Worthy Wednesday: Anna May Wong, In Her Own Words

If you’ve ever taken an Asian American studies course or is a film buff, then the name Anna May Wong is a familiar one. Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American movie star and made dozens of films in Hollywood, London and Berlin. Yet what she is most known for is her controversial portrayal of characters who were typecast or stereotyped as a scheming dragon lady. Her most notable films include: Shanghai Express, The Thief of Bagdad and Daughter of Shanghai. Some may regard her as a trailblazer, while others would argue that she created the typecast that has hindered Asian American actresses ever since. However you may feel about Anna May Wong, you can’t deny that she had an impact on the industry.

This Friday, October 21st the Asian American/Asian Research Institute is hosting a free screening and talk on the documentary, Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words, by Yunah Hong, from 6PM to 8PM, at 25 West 43rd Street, Room 1000, between 5th & 6th Avenues, Manhattan. The event is free and open to the general public. For questions, please contact AAARI at 212-869-0182.

In this hour long documentary, director Yunah Hong tells the story of Anna May Wong, who started out in silent films when she was just 17. Narrated in Wong’s own words by actress Doan Ly, Yunah Hong’s documentary paints a vivid portrait of a Hollywood original. Generous excerpts from Wong’s films, archival photographs and interviews enhance this richly detailed picture of a woman and her times. Discussion with the director will take place after the screening.

Yunah Hong has made eight films, all with a focus on Asian American women. Her documentary Between the Lines: Asian American Women’s Poetry weaves together autobiographies and readings by 16 poets. Becoming an Actress in New York follows three hopefuls as they trek to auditions, work with coaches, strive to be noticed in workshop productions and labor at day jobs. Yunah has also made several experimental films including Memory/all echo, based on the work of multimedia martist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.

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