News (2012)


Filmmaker Arthur Dong spent ten days in Taipei participating in several documentary events. For the CNEX Chinese Documentary Forum and Documentary Academy, Dong advised filmmakers on their projects and held an all-day master class. He was also the Filmmaker-in-Focus at the CNEX Documentary Film Festival, which screened a retrospective of his work. Dong’s visit was co-sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Visiting Artist Program.

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For information about the Academy’s Visiting Artist Program, please click here.


Chea-Hai-at-Ngor's-childhood-home-site-LR-wmResearch for “The Haing S. Ngor Film Project” took project director, Arthur Dong, to Cambodia where he spent time with Dr. Ngor’s surviving relatives. Research was also conducted at Ngor’s home village, the S-21 Tuol Sleng Prison, the Choeung Ek Killing Fields, a session of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and at the Bophana Audio-Visual Center. Pictured: Haing S. Ngor’s former classmate, Chea Hai, points out the site of Ngor’s childhood home in Samrong Yong Village (where the yellow house now stands).

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Film ForumThe National Endowment for the Humanities and CAL Humanities awarded grants to start research and development on Arthur Dong’s new documentary chronicling the life and times of Dr. Haing S. Ngor,, the first-time Cambodian/Chinese actor who drew upon his four-year interment in Khmer Rouge prisons to create an Oscar®-winning performance in The Killing Fields. “Dr. Ngor is mostly known for his film work, but what I find compelling is his quest to bring worldwide attention to the devastation of Cambodia under the Pol Pot regime,” says Dong. Unfortunately, Dr. Ngor was murdered in 1996 in L.A.’s Chinatown. Although the case was officially solved and convicted as a botched robbery, it’s still a mystery to many in the Cambodian community. In fact, in 2009, at the Cambodian tribunals to bring top members of the Pol Pot regime to justice, Kaing Guek Eav (alias Duch), the notorious warden of Tuol Sleng torture camp, claimed “Haing S. Ngor was killed because he appeared in the film The Killing Fields. The documentary will be based on Ngor’s autobiography (co-written with Roger Warner), Survival in the the Killing Fields.

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Scenes from Chinese AmericaTravel on a nostalgic journey to the golden age of Chinese American nightclubs when an explosion of cabarets and entertainers captured the imagination of the public with their all-Chinese extravaganzas. Starting from his initial research on the topic in 1985, which led to the production of his ground-breaking film, Forbidden City, U.S.A., Arthur Dong has become the foremost afficionado and collector on Chinese American nightclubs, ca. 1936-1962. Join the fun as he shares memorabilia and memories from a by-gone era of glamour at


SUNDANCE in BEIJINGFor the second time in two years, the Sundance-CNEX Documentary Workshop convened in Beijing, March 2012, followed by a day-long forum and summit on the state of documentaries in China. Pictured, l-r: advisors Arthur Dong, Cara Mertes (Sundance Documentary Program Director), Robb Moss, Jean Tsien, Ruby Yang, Andrea Medith, and CNEX CEO, Ben Tsiang. More info at


CNEXArthur Dong has been invited to be the Filmmaker in Focus at the 2012 CNEX Documentary Film Festival in Taipei, September 29-October 7. The filmmaker will also conduct a master class and advise at the CNEX Chinese Doc Forum prior to the festival, September 26-30. Details to come at


Toisan TrilogyHollywood Chinese brings together a captivating portrait of film artists and iconic images for a high-spirited look at the ways the Chinese have been imagined in the movies, from silent classics to contemporary blockbusters. Winner of the 2007 Golden Horse for Best Documentary, Asia’s Oscar® equivalent, Hollywood Chinese stars a virtual who’s who of top Chinese and Chinese American talent, including Ang Lee, Nancy Kwan, Amy Tan, James Hong, B.D. Wong, Joan Chen, Wayne Wang, and David Henry Hwang; with special appearances by veteran character actor Christopher Lee (Fu Manchu) and surviving stars from Hollywood’s Golden age, double Oscar® winner Luise Rainer (The Good Earth) and matinee idol Turhan Bey (Dragon Seed).

The two-disc Hollywood Chinese: Collector’s Edition features a treasure trove of over 3.5 hours of bonus material, including the world premiere of the restored and newly scored 1916 film, The Curse of Quon Gwon, the earliest known Chinese American feature film ever made.

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Toisan TrilogyThe first major wave of Chinese came to America primarily from southern China, with a heavy concentration from the Toisan (Taishan) region of Guangdong Province. For the first time together, A Toisan Trilogy presents three award-winning short films directed by Arthur Dong that draw upon this early period of Chinese migration to America. The anthology includes:

SEWING WOMAN: an Oscar®-nominated documentary that reveals one woman’s journey, from an arranged marriage in Toisan to working class comforts in modern America. BONUS: Chinese-subtitled version included.

LIVING MUSIC FOR GOLDEN MOUNTAINS: the story of the filmmaker’s Chinese music teacher, an immigrant from Toisan living in San Francisco’s Chinatown. BONUS: director’s cut edited especially for this anthology.

LOTUS: a fictionalized film set in the Toisan village of Kay Lok. Lotus is a woman in 1914 China with bound feet who must make a life-changing choice while her husband is in America. BONUS: galleries of vintage bound feet shoes and historic photos of women with bound feet.

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Hollywood Chinese CatalogA full-color, lushly illustrated exhibition catalogue from the “Hollywood Chinese: the Arthur Dong Collection” museum show is now available for purchase. An insightful essay by media scholar and Academy Award® nominated filmmaker, Renee Tajima-Pena, covers the social, cultural, historical, and political significance of this ground-breaking exhibition. The 34-page, soft cover publication includes 88 reproductions of posters, lobby cards, stills, and other ephemera dating from 1916 to present day that trace the Chinese in American feature films over the past century. A complete checklist of exhibition items is also included. A perfect companion to the Hollywood Chinese DVD.

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Travels bookA collection of interviews with activists and artists, including George Takei, Barney Frank, Arthur Dong, and Tammy Baldwin are featured in Phillip Gambone’s, Travels in a Gay Nation. In his book, Gambone captures the humanity of each individual: for some, their identity as a sexual minority is crucial to their life’s work; for others, it has been less so, perhaps even irrelevant. For more information, please visit the University of Wisconsin Press.


Emmy logoAn original score has been produced for The Curse of Quon Gwon, the earliest known Asian American feature film directed in 1916 by Marion Wong. Original nitrate film reels of the film were brought to the attention of filmmaker Arthur Dong during his research for Hollywood Chinese, and were eventually restored by the Academy Film Archive. Noted silent film pianist and composer, Judy Rosenberg, wrote and performed her composition for The Curse of Quon Gwon that will premiere on an upcoming DVD release from DeepFocus Productions. Stay tuned for a future announcement.


Emmy logoForbidden City, U.S.A., the landmark documentary about Chinese American nightclubs in 1940s San Francisco, is now available on DVD for purchase by educational institutions and libraries. A newly-published, 23-page illustrated study guide accompanies each sale. To order, please visit our online store or call 800/343-5540.
NOTE: Single copies of the DVD are available for purchase by Educational and Institutional buyers only. Sales for individual home and personal use are only available as part of the box set, Stories from Chinese America: The Arthur Dong Collection, Vol. 2. Additionally, a limited number of VHS video copies are on sale for personal and home use. Please call 800/343-5540 to check for VHS availability.