Seeking Asian Female Premieres on Independent Lens on Monday, May 6, 2013, on PBS

Filmmaker’s Quest to Expose Cultural and Racial Stereotypes Takes a Surprising Turn

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(San Francisco, CA) – Seeking Asian Female is the story of an Asian American filmmaker and her unlikely friendship with one of her worst nightmares: a 60-year-old white American man with a full-blown obsession for Asian women. With an incurable case of "yellow fever," Steven trolls international dating websites seeking the perfect, exotic young bride from China. Debbie Lum intended to make a film exposé of his demeaning and racist attitudes about women. Or, so she thought. Instead, as events unfold, the film becomes the surprising story of love overcoming cross-cultural challenges, as Steven’s romance with a young Chinese woman he meets online leads to marriage. Funny, hopeful, and full of the mysteries of the human heart, Seeking Asian Female premieres on Independent Lens, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, May 6, 2013, at 10pm ET (check local listings). 

When the film begins, Steven, twice-divorced and working as a garage attendant at the San Francisco airport, writes to numerous young women through an online dating site that specializes in connecting Western men with Asian women — a pursuit which often seems like utter fantasy. After several misadventures, he meets and becomes engaged to Sandy, a 30-year-old Chinese woman, who astoundingly comes to California with intentions to marry him. As the camera captures intimate moments between Sandy and Steven during Sandy’s first months in America, Lum is pulled deeper into their lives, moving from observer to active participant in the relationship. When the couple enlists her as a translator during several of their frequent spats, Lum begins to question her role as objective filmmaker. 

When reality sets in for both Sandy and Steven — disappointments, frustrations, and differing expectations — the complexities of sustaining a long-lasting relationship become apparent, particular one strained by significant cultural barriers. But they persist, and in the end, Sandy, Steven, and Debbie are all changed by what happens, as each lets go of the stereotypes and false assumptions they held about each other. 

To learn more about the film, visit the companion website for Seeking Asian Female at at ( Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section where viewers can share their ideas and opinions. 

About the Filmmaker

Debbie Lum (Director, Writer, Producer, Editor) is a San Francisco-based filmmaker and editor. Seeking Asian Female (SXSW Film Festival, “Best of Fest” at AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Film Festival) is her feature-length directing debut. Currently, she’s creating They’re All So Beautiful, an original short video webisode series and online discussion about race, romance, “Yellow Fever,” and much more. Lum has worked as a documentary editor for years; her editing credits include A.K.A Don Bonus (winner, National Emmy), Kelly Loves Tony (nominee, IDA Best Documentary), which she also co-produced, and To You Sweetheart, Aloha (winner, Audience Award, VC LA Film Festival). She has worked with notable directors, Spencer Nakasako, Wayne Wang, S. Leo Chiang, and Deann Borshay. She has also written and directed several short comedies, Chinese Beauty, A Great Deal! and One April Morning, which have screened at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival among many other festivals. She has an M.F.A in Cinema from San Francisco State University and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University. 

About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award winning weekly series airing on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacArthur Foundation. The senior series producer is Lois Vossen. More information at Join Independent Lens on Facebook at

Posted on March 13, 2013