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To satisfy PBS legal requirements, Yunah Hong has to buy the TV rights to archival footage in her completed documentary.
To satisfy PBS legal requirements, Yunah Hong has to buy the TV rights to archival footage in her completed documentary.
To satisfy PBS legal requirements, Yunah Hong has to buy the TV rights to archival footage in her completed documentary.
263 backers pledged $20,195 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Get ANNA MAY WONG on public TV

$20,195

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Many thanks to all of the people who have supported this project. One way or another it will happen!

My one-hour documentary, Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words, shows how Anna May Wong (1905-1961) became an artist, a world figure and an activist in spite of the prejudices of her time. It had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival and has been in four American and Canadian festivals.

Right from the beginning I wanted this documentary to reach a wider audience, especially young Asian Americans and other minorities, to inspire them to have a dream and to follow it the way Anna did. One of the film’s funders, the Center for Asian American Media, will distribute it to public television stations. But first I have to buy the broadcast rights to footage I use from Anna May Wong’s films. Paying for rights, and for the insurance PBS requires, will cost me $20,000. If I can’t raise that money the film won’t reach a national audience.

Anna May Wong grew up in Los Angeles, where her parents ran a laundry. She first starred, at age 17, in Toll of the Sea, a silent version of Madame Butterfly. She went on to make dozens of films in Hollywood, London and Berlin, co-starring with Marlene Dietrich, Anthony Quinn, Douglas Fairbanks and Philip Ahn. She was glamorous; photographers loved her. She was a charming and interesting person whose friends included Carl van Vechten, Evelyn Waugh and Paul Robeson. Yet she spent most of her career playing painted dolls and dragon ladies.

Many older Asian Americans look down on Anna for playing stock Asian characters. But a younger generation sees her as a pioneering artist who beat the odds in a tough industry. Besides her strength as a woman, I admire her for pushing herself as an actress. When her film roles were limited, she traveled around Europe performing in cabarets, polishing her talents as a singer, dancer and monologuist. When MGM didn’t cast her in The Good Earth, a film set in China, she went to China anyway and filmed her trip. Long before anyone was called a “community activist,” she devoted herself to the Chinese American community’s war effort during World War II. She was way ahead of her time. Her courage to be herself against all odds is truly inspiring, the kind of story I want my ten-year-old daughter to know.

The Center for Asian American Media, a consortium of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, exists to bring Asian American programs to public TV. Don Young, Program Director at CAAM, says this about the project:

"I feel that 'Anna May Wong' is a very strong prospect for broadcast during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May). Yunah has done an exceptional job with her material – she has put a tremendous amount of energy and intelligence into the film. She has one more hurdle to pass before we can send the film to PBS. She has secured partial copyright licenses for her film clips of Anna May Wong -- for festival screenings, but not for national broadcast. Until she does that, she cannot obtain the Errors and Omissions Insurance PBS requires. Both of these steps cost money. I strongly urge anyone who cares about Asian Americans in the media to help Yunah tie up these loose ends."

Some of our rewards:

                Blossoms T-shirt                                        Plumes T-shirt

              Shanghai Express T-shirt                        Red and Black T-shirt            

                              Poster (24"x36")

FAQ

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    All donors $5 and up: We will put your name on the website as a supporter of our documentary.

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    41 backers
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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    A personal e-mail from Yunah Hong with behind-the-scenes news and photos

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $17 or more About $17

    Raise your current pledge $17 or more and I will mail you an 8x10 Anna May Wong miniposter. (this includes all the people who have already raised their pledges – I am very grateful!)

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    An "In Her Own Words" postcard with a thank you from the filmmaker

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    We will mail you a facsimile of one of Anna May Wong’s letters from the 1930s.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    A CD of the film’s original soundtrack, composed by Kevin Norton, published by Enduring Heart (ASCAP).

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    17 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Three glossy 8x10 publicity shots of Anna May Wong, suitable for framing.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A DVD of the documentary

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Your choice of a “Blossoms” T-shirt or a “Plumes” T-shirt or a “Red and Black” T-shirt or a “Shanghai Express” T-shirt. (shown at left)

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    10 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A glossy 8x10 print of an Anna May Wong photo from the 1920s, and a DVD of the documentary

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    23 backers
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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    A limited edition poster of the film (shown at left), autographed for you by the director

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    An autographed poster and a DVD of the documentary

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    2 backers
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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    An autographed poster, your choice of a “Blossoms,” "Plumes," "Shanghai Express" or "Red and Black" T-shirt, and a DVD of the documentary

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    5 backers
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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    An acting or writing session with Esther Chae, actress, playwright, and TED fellow – see www.estherchae.com -- plus a DVD of the documentary. Los Angeles only.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    Photocopies of Anna May Wong's published interviews (including the one with Walter Benjamin), a DVD of the film and a T-shirt of your choice.

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    2 backers
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    An acting lesson with Vivian Bang, star of the small screen – see www.vivianbang.com -- and a DVD of the documentary. Los Angeles only.

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  17. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A private drum lesson with Kevin Norton, sideman for Fred Frith, David Krakauer and Anthony Braxton – see www.kevinnorton.com -- and a DVD of the documentary. Greater NYC only.

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  18. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A poster, a DVD of the film, a T-shirt of your choice, two facsimiles of Anna May Wong letters, three publicity photos and a thank-you call from the director.

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  19. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Yunah Hong will visit your child’s school or college, show the film and lead a discussion. Greater New York only

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  20. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    A 3-DVD set of Yunah Hong’s documentaries: “Anna May Wong”(2010), “Becoming an Actress in New York”(2000) and “Between the Lines: Asian American Women’s Poetry” (2001), plus an autographed poster.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A prominent credit on the film’s public TV broadcast as a “major donor.” We have only three of these so far.

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  22. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Lunch with Yunah Hong, a DVD of the documentary, a T-shirt of your choice and an autographed poster. Greater New York only

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Yunah Hong will come to your home town and do a private screening of the documentary just for you. She will bring you a poster, a DVD, and a T-shirt of your choice. U.S. only.

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Funding period

- (30 days)