Synopses & Reviews
Spotlighting Asian Americans on both sides of the motion picture camera, Countervisions examines the aesthetics, material circumstances, and politics of a broad spectrum of films released in the last thirty years. This anthology focuses in particular on the growing presence of Asian Americans as makers of independent films and cross-over successes. Essays of film criticism and interviews with film makers emphasize matters of cultural agency -- that is, the practices through which Asian American actors, directors, and audience members have shaped their own cinematic images.
One of the anthology's key contributions is to trace the evolution of Asian American independent film practice over thirty years. Essays on the Japanese American internment and historical memory, essays on films by women and queer artists, and the reflections of individual film makers discuss independent productions as subverting or opposing the conventions of commercial cinema. But Countervisions also resists simplistic readings of "mainstream" film representations of Asian Americans and enumerations of negative images. Writing about Hollywood stars Anna May Wong and Nancy Kwan, director Wayne Wang, and erotic films, several contributors probe into the complex and ambivalent responses of Asian American audiences to stereotypical roles and commercial success. Taken together, the spirited, illuminating essays in this collection offer an unprecedented examination of a flourishing cultural production.