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Expanding on the Miné Okubo Collection, history and the arts, and social justice in the Inland Empire…

Artswalk Film on 5/7 Highlights Pioneering Actress Anna May Wong

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Anna May Wong

The documentary Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words presents a vivid picture of the first Chinese American movie star who was both an architect and a victim of her times.

Anna May Wong was born in 1905 in Los Angeles, daughter of a laundryman. Her first appearance on film was at the age of 17 in Toll of the Sea, a silent version of Madame Butterfly. She is most well-known for appearing in the film Shanghai Express with Marlene Dietrich, one of dozens of films she made in Hollywood, Berlin, and London. She was known as glamorous, worldly, and articulate, yet spent most of her career being typecast as a painted doll or scheming “dragon lady.” She could be perceived as someone whose roles reinforced racist stereotypes, but younger generations of Asian Americans see her as a pioneer artist who succeeded in a hostile environment that has not altogether changed.

This documentary is an imaginative survey of Wong’s career, with commentary from actors, scholars and biographers, old colleagues, and acquaintances. Key moments of Wong’s life are reenacted, and the commentary is drawn from Wong’s letters, performances, and interviews.

The film will be screened on May 7th in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage month, with showings at 6:00pm and again at 7:45pm in the Center’s media vault. This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please contact the Center today to reserve your spot: socialjustice@rccd.edu or (951) 222-8846.

The Artswalk film series continues on June 4th with Stonewall Uprising, and on July 2nd with The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo.

This post was contributed by student worker Cynthia Mosley.

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