Special Report: Interview with Arthur Dong, filmmaker of Hollywood Chinese

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
When Arthur Dong's Hollywood Chinese was screened at the Castro Theater for the Asian American Film Festival in 2007, I thought it was one of the best documentaries on Hollywood history I had ever seen. This is because it touches our lives on a deep level, the forgotten history, the history that was never really told about Hollywood, about the Chinese and Chinese Americans who contributed to movie history. The story isn’t’ a profoundly political one but the story is there. We hear that through actresses like Joan Chen who reveals that had she been white that her career would have taken off after making Last Emperor in China. There are the stories of the yellow face actors, white actors that play Chinese characters, such as Christopher Lee in Fu Manchu and Warner Oland, a Swede, in Charlie Chan films. Or Louise Rainer who won over Anna May Wong for the lead in The Good Earth. Dong keeps the pace going and shows us footage of these roles, and photographs of craftsmen working on the sets. An ambitious well-made movie, the kind I would like to see get nominated for an Academy Award. Dong says that he grew up in the 60’s when films like Flower Drum Song, were showing, a film that later was criticized for being an embarrassment for Asian Americans. Without instructing us and putting the history at our feet, Hollywood Chinese is an excellent documentary now playing in San Francisco.

“I have been speaking with Arthur Dong, director of “Hollywood Chinese”. For Movie Magazine, this has been Moira Sullivan.”

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Interview with Arthur Dong, filmmaker of Hollywood Chinese