SXSW 2012 World Premiere: “Seeking Asian Female”
Directed by San Francisco-based filmmaker Debbie Lum, “Seeking Asian Female” follows the unlikely romance between Steven – a white, American man obsessed with Asian women – and Sandy, the young Chinese woman he meets online.
Still single at age 30, Sandy (whose real name is Zhang Jianhua) was an ‘old maid’ by Chinese standards and turned to online dating in hopes of meeting an open-minded Chinese man. Instead she found Steven, an American in his early ‘60s with a severe case of “yellow fever.”
The documentary is told through the viewpoint of Lum who, as a Chinese American woman, was fascinated with Western men’s obsession with Asian women. It took over five years to make the film, as Lum followed her main character until he found a Chinese who wanted to marry him.
Lum documents and narrates Steven and Sandy’s unstable, precarious relationship with skepticism as the couple attempts to build a marriage from scratch. Lum becomes their translator and marriage counselor, as the two have to use Google Translate to regularly communicate.
Lum’s role in the project had changed dramatically. She began as a filmmaker with the goal of documenting a man’s obsession, but quickly found herself in the middle of an awkward, often humorous entanglement between two people who could barely understand each other.
“Seeking Asian Female” was one of my favorite films at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival. It’s a fantastic, intimate look at how difficult and unpredictable romance and relationships can be. Even though the film focuses on Steven’s obsession with Asian women, the rough patches are no doubt familiar.
They have trouble communicating – they’re separated by great distances – they struggle with living together – “Seeking Asian Female” is ultimately a documentary that captures what it’s like to be in love – to be in a relationship – and if two people can overcome their differences to make things work.
“Seeking Asian Female” is an intriguing, affecting work of documentary filmmaking. It engages the viewer and brings them into the living room of a couple who struggle to find their roles in a relationship forged from the fires obsession and desperation. I loved this film! You can check out the trailer here.
Check out an exclusive interview with director Debbie Lum below:
Video by Tim Grant.