Asian American mystery 'Ghosts of the Heartland' opens in NYC

April 17, 2009

From the film's official synopsis:

As Roland strolls down Main Street on his first night in town, a Chinese man shoots himself in front of city hall. Roland smells a story and seems a lot more concerned about that story than he is about the dead man. He soon learns that below the surface, Millville is full of interracial relationships that could tear the lid off the town. Roland also learns the Chinese are gradually being fired from their jobs. Roland suspects that his old nemesis, Mayor Frank Dugan, is plotting to take the Chinese'[s] property from them..."

Shot in black and white with a mystery/noir feel to it, Ghosts of the Heartland is Blumberg's first feature film. In his director's statement he says:

"I wanted to give audiences an insight into another era, where the themes reflect off of today's issues of immigration and race. We have done this by going back to a year [1952] that most Americans know very little about...A country that was built by all the races for the benefit of one was going to change; but not without a fight.

Most importantly, the Asian American actors are given a chance to be real people with real problems in a modern society. They are complex Americans, capable of being good, bad, and indifferent. Just like all of us. One of the actors thanked me for giving him a role where he didn't have to karate chop anybody..."

If any of you New York folks get a chance to see this film, drop me a line to let me know your thoughts on how it turned out. I'm obviously all for the diverse cast, the historical bent, and the non-stereotypical roles. But as we've seen with similar projects in the past, sometimes it's not enough to keep a film afloat in terms of story and performance. It'd be great if Ghosts of the Heartland delivered on all fronts. The imagery of the 1950s is so iconic in American cinema and seeing Asian Americans in that mix is much needed.

Check out the trailer and the film's official website to learn more.


Sylvie Kim

contributing editor & blogger

Sylvie Kim is a contributing editor at Hyphen. She previously served as Hyphen's blog coeditor with erin Khue Ninh, film editor, and blog columnist.

She writes about gender, race, class and privilege in pop culture and media (fun fun fun!) at and at SF Weekly's The Exhibitionist blog. Her work has also appeared on Racialicious and Salon.