SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE (Debbie Lum, U.S.). 84 minutes. Some subtitles. Sunday (November 11), 1 pm, Royal.
Debbie Lum's documentary starts out exploring the idea of Caucasian men who only date Asian women - a phenomenon she's familiar with as an Asian-American woman living in California who gets come-ons from white guys saying hello in Cantonese.
But rather than tackle that rich topic and all it suggests about cultural and sexual stereotypes, she focuses on one man, Steven, a twice-divorced Caucasian guy in his early 60s who's corresponded with hundreds of Asian women, including one whom he recently met and proposed to on the same day. When another woman, Sandy, a 30-year-old from Shenzen, arrives at his cluttered San Francisco apartment intending to marry him, things don't go as expected.
Lum, who also narrates, ends up being their translator and Sandy's confidante, and realizes midway through that she may be affecting the outcome. There are lots of gaps: What does Steven's family think of it all? And what does Lum's own Caucasian partner think of her subject?
But it's still a gripping, complex film that has us constantly shifting our sympathies and wondering who wants what from whom.