The Blessing of Quon Gwon

It's the stuff of science fiction fantasies: communicating with the distant future. Time travel. Yet meet Marion Wong: Several years ago, historian Arthur Dong was digging through an Oakland basement, researching his excellent documentary, Hollywood Chinese. He discovered The Curse of Quon Gwon, a 35-minute feature film made by Wong in 1916. Since then, the delicate film reels have been given celebrity treatment by the National Film Registry and other organizations that can't believe their good luck. The story is about cultural assimilation; it's a Chinese-American's story seen through her own eyes. From 90 years ago, Marion Wong is speaking to us about her life — about which we'd know precious little otherwise. Time travel. (Especially considering mainstream Hollywood's horrible stereotypes of the time.) The rarity and importance of The Curse of Quon Gwon is hard to overstate, and it must also be said that the film stars the writer-director's adorably pretty cousin, Violet. Today's event celebrating the DVD Stories from Chinese America — The Arthur Dong Collection features remarks by Dong about the DVD, which has a new original score for Curse, shorts, and extras. Speaking of pretty, the evening also includes a performance by the tap-dancing grandmas of the Grant Avenue Follies, several of whom were professional dancers at the nightclubs featured in another of his films, Forbidden City, U.S.A., which chronicles the hot music and dance scene in Chinatown in the 1940s.
Sat., Nov. 13, noon, 2010

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