Despite being in the public eye for over 90 years, Dr Fu Manchu, the popular Chinese villain has only ever been played on screen by white men. In her film, Lee subverts the practice of ‘yellow face’ by inviting actors of east and southeast Asian heritage to audition for the role of Fu Manchu. Over 50 actors, male, female and non-binary, sent her self shot audition tapes with their re-appropriated versions of the character, a selection of which form the basis of the film.
In 1912, when Sax Rohmer dreamt up his fictional Dr Fu Manchu, the evil Chinese doctor set on world domination, Yellow Peril was rife. Often painted as a faceless existential threat to the western world, east Asians were seen as a force that needed to be suppressed. Over 100 years later, COVID-related racist attacks towards east and southeast Asians has demonstrated that Yellow Peril is still alive today.
Watch the Q&A from the Premiere below.
Commissioned by Chinese Arts Now
Daniel York Loh, Elisabeth Gunawan, Eric Mok, Sabrina Pui Yee Chin, Luna Dai, Lilian Tsang, Joyce Veheary, Jacqui Ong, Kyoko Takenaka, Siu-see Hung, Hi Ching
Additional Cinematography: Dan Loops
Casting Director: Nicci Topping
Composer, Sound Design & Online Editor: Francis Morgan-Giles
Edited, Produced & Directed by: Eelyn Lee