Events , San Francisco

A Journal of the Plague Year: Saturday Screenings #1

A primary point of departure for A Journal of the Plague Year and many of its artists is the portrayal of “the other” in pop-culture. Demonized or exoticized depictions of Asians and Asian Americans pervade popular films, both reflecting on and perpetuating racial and social inequalities. On Saturday, April 11 and 18, a selection of relevant feature films will be screened during gallery hours. These films address the role of popular culture in the formation of modern societies and contributes to the exhibition’s critical discussion about xenophobia and recent history.


Together The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) and Only God Forgives (2013) reflect the archetypal representation of the evil and violent Asian gangster. 

3pm – The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) directed by Charles Brabin, with Boris Karloff, Myrna Loy, and Lewis Stone. 68 minutes.

Mixing black humor and Grand Guignol torture scenes, the film follows scientist and linguist Dr. Fu Manchu on a relentless quest to find the golden mask of Ghenghis Khan–the key to infinite power over the “white race.” Featured extensively in cinema, television, and radio, the character of Dr. Fu Manchu was first introduced in the mid-1910s in the midst of strong Anti-Asian sentiment in Western countries by British novelist Sax Rohmer. The evil genius Doctor later became a personification of the “yellow peril.”

Film clip

5pm – Only God Forgives (2013) directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Vithaya Pansringarm. 90 minutes.

Julian runs a drug-smuggling business in Bangkok under the cover of a Thai boxing club. After his brother is murdered for killing an underage prostitute, Julian finds himself trapped in a succession of executions and tortures in order to settle the assassinations.