Asian American film makers and film critics discuss their cultural output
Asian American Film Criticism
Search the full text of this book
edited by Darrell Y. Hamamoto and Sandra Liu
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 agencythat 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.
"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."
"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."
Read a review from JAAS, Volume 5.1 (February 2002), written by Josephine Lee (pdf).
List of Illustrations
Part I: Resignifying Asian American Bodies
Part II: Negotiating Institutional Boundaries
Part III: Critical Approaches to Representing Japanese American Internment
Part IV: Exploring Form
Part V: Going Beyond the Nation-Based Model: Diasporas and Hybrid Identities
Sandra Liu is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
In the series
Asian American History and Culture, edited by K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Võ, 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 Võ, and Cathy Schlund-Vials continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.