Seeking Asian Female Reviews
By its close, the movie is as much about their unusual partnership as it is Debbie's realization that she has crossed the documentarian's boundary of objectivity by giving advice to Sandy while judging her for being a "gold digger" and judging Steven for, well, being Steven--a man of modest means who is seeking "love" over a very long distance. Of course, no documentary film is "objective" anymore than a news magazine is, and one could certainly argue that a personal interpretation may offer more insight and understanding than "just the facts." But the film is subjective in the wrong way: it condescends to Steven, making him exemplar of the social phenomenon that Debbie's project first endeavored to understand.
Had the film tackled the messy truth unearthed by seven years of talking to men afflicted with Asian fever, it might not have been so easy to shape into an engaging narrative, but it may have been more revealing of the mysterious reasons people find others attractive and why some (many?) of those infatuations evolve into lasting, deep connections. I'm convinced that something more than sexual colonization or the desire for a submissive spouse--perhaps evolutionary forces--is at play here, and while the fetishizing and objectifying of her into a lowly expectation of good sex is unfair, even dehumanizing, this describes only the tabloid fringe of the phenomenon. Lum herself is married to a Caucasian man, and yet this fact is given barely a five second nod in the film, after which the husband utters one comment off camera but never speaks to the reasons for his choice of Debbie as a mate.
Nevertheless, it's a well told story, with the added attraction of describing some of the challenges and pitfalls of shaping research into a non-fiction story. In the end, people respond to story, though it may not deliver the whole complex truth.
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!