When it comes to cinema, I am first, and foremost, an enthusiast. I mean that as someone who loves film as a both form of art and entertainment but also as a powerful medium through which identities, anxieties and imaginations are created and projected, literally and figuratively. I wouldn't be so passionate about film (Asian American or otherwise) without both these basic loves for the craft and its potential.
My first exposure to Asian American cinema came through NAATA, the National Asian American Telecommunications Association (since renamed CAAM - The Center for Asian American Media) and their annual SFIAAFF (San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival). I don't remember exactly when I went to my first SFIAAFF (only that it would have been in the early 1990s) but that was an initial glimpse.
My more formal introduction came in the spring of 1997 when, as a graduate student at UC Berkeley, I took Asian American Film and Video with instructor and filmmaker Spencer Nakasako. In addition to practically camping out at the SFIAAFF in 1996 and 1997, this was a baptism of sorts, a heady, thrilling leap into a history and community that I hadn't known much about before but one that I was eager to take part in.
I ended up assisting the teaching of the film course in the next year, when instructor and writer Alvin Lu took over from Spencer. Eventually, I became the primary course instructor for the Berkeley course, teaching it over half a dozen times during the academic year and summer session. It is, by far, one of the classes I've enjoyed teaching the most, both because the material is dear to me as well as a class that my students also become invested in as well. It also gave me access to a deep and diverse library of Asian American shorts and features, narratives and documentaries that I might not otherwise have seen as a conventional viewer.
Concurrent with this, I began writing on Asian American film by 1998, previewing the Festival for Asian Week (yeah, that Asian Week) and the SF Bay Guardian in 1999 and 2000. In the fall of 2000, I was asked to join the Festival Screening Committee and for the next six years, served on the committee, mostly evaluating feature length submissions. In the years since, I continue to write for the SFIAFF catalog and review films - something I couldn't do as directly during my committee years given the potential conflict of interest.
Freed from that burden of impartiality, I created Chasing Chan as a way to engage and evaluate the arcs that Asian American cinema has taken, with the eventual intention of molding this site and its contents into a book-length project.
At current, I am a professor of sociology at CSU-Long Beach and live in Los Angeles with my wife and daughter. You can find more information here.