Reel Asian Film Screening: The Dragon Painter

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Monday, November 11th, 2019

Monday, November 11, 20198:00PM - 9:30PMExternal Event, Innis Town Hall Theatre, 2 Sussex Avenue
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Please note that the registration is now CLOSED.

Same-day rush tickets will be available from 7 PM on the night of the show.

Feature Presentation
The Dragon Painter

USA 1919
Silent with English intertitles

William Worthington

Sessue Hayakawa
Tsuru Aoki
Edward Peil
Toyo Fujita

An early Hollywood silent film, The Dragon Painter is a fantasy romance about love and creative inspiration. Tatsu (Hayakawa) is a reclusive artist who lives in the mountains of Japan painting images of the dragon princess he loved in another life. He comes to believe the daughter of a wealthy art collector is his lost princess, but as Tatsu finds happiness in love, his art begins to suffer.

In his prime, Hayakawa was as popular as Charlie Chaplin, as rich as Douglas Fairbanks, and to this day, the only Asian American to own his own Hollywood studio. Hayakawa founded Haworth Pictures Corporation after becoming fed up with the self-proclaimed Orientalist roles in which he was cast by the major studios, including his character in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Cheat. Hayakawa’s studio subsequently released 19 films between the years of 1918 to 1922.

Although set in Japan, The Dragon Painter was shot on location in Yosemite National Park and stars a predominantly Japanese American cast, including Hayakawa’s wife, Tsuru Aoki. Produced by Hayakawa’s own studio, the film deliberately strived to provide an authentic perspective on Japanese culture that countered the dominant narrative of stereotypes, violence, and melodramatic conflict expected in so-called “Oriental” films of the period. For these reasons, it is considered it to be one of the first Asian American films in history. – Rob Buscher

On the occasion of the film’s 100th Anniversary, The Dragon Painter will be presented with a live musical accompaniment and an original score by Los Angeles-based musician Goh Nakamura that was originally commissioned by the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. A presentation on Hayakawa’s work and legacy will be given by Stephen Gong, film archivist and executive director of the Center for Asian American Media, who was responsible for locating and overseeing the restoration of the last existing print of The Dragon Painter.

The screening will be followed by a discussion moderated by Takashi Fujitani, Professor of History at the University of Toronto where he holds the Dr. David Chu Chair and is Director of the Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies.

Please arrive early as all tickets become void as of 15 minutes before showtime.

Main Sponsor

Asian Institute


Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival


Toronto Silent Film Festival

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