Directed by Marion E. Wong • 1917 • United States
Introduction: This film has been programmed as part of the series Hollywood Chinese, a survey curated by filmmaker Arthur Dong on the history of Chinese representation in American cinema. For further context, we recommend watching his series introduction and his documentary HOLLYWOOD CHINESE, now playing on the Channel.
The earliest known Chinese American feature and a rare silent film directed by a woman, THE CURSE OF QUON GWON was the sole directorial effort of Marion E. Wong, who also served as writer, producer, and actor. Shot in Oakland, California, and starring Wong’s sister-in-law, the film—which deals with assimilation via the story of an ancient curse that strikes a Chinese American family as it becomes increasingly westernized—was lost for decades being rediscovered in 2004 with the help of filmmaker Arthur Dong during his work on HOLLYWOOD CHINESE. Though only two reels survive, they represent a fascinating record of Chinese American participation in the early American film industry.