Q

How one of Hollywood's first Asian stars challenged stereotypes 100 years ago

Long before movies like Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell came along, a silent film called The Dragon Painter tried to blaze a trail for Asian representation on screen.
Sessue Hayakawa, left, plays Tatsu in The Dragon Painter (1919). (Milestone Film & Video)
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Long before movies like Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell came along, a silent film called The Dragon Painter tried to blaze a trail for Asian representation on screen.

The Dragon Painter, which first screened a century ago in 1919, tells the story of an artist looking for his love. Once he finds her, he loses his creativity.

The film stars Sessue Hayakawa, an unlikely and largely forgotten star of silent film. Stephen Gong, the executive director of the Center for Asian American Media, joined us to tell us more about Hayakawa and how he came to star in a film that was far ahead of its time.

You can catch a screening of The Dragon Painter tonight in Toronto as part of the Reel Asian Film Festival.

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