Moving the Image: Independent Asian Pacific American Media Arts (1992)

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Editor: Russell Leong

Paperback - $24.95
ISBN-10: 0-934052-13-1

Hardcover: Out of Print
ISBN-10: 0-934052-15-8

Product Details: 350 pages, 8.5 x 11 in, with film stills and photos

Categories: Arts and Culture; Class and Social Status; Film and Television; Literature; Media Studies; Narrative; Internment; Myths and Stereotypes; Race Relations


Co-published with Visual Communications



Moving the Image is the first volume to document the remarkable body of film, video, and radio produced by Asian and Pacific Americans from the 1960s to 1990s. Independent Asian Pacific American media arts originated in the late 1960s and early 70s from both the Civil Rights and ethnic studies movements in the United States, and from Third World Liberation movements in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The energy, innovation, and commitment of artists of that period have continued to influence the cultural agendas of those who seek alternatives to Hollywood stereotypes and mass media portrayals of Asian, African, Chicano and Latino, and Native Americans.
Award-winning filmmakers, media artists, and writers speak firsthand to issues of generation and gender, ethnicity and nationality, which shape their images and identities. Three introductory essays provide an overview to the subject: Stephen Gong, of the Pacific Film Archives in Berkeley, surveys the role of Asian American media organizations in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco; Renee Tajima, Oscar-nominated filmmaker, charts twenty years of Asian American filmmaking, and Russell Leong, editor of UCLA’s Amerasia Journal, brings forth key issues on media culture and the Asian American experience.
The words, essays, and statements by the fifty media artists and cultural workers in this book challenge, celebrate, and contradict each other. Over ninety film stills and archival photos from the early 1900s to the 1990s illustrate this volume, designed to be used as a creative sourcebook and as an introductory text.


“The world had to be shown what its eyes were turned away from." - Leo Hurwitz


"In a society as a whole, and in all its particular activities, the cultural tradition can be seen as a continual selection and re-selection of ancestors." - Raymond Williams


"Asian American filmmakers have begun to transform the image of Asians but to what extent have we changed the way America sees?" - Renee Tajima


"Consider the experience of thinking we know what we look and sound like, until the shock of hearing our actual voices on a tape recorder, or of seeing our physical selves in the moving image." - Loni Ding


"Independent Asian Pacific American media arts in the United States emerged with the Civil Rights and ethnic studies movements of the late 1960s. Most of the writers in this book who were born before 1960 allude to this period as instrumental in their development as Asian and Pacific Americans and artists/cultural workers. Theory and action were grounded in the Black Power movement in the Americas and internationally in the post-World War II liberation and anti-colonial struggles of Cuba, China, Vietnam, Kampuchea (Cambodia), Algeria, and other Third World countries. These liberation movements not only attempted to reclaim national integrity and restore cultural identity, but also to move, mobilize, and reposition images of their peoples in relation to their colonized past, toward future effect. An independent alternative, or Third cinema, was vital to a culture of the future.

By creating imagery from action - whether by painting murals on public buildings, postering "Post No Bills" walls, organizing basement poetry readings or jam sessions, or protesting U.S military interventions in Southeast Asia with felt tip pen and cardboard caricatures-we sought to mark the day and project our image of a new dawn. An important part of this movement of imagination, critical to the production of our works, was the unity between maker and audience. As muralists, filmmakers, photographers, dancers, or poets living in Asian or Third World communities - we did not separate ourselves or our "imaging" from everyday activities of eating, drinking, working, or making love, in our neighborhoods. We did not see ourselves as "making art" for others to consume. Rather, community collaboration was integral to planning, producing, and presenting our works. We shard a common experience, lived a common agenda, took part in a common scenario. This give and take between artists and community characterized the works of, for instance, Asian, Chicano, Native American, and Afro-American filmmakers who founded and graduated from UCLA’s Ethno-Communications programs in the 1970's."


(From "To Open the Future" by Russell Leong)



Preface Linda Mabalot

Introduction: To Open the Future Russell Leong

I. Moving the Image

  • A History in Progress: Asian American Media Arts Centers 1970-1990 / Stephen Gong
  • Moving the Image: Asian American Independent Filmmaking 1970-1990 / Renee Tajima
  • Back to Real Asian American Filmmaking / John Esaki
  • Conversations: An Experiment in Community-based Filmmaking / Karen Ishizuka and Robert A. Nakamura

II. Through Ourselves

  • To Commemorate My Grandfather / Van Troi Pang
  • Strategies of an Asian American Filmmaker / Loni Ding
  • Q & A / Christina Choy
  • Center the Margins / Richard Fung
  • The (Sorry) State of (Independent) Things / Gregg Araki
  • "Of Life and Perversity": Wayne Wang Speaks / Janice Sakamoto

III. Routes Of Passage

  • Until the Day Breaks: Nationalistic Film and Video Movement in Korea (Hye Jung Park) / Hye Jung Park
  • Thailand - Not Taiwan: A Play in One Act / Nicky Tamrong
  • Bold Omissions and Minute Depictions / Trinh T. Minh-ha
  • Radio And The Third World: The Case of the Philippines / Maricel Pagulayan
  • Paris in Tokyo in L.A. / Bruce Yonemoto
  • The Making of Halmani / Kyung-Ja Lee
  • Investing in Positive Images / Peter Wang
  • Asian and Asian American Cinema: Separated by a Common Language? / Luis Francia

IV. Pacific "Truths"

  • The Reel Hawaii / Diane Mei Link Mark

V. Beyond The Big Screen

  • For the Asian American, Afro-American, Native American and Mexican American Filmamakers and Their Friends / Carlton Moss
  • Mandarins in Hollywood / Charles L. Leong
  • Modernizing White Patriarchy: Re-Viewing D.W. Griffith's Broken Blossoms / John Kuo Wei Tchen
  • James Wong Howe: The Chinaman Eye / Frank Chin
  • Final Mix: Unscheduled / Yoshio Kishi
  • Pioneers and Groundbreakers / Yoshio Kishi

VI. Living Below The Line

  • Don't Let Them Know / Geraldine Kudaka
  • Making the Cut / Irvin Paik
  • "Suckcess" Above the Line: From Here to Obscurity / Curtis Choy
  • Characterizing Costume / Terence Tam Soon
  • It's America / George Leong
  • Dear Spence / Michael Chin

VII. Directing Memory

  • Rojak / Cheng-Sim Lim
  • "What Is It About This World?" / Supachai Surongsain
  • Rituals Revisited / Cindy Hing-Yuk Wong
  • Electrons and Reflective Shadows / Janice Tanaka
  • An(Other) Reflection on Race? / Roddy Bogawa
  • Labtalk / Mar Elepano

VIII. Into Frame

  • Bitter Soup / Arne Wong
  • Moving the Image, Removing the Artist, Killing the Messenger / Daryl Chin
  • Ten Things I Hate About America: Notes from a Frustrated Young Filmmaker / Jon Moritsugu
  • Rshomon Blues / Anthony B. Chan
  • Video Art: How Many Voices? / Art Nomura
  • Spiritual Quest / Fu-Ding Cheng
  • On Experimental Video / Valerie Soe
  • Earradiation: "Gold Mountain" Radio / Theo-dric Feng

IX. Who's Listening

  • Surviving in This Place Called the United States / Esther G. Belin
  • Public Media: Serving the Public Interest? / James Yee
  • "The Last Game Show": A New Production Strategy / Norman Jayo
  • A Talk Story Poem for Open Dialogue III / Peter Nien-chu Kiang

X. Contributors
XI. Resources
XII. Collaborators
XIII. Permissions and Acknowledgements
XIV. Name Index


"Your book is a benchmark from which all other discourse must take its bearings. Your book is the most important single piece of literature developed by an enlightened minority. It helps clarify the new American we are all struggling to realize through film/video. It confirms the past, celebrates the present and is a source of energy for the future."

-Brian O'Doherty, Director
Media Arts: Film/Radio/Television
National Endowment for the Arts, Washington D.C

"The Asian stereotype has existed in film for so long, the image of an Asian in film is an image bordered by all that is fake. The interviews, critical essays, experiential essays, and poetry, some fifty selections in all, represent what is real in Asian Pacific sensibility, vision, and community... Moving The Image becomes an instrument of self-determination in the face of the Hollywood film ..."

Prof. Shawn Wong
University of Washington, Seattle