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Independent Lens | Seeking Asian Female

Seeking Asian Female is the story of an Asian American filmmaker and her unlikely friendship with one of her worst nightmares: a 60-year-old white American man with a full-blown obsession for Asian women. With an incurable case of "yellow fever," Steven trolls international dating websites seeking the perfect, exotic young bride from China.

Debbie Lum intended to make a film exposé of his demeaning and racist attitudes about women. Or, so she thought. Instead, as events unfold, the film becomes the surprising story of love overcoming cross-cultural challenges, as Steven’s romance with a young Chinese woman he meets online leads to marriage. Funny, hopeful, and full of the mysteries of the human heart, Seeking Asian Female premieres on Independent Lens, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday,May 6, 2013 at midnight on WMHT TV.

When the film begins, Steven, twice-divorced and working as a garage attendant at the San Francisco airport, writes to numerous young women through an online dating site that specializes in connecting Western men with Asian women — a pursuit which often seems like utter fantasy. After several misadventures, he meets and becomes engaged to Sandy, a 30-year-old Chinese woman, who astoundingly comes to California with intentions to marry him. As the camera captures intimate moments between Sandy and Steven during Sandy’s first months in America, Lum is pulled deeper into their lives, moving from observer to active participant in the relationship. When the couple enlists her as a translator during several of their frequent spats, Lum begins to question her role as objective filmmaker.

When reality sets in for both Sandy and Steven — disappointments, frustrations, and differing expectations — the complexities of sustaining a long-lasting relationship become apparent, particular one strained by significant cultural barriers. But they persist, and in the end, Sandy, Steven, and Debbie are all changed by what happens, as each lets go of the stereotypes and false assumptions they held about each other.

To learn more about the film, visit the companion website for Seeking Asian Female at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/seeking-asian-female. Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section where viewers can share their ideas and opinions.

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