First Chinese American Film

September 8, 2008

When the family handed over the old film reels to Arthur Dong, it was actually quite a process to get it to the right place and condition. For example, nitrate reels are seen as an explosive and have to be handled carefully. The Academy Film Archive restored the reels to almost "pristine condition," especially considering they are almost 100 years old.

Being able to see the refurbished film will be quite a treat. This isn't the first time it's been screened; it was shown at the Oakland Museum of California last year as part of the Asian American film festival here, and earlier this year at several screenings of "Hollywood Chinese" at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland. The film is about 35 minutes long. 

Because the director and actors are no longer around, the film and old news articles is basically what's left of the story behind the first Chinese American film.

The free screening is 2-5:30 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park in the Fruitvale district of Oakland. Seating for the two showings is limited. There will also be Cantonese Opera, and the film will be accompanied by a live orchestra with English subtitles. Call 510-532-9142 to reserve a seat. 

This blog entry is graciously sponsored by Toyota Matrix. Check out their website dedicated to the best in Asian American film.

Toyota Matrix


Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.