Sunday, November 25, 2012

RAFF 2012 Film Review - Seeking Asian Female

The main publicity photo for Seeking Asian Female tells a lot the story of Debbie Lum's documentary. The filmmaker is in the signature wedding photo of her two main characters Steven and Sandy. The photo shows that Lum has blurred the lines between director/observer and friend/confidant/marriage counsellor for the couple.

Lum decided to make this documentary based on her experience growing up on the US west coast. Lum describes a history of constant interest from white males as she describes it only because she is Asian or because they have Yellow Fever. Lum who is married to a caucasian male sets out to explore this phenomenon and begins a search for a subject to be the centre of her documentary.

During her search of the Asian dating websites she comes across Steven's profile and knows that he is the perfect subject. Twice divorced recently turned 60, with zero filter and living above a store in San Francisco Steven would be a goldmine of material for her documentary.

Steven has a long history of dating Asian women that spans all the way back to the days of catalogues up to the modern day Internet sites.  He has had several strong relationships, when he meets Sandy online and determines that she is the one that he wants to marry.

Steven arranges to bring Sandy to America on a one year visa and if they do not marry within the year she has to go back to China.

Lum explores Sandy's reasoning for coming to get to know and possibly marry Steven.  She is now in her thirties and considers herself with little chance of obtaining a suitable husband in China. She is hopeful that she can lean a profession and become happy in America.

Due to Sandy's lack of English and Lum's knowledge of Mandarin Sandy confides her thoughts and wishes to the director which puts Lum in the middle of the relationship. The couple have several disputes where Lum is called in at all ours of the day and night to smooth things out and is conflicted with the thought that if she was not around perhaps Sandy would have returned home and the wedding would not take place.  If they don't marry it may be best for the two of them in the long run but would it be best for her documentary?

Seeking Asian Female gives a unique look into the world of ethnic specific dating from the few of the pursuer and the pursued. Director Lum found two interesting and muli-layered main players for her documentary who openly show the ups and downs of any relationship with a language barrier, cultural and pre- conceived notions of each others culture on top to create a fascinating, funny, emotional and on occasion cringe worthy piece.

A film that I can recommend.

*** out of 4

Seeking Asian Female | Debbie Lum | U.S.A. 2012 | 85 Minutes.

Reel Asian Film Festival 2012.

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