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Asian American film makers and film critics discuss their cultural output

Countervisions

Asian American Film Criticism

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edited by Darrell Y. Hamamoto and Sandra Liu

"The essays in Countervisions venture beyond representation within the nation to other cinematic spaces—transnational, queer, and "neo-Asian American"—making this an exciting contribution to ethnic studies, film studies, and cultural studies."
Lisa Lowe, University of California, San Diego and author of Immigrant Acts

Spotlighting Asian Americans on both sides of the motion picture camera, Countervisions examines the aesthetics, material circumstances, and politics of a broad spectrum of films released in the last thirty years. This anthology focuses in particular on the growing presence of Asian Americans as makers of independent films and cross-over successes. Essays of film criticism and interviews with film makers emphasize matters of cultural agency—that is, the practices through which Asian American actors, directors, and audience members have shaped their own cinematic images.

One of the anthology's key contributions is to trace the evolution of Asian American independent film practice over thirty years. Essays on the Japanese American internment and historical memory, essays on films by women and queer artists, and the reflections of individual film makers discuss independent productions as subverting or opposing the conventions of commercial cinema. But Countervisions also resists simplistic readings of "mainstream" film representations of Asian Americans and enumerations of negative images. Writing about Hollywood stars Anna May Wong and Nancy Kwan, director Wayne Wang, and erotic films, several contributors probe into the complex and ambivalent responses of Asian American audiences to stereotypical roles and commerical success. Taken together, the spirited, illuminating essays in this collection offer an unprecedented examination of a flourishing cultural production.

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Reviews

"Countervisions provides cutting-edge film criticism which addresses representations and productions concerning Asian-Americans from both mainstream and alternative sources. Representing a broad spectrum of positions and issues, the reader provides a rich collection of material that demonstrates the growing significance of Asian-American cultural studies and cinematic practices."
Douglas Kellner, UCLA and author of Media Culture

"Countervisions is an exhilarating, much-needed examination of the multi-faceted world of Asian American film and video. The writing is lively; the observations acute and well-informed by an historical perspective and a forward-looking contemporary sensibility. Above all, Countervisions lives up to its title by providing multiple interpretations of contemporary Asian American images and representations."
Eddie Wong, Executive Director of NAATA

Read a review from JAAS, Volume 5.1 (February 2002), written by Josephine Lee (pdf).

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Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: On Asian American Film and Criticism – Darrell Y. Hamamoto

Part I: Resignifying Asian American Bodies
2. When Dragon Ladies Die, Do They Come Back as Butterflies? Re-Imagining Anna May Wong – Cynthia W. Liu
3. Recuperating Suzie Wong: A Fan's Nancy Kwan-dary – Peter X. Feng

Part II: Negotiating Institutional Boundaries
4. The Joy Fuck Club: Prolegomenon to an Asian American Porno Practice – Darrell Y. Hamamoto
5. Negotiating the Meaning of Access: Wayne Wang's Contingent Film Practice – Sandra Liu
6. Through the Mirror, Sideways – Lindsey Jang

Part III: Critical Approaches to Representing Japanese American Internment
7. Re/membering Spectators: Meditations on Japanese American Culture – Kent A. Ono
8. Antidote for Collective Amnesia: Rea Tajri's Germinal Image – Glen Masato Mimura
9. The Gendering of Historical Trauma in Internment Camp Documentary: The Case of Steven Okazaki's Days of Waiting – Elena Tajima Creef

Part IV: Exploring Form
10. Fighting Fire with Fire: Detournement, Activism, and Video Art – Valerie Soe
11. Hybrid Cinema by Asian American Women – Jun Xing
12. Character-Zone: A Conversation with Trinh T. Minh-ha – Gwendolyn Foster and Trinh T. Minh-ha
13. Bad Asians: New Film and Video by Queer Asian American Artists – Eve Oishi

Part V: Going Beyond the Nation-Based Model: Diasporas and Hybrid Identities
14. No Mo Po Mo and Other Tales of the Road, Renee Tajima-Pea
15. "Unashamed to be so beautiful": An Interview with Celine Salazar Psarrenas – Theodore S. Gonzalves
16. The Wedding Banquet: Global Chinese Cinema and the Asian American Experience – Gina Marchetti
17. Cultural Identity and Diaspora in Contemporary Hong Kong Cinema – Julian Stringer

Distributors
About the Contributors

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About the Author(s)

Darrell Y. Hamamoto is Associate Professor in the Asian American Studies Program at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Nervous Laughter: Television Situation Comedy and Liberal Democratic Ideology, Monitored Peril: Asian Americans and the Poltics of Television Representation, and New American Destinies: a Reader in Contemporary Asian and Latino Immigration.

Sandra Liu is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Subject Categories

Asian American Studies
Cinema Studies
Race and Ethnicity


In the series

Asian American History and Culture, edited by K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh V, and Cathy Schlund-Vials.

Founded by Sucheng Chan in 1991, the Asian American History and Culture, series has sponsored innovative scholarship that has redefined, expanded, and advanced the field of Asian American studies while strengthening its links to related areas of scholarly inquiry and engaged critique. Like the field from which it emerged, the series remains rooted in the social sciences and humanities, encompassing multiple regions, formations, communities, and identities. Extending the vision of founding editor Sucheng Chan and emeriti editor Michael Omi and David Palumbo-Liu, series editors K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh V, and Cathy Schlund-Vials continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.

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