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This innovative essay collection explores Asian American cinematic representations historically and socially, on and off screen, as they contribute to the definition of American character. The history of Asian Americans on movie screens, as outlined in Peter X Feng’s introduction, provides a context for the individual readings that follow. Asian American cinema is charted in its diversity, ranging across activist, documentary, experimental, and fictional modes, and encompassing a wide range of ethnicities (Filipino, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese). Covered in the discussion are filmmakers—Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Ang Lee, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Wayne Wang—and films such as The Wedding Banquet, Surname Viet Given Name Nam, and Chan is Missing.
Throughout the volume, as Feng explains, the term screening has a twofold meaning—referring to the projection of Asian Americans as cinematic bodies and the screening out of elements connected with these images. In this doubling, film representation can function to define what is American and what is foreign. Asian American filmmaking is one of the fastest growing areas of independent and studio production. This volume is key to understanding the vitality of this new cinema.