Seeking Asian Female

Can an Asian fetish lead to true love?
Year Released
Film Length(s)
53 mins
Remote video URL


Seeking Asian Female premiered at SXSW Film Festival in US documentary competition, was a "fan favorite" on PBS' Independent Lens and was featured on This American Life on NPR.

Featured review

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.
Janet Grillo
Asst Arts Professor, NYU, Tisch School of the Arts, Undergraduate Film and Television Programs


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.
Renne Tajima-Pena
Professor Asian American Studies, Director EthnoCommunications, UCLA
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.
Boer Deng
The Atlantic
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.
Felicity Amaya Schaeffer
Professor, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz; Author of Love and Empire, Cybermarriage and Citizenship Across the Americas
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.
Nicole Wong
Senior Editor
Mesmerizing... nearly every assumption at the film's beginning is ultimately countered and overturned...
Jeff Yang
The Wall Street Journal
I loved this movie.
Linda Holmes

Awards and Screenings

Outstanding Director of a Feature Documentary, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Best Female-directed Documentary, Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Midrash Award, St. Louis International Film Festival

Director Commentary

Included in the Educational DVD are both versions of the film, the 83-minute "director's cut" and the 53-minute broadcast version. It also contains deleted scenes, original artwork, the film trailer and the 5-part short video series from the film's companion web project, They're All So Beautiful. Streaming contains 53-minute version only. The film's multi-disciplinary story has been used by professionals and educators in these fields: Aging and Gerontology, Asian Studies, Asian Pacific American Studies, Anthropology, Chinese Studies, Cinema Studies, Ethnic Studies, Immigration Studies, Psychology and Marriage Counseling, Sociology, and Women's Studies. Visit for more resources about race and dating, stereotypes of Asian women and Asian American identity.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • DVD Extras
  • Resources for Educators

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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