My Sight Is Lined with Visions: 1990s Asian American Film & Video

My Sight Is Lined with Visions: 1990s Asian American Film & Video

14 Episodes

While recent years have marked a breakthrough in Asian American representation in mainstream cinema, there exists a vibrant counter-history of boundary-pushing independent and experimental filmmaking by Asian American artists that remains largely overlooked. Revisiting the wide-ranging film and video work produced by Asian American filmmakers in the 1990s, My Sight Is Lined with Visions spotlights iconoclastic voices whose work challenges both stylistic conventions and traditional modes of representation, including Trinh T. Minh-ha, whose 1989 feature SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM heralded a decade of formally ambitious filmmaking to come; Rea Tajiri (STRAWBERRY FIELDS), whose work confronts the scars of Japanese American interment; Spencer Nakasako (KELLY LOVES TONY), who pioneered a form of collaborative documentary filmmaking that gives young people the lens to tell their own stories; and Justin Lin and Quentin Lee, whose outré SHOPPING FOR FANGS deserves to takes its place as a queer cult classic. This collection is curated by Abby Sun and Keisha Knight, and is an expansion of their online screening and discussion series, which ran from January 2021–January 2022.

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My Sight Is Lined with Visions: 1990s Asian American Film & Video
  • Surname Viet Given Name Nam

    Episode 1

    Directed by Trinh T. Minh-ha • 1989 • United States, Vietnam

    Vietnamese-born Trinh T. Minh-ha’s profoundly personal documentary explores the role of Vietnamese women historically and in contemporary society. Using dance, printed texts, folk poetry, and the words and experiences of Vietnamese wom...

  • Terminal USA

    Episode 2

    Directed by Jon Moritsugu • 1993 • United States
    Starring Jon Moritsugu, Amy Davis, Jenny Woo

    Shot in eyeball-scorching Panavision, TERMINAL USA is underground anarcho-punk auteur Jon Moritsugu’s freak-out magnum opus that shocked America—and prompted a conservative outcry against public funding...

  • Fresh Kill

    Episode 3

    Directed by Shu Lea Cheang • 1994 • United States
    Starring Sarita Choudhury, Erin McMurtry, Abraham Lim

    Taiwanese-born new-media visionary Shu Lea Cheang directs this avant-anarcho ecosatire, in which a lesbian couple living on Staten Island find themselves ensnared in a vast conspiracy involvin...

  • Bontoc Eulogy

    Episode 4

    Directed by Marlon Fuentes • 1995 • United States, Philippines
    Starring Marlon Fuentes, Jordan Porter, Nicole Antonio

    In this poignant experimental docudrama, director Marlon Fuentes explores deeply personal questions of Filipino American identity via an eye-opening account of the 1904 St. Louis...

  • Shopping for Fangs

    Episode 5

    Directed by Quentin Lee and Justin Lin • 1997 • United States
    Starring John Cho, Jeanne Chinn, Radmar Agana Jao

    This deliriously entertaining, ultra-low-budget cult favorite marked the directorial debut of future blockbuster helmer Justin Lin, who codirected along with his UCLA classmate Quentin...

  • Strawberry Fields

    Episode 6

    Directed by Rea Tajiri • 1997 • United States
    Starring Suzy Nakamura, James Sie, Reiko Mathieu

    Amid the political turbulence and heady counterculture of early 1970s, Vietnam-era America, Irene (Suzy Nakamura), a rebellious sixteen-year-old Japanese American girl, leaves home and takes off on a r...

  • Kelly Loves Tony

    Episode 7

    Directed by Spencer Nakasako • 1998 • United States
    Starring Tony Saelio, Kelly Saeteum

    For this remarkably raw, candid video diary, documentarian Spencer Nakasako gave a camcorder to a young Laotian American couple living in the Bay Area. Over the course of eighteen months, Kelly, a promising h...

  • Sally’s Beauty Spot

    Episode 8

    Directed by Helen Lee • 1990 • Canada
    Starring Sally Lee

    A large black mole above an Asian woman’s breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film, a provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity. Offscreen women’s voices and scenes from...

  • Banana Split

    Episode 9

    Directed by Kip Fulbeck • 1991 • United States
    Starring Kip Fulbeck

    Kip Fulbeck’s landmark video work on Hapa identity is a raw, funny, fearlessly honest account of growing up biracial.

  • History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige

    Episode 10

    Directed by Rea Tajiri • 1991 • United States

    Filmmaker Rea Tajiri’s family was among the 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Drawing from a variety of sources—Hollywood spectacle, government propaganda, newsreels, mem...

  • Voices of the Morning

    Episode 11

    Directed by Meena Nanji • 1992 • United States

    Meena Nanji’s poetic video work explores the psychological and social constraints experienced by some women growing up under orthodox Islamic law.

  • The Trained Chinese Tongue

    Episode 12

    Directed by Laurie Wen • 1994 • United States

    Filmmaker Laurie Wen examines how Chinese immigrants live at the complex crossroads of food, language, colonization, and immigration by approaching a series of strangers—all immigrant women—in a Chinatown grocery store and then following them home fo...

  • Melons (At a Loss)

    Episode 13

    Directed by Patty Chang • 1998 • United States

    In this piece inspired by her aunt’s death from breast cancer, performance artist Patty Chang juggles a narrative about an imaginary cultural ritual with the act of cutting and eating a melon while balancing a plate on her head.

  • Sea in the Blood

    Episode 14

    Directed by Richard Fung • 2000 • Canada

    SEA IN THE BLOOD is video artist Richard Fung’s personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the filmmaker’s relationship to both AIDS and the blood disorder thalassemia, which afflicted his partner and sister respectively.