Seeking Asian Female is part of PBS' Independent Lens Spring 2013 season and was featured on This American Life on NPR.
Debbie Lum's brilliant, unpredictable, hilarious and poignant film, Seeking Asian Female, is a jewel. She follows a suspicious romance, to reveal dimensions not just of their hearts, but of her own---and with that, ours.
Steven is a 60-year-old white American man who works as a cashier in a garage and dreams of marrying a young Asian woman. Debbie, a Chinese American filmmaker, documents his obsessive search for potential brides over the Internet because she hopes to make an exposé about his "yellow fever." When Jianhua, or "Sandy," a 30-year-old woman from Anhui, China, agrees to Steven's online proposal and moves to California to be his fiancé, unexpected complications arise for all three: bride, groom and filmmaker. From one surprising turn to the next, as the 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. With comic and poignant twists and turns, this roller coaster relationship documentary becomes a challengingly honest love story for the ages.
Seeking Asian Female is a deceptively funny and entertaining film that mines complex issues of race, gender, and migration. There is nothing simple about this story. What begins as a lampoon of white male fantasies of Asian women, becomes an intensely human drama that triangulates immigration, love, representation, and the ethics of filmmaking.
Seeking Asian Female is not, and indeed could not possibly be, merely about the vexations of realized fantasy or the psychology of "yellow fever," as Lum set out to explore. Sandy is no object of anyone's wish-fulfillment. Her marriage to Steven is far secondary to her self-sufficiency, bravery, and intelligence in defining who she is.
Debbie Lum’s engaging and moving documentary, Seeking Asian Female, challenges Western expectations about love, marriage and sexuality within International Marriage industries. The film sends us reeling down a tender migration story where two people surprise us at every turn as they grapple with whether it is possible to love across different languages, worldviews, and expectations.
Seeking Asian Female manages to be hilarious, unsettling, heartfelt and just plain icky all at the same time, while diving headfirst into the issue of "yellow fever" in a complex and character-driven way.
Mesmerizing... nearly every assumption at the film’s beginning is ultimately countered and overturned...
I loved this movie.