About this project
We've made our goal with time remaining! THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!
So what happens now? Stretch goal: $25,000!
Please read Updates # 8-11 to find out more about our stretch goal...
seeking asian female is a feature-length personal documentary about the unlikely romance of Steven and Jianhua (a.k.a. “Sandy”) - an American man who is obsessed with marrying any Asian woman and the Chinese woman half his age who agrees over the Internet to be his fiancee. Debbie, a Chinese American filmmaker, documents with skepticism and humor, from the early stages of Steven’s search, through the moment Sandy steps foot in America for the first time, to a year into their precarious union. From one unexpected turn to the next as these two online pen pals attempt to overcome vast differences in age, language and culture for the sake of a real-life marriage, the filmmaker gets pulled deeper into their story. And as her role morphs from documentarian to translator to couple’s counselor, this roller coaster relationship becomes more intimate and more human, ultimately becoming a strangely compelling love story for the ages.
How and Why I Made This
As you may have guessed, it’s been years in the making!
For the first few of them, I borrowed equipment, spent my savings and doggedly interviewed dozens and dozens of men who posted online personal ads exclusively seeking Asian women through websites like Craigslist personals and Asiafriendfinder. I followed a matchmaker and recent immigrant from Beijing who specializes in introducing immigrant Asian women to American men in Silicon Valley. I interviewed experts and academics, poets and activists, and men and women who had very strong opinions about this ever-growing cultural phenomenon. But years later when Steven, who was one of my early interview subjects, actually found Sandy, and she agreed to let me film her, everything changed.
First I jumped into to what was obviously going to become a new and different film. Then for the first three months of their relationship - which was also the first three months of Sandy’s life in America, I practically lived with them as I observed whether or not Sandy would marry Steven before her 90-day fiancee visa expired. I wanted to understand what were Sandy and Steven’s real motivations to make this relationship happen? I went on to film another year and a half, and in the end, all of my expectations about them and the film I had intended to make were shattered. At this point, many years into production, I also finally received my first grant - from the California Council for the Humanities (Cal Humanites). Since then I’ve been supported by Chicken and Egg Pictures, the Center for Asian American Media, Women in Film Foundation, ITVS and KQED.
With the support of these many wonderful organizations and having just had our world-premiere at SXSW film festival, you might wonder why we’re having a kickstarter...
The truth is, the hard work of seeking asian female continues...and we still need to raise the final 20% of our budget in order to ensure that the film makes its way to YOU!
So What Happens Next?
After all the positive reception by audiences and press at SXSW, the PBS TV series, Independent Lens, picked up our piece for their next season. This means that you will be able to see it -- but before this happens we must cut the film down from feature-length to television hour. This means:
- Go back into the editing room to cut 30 minutes out of our film
- Additional color grading of new material
- Compose new music and secure additional music rights
- Revise titles, subtitles, credits, voice-over, sound mix and online.
- Submitting to film festivals nationally and internationally
- Travel and promotional expenses
- Additional music rights for home video and education
- Developing the tools to support community engagement and education
You Can Help Us Make It Happen!By backing our project, you will be instrumental in helping us complete our one-hour broadcast version AND to express our deepest thanks we’re offering you a chance to see the 84-minute director’s cut, before the broadcast next year.
When you join our kickstarter, you will be an investor in the film’s future. The one-hour broadcast version will allow us more opportunities to show the film to many different people in many different communities - and for example, can be used in schools and universities and other environments for learning.
Many of you have already helped us along the way, and we want to thank you for your ongoing support. Every little bit helps, including telling all your friends how much you love our project too!
All of us here from the SAF team want to thank you for considering our kickstarter campaign. We are very excited about our film. We want you to see it. We want the world to see it. Please help us get it out to more audiences!
Thank you for your support!
The SAF Team: Chris Guevarra (Co-Producer), Cianna Stewart (Co-Producer, Interactive Media), Debbie Lum (Director, Producer, Writer, Editor), Tina Nguyen (Editor, Co-Writer, Co-Producer), S. Leo Chiang (Consulting Producer), Maikiko James (Engagement Consultant), Corey Tong (Producer's Rep)
Don't just take our word for it. Here's what reviewers are saying:
“The end result is mesmerizing...nearly every assumption you have at the film's beginning is ultimately countered and overturned by its conclusion.” -- Jeff Yang, Wall Street Journal (wsj.com)
“terrifically engaging... stripped of talking heads and whizzy effects... Just a compelling, subtle story...” -- Catherine Shoard, the UK’s Guardian
I loved this film! -- Adam Frazier, MovieHole
Before the opening credits of “Seeking Asian Female” have finished rolling, producer/director/writer/editor/camera-woman Debbie Lum has already broken the fourth wall. She tells you (yes, you) what this documentary-style film is about—the aging, “Yellow Fever”-afflicted Stephen, his courtship of the native Chinese woman Sandy, and her own direct involvement and sway throughout their entire relationship. But that’s just one way to describe what “Seeking Asian Female” is actually about. Its story raises issues about latent racism and sexism in America. Its context highlights American imperialism and ethnocentrism. Its themes expose U.S. immigration policies and marriage rights. And the finished product raises so very many questions about the role of a filmmaker in a so-called documentary. Though at times frustrating and downright disturbing, “Seeking Asian Female” succeeds through its storytelling of a rarely publicized social phenomenon. And in so doing, Lum forces audiences to acknowledge the controversial thematic and cinematic aspects of the film and to reach individual conclusions through their own moral and artistic compasses. --Hilary Saunders, Paste Magazine
Pledge today at $50 or above and you don't have to take their word for it - you can see the film for yourself!
***NEW REWARD*** Uncle Peng Tzu's
Gift: (Only 12 available)
One - 100% cotton t-shirt, hand-painted with original Chinese watercolor design by Debbie's Uncle Peng Tzu, and One - Pre-Release DVD.
Mr. Peng Tzu, a 69-year-old painter and calligrapher of Tang Lake Style, lives in Chengdu, Sichuan. He is vice president of Ark orphanage in Sichuan Province, China. He is also the Peng Family Culture Research scholar and senior adviser. His t-shirts come in 6 original color designs and 6 black and white. Each is an original painting on a Men's Large t-shirt. (You can only specify color or b/w.) Here are two examples in color and b/w:
Make a point with our set of 3 buttons!
"His and Her" T-shirts!
Seeking Asian Female Artist! Original ceramic piece by Jeri Au, one of Debbie's favorite Asian American female artists from her hometown, St. Louis, Missouri. (Only 1 available)
"The Asian Mystique" by Sheridan Prasso! Autographed and Out-of-print hard cover!
Original "Seeking Asian Female" poster - signed by Debbie Lum!
Thank you to everyone for all of your support! We couldn't do this without you!
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