One of the most important international prizes, the Nobel Peace Prize, has been awarded to 17-year old Malala Yousafzai for her courage and resiliency. She is the youngest recipient ever in the Nobel Award’s history. The Nobel Prizes have been awarded since 1901. Click here to read the committee’s public statement about the 2014 award.
1982 is a watershed year in Asian-American cinema as Wayne Wang’s low-budget film Chan is Missing becomes an art house success and launches his directing career, including The Joy Luck Club (1993). Bernardo Bertolucci’s international production of The Last Emperor (1987) brings western attention to several performers including Lisa Lu, Joan Chen and John Lone.
Chan is Missing (1982) National Film Registry (1995) Gandhi (1982) Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor Ben Kingsly and 6 other awards The Karate Kid (1984) Nominated Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role Pat Morita The Killing Fields (1984) Academy Award Best Supporting Actor Haing S. Ngor and 2 other awards The Last Emperor (1987) Academy Award for Best Picture and 8 other awards Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1988) Nominated for Academy Award Best Documentary
Despite the early success of Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa in silent film [See http://ext.morainevalley.edu/librarynews/?p=1982], few significant roles were created for Asian performers and often large roles went to heavily made up non-Asian performers. This practice came to be known as ‘yellowface.’ Examples of this in the collection include:
In the late 1950’s Hollywood takes a greater interest in Asian portrayals and three stars emerge: Miyoshi Umeki, Nancy Kwan and James Shigeta. All three combine their talents in the film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Flower Drum Song (1961).
Miyoshi Umeki is the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award in 1958.
1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a landmark in American film as Native-born actor Will Sampson was cast in a significant role as a Native American. His success in film and television marks a turning point for Native and First Nations performers.
Director Michael Apted’s Incident at Oglala [documentary] and Thunderheart [feature film] (both 1992) question the conviction of Native American leader Leonard Peltier for the murder of two FBI agents near Oglala, SD in 1975.
Many films have portrayed Native and First Nations peoples but few have been written from their perspective or performed by Native-born performers. An early exception to this is The Silent Enemy (1930) which features an all-Ojibway cast recreating nomadic tribal ways in a silent film. The enemy of the title is hunger.
Cecil B. DeMille made three film versions of The Squaw Man (1914, 1918, 1931) about a western rancher who marries a Native bride and faces social ostracization and prejudice. The library’s collection includes a DVD containing the 1914 original and the 1931 talking versions.
Native portrayals 1914-1970 (click on titles for location and availability)
These two decades brought fame to a new a new group of directors including Maya Angelou, Charles Burnett, Julie Dash and Spike Lee as well as a new generation of performers in film including Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker and Alfre Woodard among others.