FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR
ASIAN WOMEN DIRECTORS KICK ASS
Updated: Feb 15, 2020
When I first started writing "Dirty Rotten Tofu" back in 2010 there were only two Asian woman directors I knew about: Christine Choy "Who Killed Vincent Chin" (1987) and Karen Kusama who directed "Girlfight" (2000), "Aeon Flux" (2005), "Jennifer's Body"(2009) and more recently "Destroyer" (2016) with Nicole Kidman among others. In an interview (January 2019) she said "Maybe at this point I equate femaleness with being radical." I knew "Dirty Rotten Tofu" was a radical film that had never been made and I was determined to make it, but it was never my intention to become a Hollywood filmmaker. However, several Asian women directors have broken the glass ceiling in Hollywood and glass is flying like a bull in a china shop has been let loose.
Cathy Yan is the first Asian woman to direct a major superhero action film. "Birds of Prey" is from the DC Universe. Margot Robbie took the idea to Warner Bros. and is also a producer under her production company, LuckyChaps. Warner brought in Cathy. "So I went in with, not with confidence, but at least a sense that I belonged in the room..." You can read how she got the job here. "The tone of the film is similar to that in my films," she said. "There is a half-Asian character and our screenwriter (Christina Hodson) is half Chinese..." In the comic, the half-Asian girl is a mute martial artist named Cassandra Cain (alias Orphan).
Debra Chow directed two episodes of "The Mandalorian" and is the first woman in forty-two years to direct a "Star Wars" project. She'll also be directing the "Obi Wan" series for Disney. For more on that story, click here. The flavor of her work on the "Mandalorian" has been described as "space western." (Sound familiar?)
These women represent a big step forward for Asian women directors. Question is, how long are these doors going to stay open? Is this just a trend or is the industry serious about moving forward? More importantly, does it have a choice?