent dramatic enactment. Their often incantatory combination--as if echoing Cha’s thought that ‘truth. . . oblivious to parallels other durations. . . oblivious to itself’ –conveys a recurring sense of loss and need. Though at once emotionally intriguing, ‘Memory/all echo’ still demands multiple viewings for fuller appreciation in art and social studies.” -Jeff Clark, James Madison University Library
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The Displaced View

THE DISPLACED VIEW is a film that movingly depicts the odyssey of an American-born Japanese granddaughter in search of her identity through her grandmother who is the last of the family born in Japan. The sense of isolation the granddaughter feels as a Japanese woman who cannot speak Japanese is skillfully evoked in a montage of images gleaned from old photographs, movies, animated puppets, and various experimental film techniques. Onodera focuses almost exclusively on Japanese women as preservers of the old traditions in a country where they have no meaning. By revealing the inconsistency of memory and the cultural erosion of assimilation, the fragile identity of the Japanese in North America is eloquently expressed, and the sense of alienation and displacement heightens as the old voices try to remember the past. The narrative shifts between English and Japanese, as well as between generations. Japanese subtitles are artfully displayed throughout. The focus on women makes this film ideal for women’s studies, but the historical overview would be important in other disciplines such as history and sociology. Highly recommended for academic libraries. -Roxanna Herrick, SUNY at Stony Brook Library
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On Cannibalism

King Kong meets the family photograph in this provocative experimental film exploring the West's insatiable appetite for native bodies in museums, world's fairs, and early cinema. Intertwining personal narrative about race and identity in the U.S. with layered footage, artifacts and video effects, ON CANNIBALISM looks back at anthropological truisms with outrage and irony. "...In these times of heated debates around diversity and multiculturalism, ON CANNIBALISM is bound to arouse interesting discussions concerning race, identity and difference. " - Teshome Gabriel, UCLA
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Knowing Her Place

A moving investigation of the cultural schizophrenia experienced by Vasu, an Indian woman who has spent most of her life in the U.S. Vasu's relationships with her mother and grandmother in India and her husband and teenage sons in New York, reveal profound conflicts between her traditional upbringing and her personal and professional aspirations. The film fuses photographs, vérité sequences and experimental techniques to probe the multilayered experience of immigrant women with rare candor and emotional resonance. Useful for courses on immigration, sex roles and the study of documentary form.
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Color Schemes

An upbeat, ironic look at America’s multicultural society, COLOR SCHEMES uses the metaphor of “color wash” to tackle conceptions of racial assimilation. Challenging stereotypes, twelve writer/performers collaborate on four performance sequences—soak, wash, rinse and extract. Spinning through this tumble- jumble of America’s washload, the performers scheme to claim racial images that remain color vivid.
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Halving the Bones

Skeletons in the closet? HALVING THE BONES delivers a surprising twist to this tale. This cleverly-constructed film tells the story of Ruth, a half-Japanese filmmaker living in New York, who has inherited a can of bones that she keeps on a shelf in her closet. The bones are half of the remains of her dead Japanese grandmother, which she is supposed to deliver to her estranged mother. A narrative and visual web of family stories, home movies and documentary footage, HALVING THE BONES provides a spirited exploration of the meaning of family, history and memory, cultural identity and what it means to have been named after Babe Ruth!
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Juxta

This beautiful drama observes the psychological effects of racism on two children of Japanese women and American servicemen. Thirty-one year old Kate, the daughter of a Japanese/white mixed marriage visits her childhood friend, Ted, a Japanese-Black American. Together they confront the memory of her mother’s tragic story in this telling, emotionally nuanced journey into the complexity of US racism.
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Japanese American Women

The stereotype of the polite, docile, exotic Asian woman is shattered in this documentary in which a dozen women speak about their experiences as part of the “model minority”. JAPANESE AMERICAN WOMEN explores the ambivalent feelings the women have both towards Japan and the United States. The underlying theme is the burden of being different, of being brought up “one of a kind” as opposed to growing up part of an ethnic community. An uneasy feeling prevails of being neither Japanese nor American, and the documentary ultimately becomes the story of Japanese American women and their search for a sense of place.
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Who’s Going to Pay for These Donuts, Anyway?

A brilliant collage of interviews, family photographs, archival footage and personal narration, this film documents Japanese American video artist Janice Tanaka’s search for her father after a 40 year separation. The two reunited when Tanaka found her father living in a halfway house for the mentally ill. Telling the moving story of her search as well as what she discovered about history, cultural identity, memory and family, WHO'S GOING TO PAY FOR THESE DONUTS, ANYWAY? is a rare look at connections between racism and mental illness.
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History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige

Groundbreaking and haunting, this film is a poetic composition of recorded history and non-recorded memory. Filmmaker Rea Tajiri’s family was among the 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. And like so many who were in the camps, Tajiri’s family wrapped their memories of that experience in a shroud of silence and forgetting. Ruminating on the difficult nature of representing the past – especially a past that exists outside traditional historic accounts – Tajiri blends interviews, memorabilia, a pilgrimage to the camp where her mother was interned, and the story of her father, who had been drafted pre-Pearl Harbor and returned to find his family’s house removed from its site. Throughout, she surveys the impact of images (real images, desired images made real, and unrealized dream images). The film draws from a variety of sources: Hollywood spectacle, government propaganda, newsreels, memories of the living, and sprits of the dead, as well as Tajiri’s own intuitions of a place she has never visited, but of which she has a memory. More than simply calling attention to the gaps in the story of the Japanese American internment, this important film raises questions about collective history – questions that prompt Tajiri to daringly re-imagine and re-create what has been stolen and what has been lost.
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Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice

Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese American woman who lived in Harlem for more than 40 years and had a long history of activism on a wide range of issues. Through extensive interviews with family and friends, archival footage, music and photographs, YURI KOCHIYAMA chronicles this remarkable woman’s contribution to social change through some of the most significant events of the 20th century, including the Black Liberation movement, the struggle for Puerto Rican independence, and the Japanese American Redress movement. In an era of divided communities and racial conflict, Kochiyama offered an outstanding example of an equitable and compassionate multiculturalist vision.
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A Tale of Love

Portraying the Vietnamese immigrant experience through Kieu, A TALE OF LOVE follows the quest of a woman in love with ‘Love’. The film is loosely inspired by THE TALE OF KIEU, the Vietnamese national poem of love which Vietnamese people see as a mythical biography of their ‘motherland,’ marked by internal turbulence and foreign domination. A free-lance writer, Kieu also works as a model for a photographer who idealizes the headless female body and who captures Kieu sheathed by transparent veils. Voyeurism runs through the history of love narratives and voyeurism is here one of the threads that structures the ‘narrative’ of the film. Exposing the fiction of love in love stories and the process of consumption, A TALE OF LOVE marginalizes traditional narrative conventions and opens up a denaturalized space of acting where performed reality, memory and dream constantly pass into one another. Sublimely beautiful to watch, A TALE OF LOVE eloquently evokes an understanding of the allusive and powerful connections between love, sensuality, voyeurism and identity.
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