By Eric Lee for MOCA.

Starting July 24th, Asian CineVision (ACV) will kick off its 37th Asian American International Film Festival in New York City. Running until August 2nd, AAIFF ‘14 will be showcasing a number of awesome films, spanning four different film categories. MOCA is also proud to partner with ACV for four unique AAIFF events here at the Museum.

Check out these five films at AAIFF’14:


(Photo from AAIFF’14 Awesome Asian Bad Guys)

1.  Awesome Asian Bad Guys (2014)

Directed by Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino

Have you ever watched a Hollywood movie and thought, “Hey, a lot of these bad guys are Asian!” In the end, they always lose the battle in a gruesome way. In Dypiangco and Epino’s new screwball comedy, Awesome Asian Bad Guys, a cast of “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” from old classic movies return to “seek revenge, and kick butts.” What’s not to love in this film: iconic movie bad guys, the tribute to the Kung Fu greats, or the total kick-ass comedic action? The film will be screened on July 25th, 6pm at City Cinema Village and July 26th, 2pm at Made in NY Media Center by IFP.

Watch the trailer here.


(Photo from AAIFF’14 Fred Ho’s Last Year)

2. Fred Ho’s Last Year (2014)

Directed by Steven de Castro

Fred Ho was, without a doubt, an Asian American trailblazer. The film, directed by Steven de Castro, follows an “unapologetic Fred Ho in an unbelievable year.”  Filmed in 2013, the documentary provides an intimate glimpse into Ho’s life as a musician, activist, mentor, and pioneer, while “he fights cancer, leads orchestras, holds lectures, leads protests, publishes books, and even produced his magnum opus: an elaborate, manga-inspired samurai opera on a New York Stage.” Another exciting feature of the film is its preview screening at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) on July 31st at 7pm. Following the screening, there will be a discussion with director Steven de Castro, playwright Ruth Margraff, and Ho’s life-long friend Anne T. Greene. This is surely an opportunity that I – you, definitely don’t want to miss. The film will also be screened on August 2nd, 5:30pm at City Cinema Village.

Watch the trailer here.


(Photo from AAIFF’14 The Rice Bomber)

3. The Rice Bomber (2014)

Directed by Cho Li

When someone asks you about a film, not many first responses are about the cinematography. However, The Rice Bomber directed by Cho Li, is one of those films that will make audiences talk about its visual qualities. The film features breathtaking imagery ranging from a variety of breathtaking landscapes and intimate portraits, while following a young man named Yang Rumen, a son of a farming family. He takes matters into his own hands as he watches Taiwan enter the World Trade Organization, an act that greatly affects Taiwan’s agricultural industry and the farming life. Based on true events and characters, I am excited to watch Li’s emotional and action packed story, check out Cho Yong-kyo’s camerawork and listen to Peyman Yazdanian’s score. Watch The Rice Bomber on July 26th, 7:30pm City Cinema Village and July 27th, 2pm Made in NY Media Center by IFP.

Watch the trailer here.


(Photo from AAIFF’14 Pull Over to Kill)

4. Pull Over to Kill (2014)

Directed by Robbie Ikegami

Last semester, I took a course called FILM 262: Hong Kong Cinema. We learned about the influence of Japanese cinema on not only Hollywood’s Spaghetti Westerns, but Hong Kong’s epic Kung Fu battle sequences. This 16 minute short follows two Japanese hit men in the 60’s as they roam a desert to finish a job, only to find that things aren’t as they seem. While watching Pull Over to Kill, I immediately thought of Johnnie To and Quentin Tarantino, two cinematic greats in East Asian cinema. To is known for his gritty gangster films, while Tarantino is a huge fan of Asian art and action cinema. The film boasts a beautiful texture and color grade, while adding a bit of humor to the somewhat stationary scenes. Ikegami takes you on an incredible journey in just 16 minutes, so buckle up. Catch this terrific film preceding Awesome Asian Bad Guys July 25th, 6pm at City Cinema Village East and on July 26th, 2 pm at Made in NY Media Center by IFP.

Learn more here.


(Photo from AAIFF’14 Made in Chinatown)

5. We Are What We Wear Short Series

Directed by Jess Dela Merced, Jihye Ku, Kevin Lau, Beyon, Jess X. Chen, Quan Zhou, Yulin Liu

This isn’t necessarily one film to look out for, but six short films. The shorts range from 1 minute up to 23 minutes covering a diverse range of stories. I’m reminded by a quote my friend told me from Louis C.K., “I like making short films. They are always fun to do and you can do anything you want to (in) a short film. It doesn’t have the weight of a feature, where every moment has to serve the entire film… it’s the one thing in film you can always do.” Short films allow directors, cinematographers, and actors to produce quality work because it’s work that they love. Surely, these films give a small insight into traditional, contemporary, and personal moments of the clothing industry we see every day. I cannot wait to watch and embrace these six. Watch the shorts July 27th, 5pm at City Cinema Village.

Learn more here.         

By Eric Lee for MOCA

The Hsien Hsien and Bae Pao Lu Chow Cultural Programs Center resides on the Lafayette Street side of the Museum of Chinese in America. A large window reflects across the framed portraits of the Asian Pride Project’s exhibition, Our Families, Our Portraits. The Selection Committee included, the International Center of Photography, Queens Museum, and The New York Times Magazine. The project celebrates family, love and understanding in the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ)community. As the Asian Pride Project puts it so eloquently, “Family is not static; it is ever-evolving in the face of unpredicted revelation and change.”

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Our Portraits, Our Families

Presented by MOCA and The Asian Pride Project.

MOCATALKS: Join us for a behind-the-scenes conversation with the artists and their families. June 19th, 2014 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm


On view from June 13th, 2014 to July 13th, 2014.

  1. Camera: Nikon D800
  2. Aperture: f/4
  3. Exposure: 1/200th
  4. Focal Length: 29mm


Marcella B. Chin Dear is a native daughter of Manhattan’s Chinatown as she was born and bred in New York City. The Chin family’s businesses including the restaurant Rice Bowl, Rice Bowl Realty, Cathay Hardware, Walter’s Sandwich Shop on Mulberry and Marcella B. Chin Dear’s brother Dr. Newton Chin’s ophthalmology practice were all well-known in the community. The Chins of Mott and Mulberry Streets have touched many individual lives through their various businesses and professions. Marcella played an important role in working and shaping all these entities as she always maintained that “she was happy to help out her family.”

Mrs. Chin Dear attended P.S. 23 in Chinatown, New York and the Pui Ying School in Guangzhou, China. She graduated from Washington Irving High School and attended New York University’s School of Commerce where she was the only female majoring in International Trade studies. She met her husband Walter Dear at the legendary Lonnie’s Coffee Shop and they lived in the community throughout their marriage.

Both longtime supporters of MOCA since its beginning as the Chinatown History Project, Marcella and Walter Dear decided to donate their personal family archive of articles, signage and photographs which is the largest individual contribution to MOCA’s permanent collection. Marcella’s energy and enthusiasm for the preservation of the Chinatown community’s rich history serves as an inspiration to many. Marcella B. Chin Dear is an honoree of MOCA’s Third Annual Celebration of Community Heroes. This year, Marcella B. Chin Dear is 89 years old and she is an active member of the Chinatown community.

A Collective History: The Marcella Chin Dear Collection

The staff’s archival gloves left imprints of white on the otherwise dusty surfaces of the large, ceramic vessels they were lifting. The vessels, three feet high by one and a half feet in diameter formally used to store dried goods, were much lighter than they seemed. Almost instinctively, the staff formed a chain line, passing the containers from one to another up three flights of stairs until they had removed all of them. After over a week of this routine – carrying, photographing, cataloging, and packing over 1,000 items – the staff was almost finished accessioning one of the most fascinating and complete collections ever donated to the Museum, in 2006.


A Welcome to USA Citizenship Booklet, On the occasion of Chin Suey Bing’s naturalization, 1953, Courtesy of Dear Marcella, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection.

While Chinatown has been home to numerous immigrant groups that have since moved out of New York or to the suburbs of other boroughs, the Chin family have remained in the neighborhood for five generations straight. Marcella’s grandfather first arrived in New York in the late 1800s, settling in Chinatown and working as a laundryman. Before resettling in Hong Kong, he sent for his 19-year old son, Chin Suey Bing. Living most of his adult life apart from his immediate family, Suey Bing relied on the support of the Chin Family Association and other business networks. He would later establish himself as a community leader and successful local businesses, whose enterprises located mostly along Mott Street, included an import-export company, hardware store, liquor store, and the famed Rice Bowl restaurant. Suey Bing’s other roles were as husband and father. He married Tsui Chun Guey in China, returning with her to the United States and raising a family of six children.


A photograph of the Chin family taken circa 1955. Marcella is seated on the far right.

The family kept close ties with Asia and the Chin children were sent to China for their early schooling at Guangdong’s prestigious Pui Ching boarding school. However, with the advent of World War II, the Chin family resettled in Chinatown. In 1945, they moved into the Mulberry Street apartment which held invaluable reminders of the family’s incredible story – now part of MOCA’s permanent collection.


Shanghai Pathe Record - The Phantom Lover Disc 1, Courtesy of Marcella Dear, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection

The objects reconstruct the daily domestic and business activities of the family and their connection to both Chinese and American cultures. Dozens of textiles, hundreds of imported books, old vinyl records, posters, game sets, instruments, family photographs, store signs, ceramics, and furniture were all treasures capturing one Chinese family’s life in America.


Rice Bowl Restaurant Postcard (Interior), Courtesy of Dear Marcella, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection

Many of these items come from the family’s businesses, including a large selection from their Rice Bowl restaurant. Considered one of the fanciest restaurants in Chinatown during its operation from 1939 through 1970, the Rice Bowl required men to wear a jacket and tie for meals and was one of the first banquet halls in the neighborhood to have air conditioning. The restaurant attracted everyone from locals to celebrities like silent-film star Mae Murray and Alan Alda.  


Print Block, Rice Bowl Restaurant, Chinatown, Courtesy of Dear Marcella, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection 

The objects are invaluable in illustrating the moments from the Chinese community in America’s past through the story of the Chin family from late 1800s to late 1970s. Paired with Marcella B. Chin Dear’s oral narratives and taped interviews, the Marcella Chin Dear Collection is rich in depth and diversity. It offers a glimpse into the cultural life of Chinatown and what it took for a Chinese family to build a life in America.

This spring, Museum of Chinese in America will present a contemporary Chinese ink exhibit featuring the works of Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu. Stay tuned for updates!

In the latest MOCATALKS panel, Shanghai Glamour: Fashioning New Women, the Museum of Chinese in America brought together Shanghai Glamour guest curator Mei Mei Rado, Barnard Professor Dorothy Ko, and fashion designers Peggy Tan (Mandarin and General) and Priscilla Shunmugam (Ong Shunmugam) for a stimulating discussion on the history and modern day appropriation of the cheongsam.

The cheongsam, often referred to as the qipao or mandarin gown, played a pivotal role in shaping the female body and identity in Shanghai at the turn of the twentieth century. Mei Mei Rado kicked off the conversation by giving the audience a brief history of the iconic dress, which was first conceived in the 1920s. According to Rado, the cheongsam was loose and straight in its earliest form in order to mask the wearer’s body. It wasn’t until the mid-1930s that the dress took on the tight, body-hugging style that we recognize today in fashion and popular culture.

Yet, a significant part of the cheongsam’s evolution was its popularity among wealthy women and upper class courtesans in 1920s Shanghai. This new, fashion-conscious group of women made the cheongsam fashionable, and soon, others started following the trend, which was featured in the popular women’s journals of the time.

Throughout the years, the cheongsam has gone through many changes in form, but it has remained a potent symbol of femininity and modernity, as reflected by the designs of Peggy Tan and Priscilla Shunmugam. For instance, Tan brings the knowledge that she learned from spending a summer in Taiwan with a famous cheongsam master team into her designs. Her label, Mandarin & General, aims to celebrate her roots by utilizing traditional Chinese garment making principles in a modern context. Similarly, Shunmugam reworks these cultural influences into her own label, Ong Shunmugam, by weaving traditional textile techniques, colors and silhouettes into her work. During the talk, Tan and Shunmugam sported their own designs. Tan wore a loose-fitting cheongsam fashioned out of chambray fabric, while Shunmugam wore a sleeveless version with a circle skirt.Through their labels, these up-and-coming designers hope to integrate the cheongsam into the everyday wardrobe.


Following the success of our first summer DIY Day, MOCA held a second workshop for teens that proved just as fun and creative! This most recent workshop was led by New York-based fashion blogger Lesley Ware (the founder of The Creative Cookie). Lesley brought her creative spirit and led participants in making innovative, upcycled accessories. Participating teens used a variety of materials ranging from industrial hardware to fabrics, lace, and Swarovski Elements. Again, a big thanks to Swarovski for hooking us up with glamorous crystals to craft with. 


First, our lovely participants were given an interactive tour of the museum’s two fashion focused exhibits: Front Row and Shanghai Glamour


Next, they wasted no time in getting crafty with all the fun materials. Check out their “brilliant” creations below!



Who would have thought that these industrial materials could be re-purposed to make such elegant pieces?


We just love this combination of pretty oceanic colors and delicate lace juxtaposed with the boldness of washers and safety pins. 



A little sparkle…and A LOT of pizazz.


This chunky, textured bow and shimmery icicle crystal necklace are both fabulous statement pieces for any outfit.

Stay tuned for more DIY from MOCA. Our Front Row and Shanghai Glamour exhibitions are the perfect inspiration for your own DIY projects. Check them out until September 29th, 2013 and share your creations with us!

imageAnna Sui in conversation with MOCA for our fashion exhibition, Front Row. Don’t miss a chance to see the exhibit shocasing  designs by Anna Sui, along with other amazing Asian American designers in the industry! For more information check out our website.



MOCA launched its 1st ever Summer DIY Day last Saturday, July 13th, 2013, and what a blast it was! After mining special exhibition Front Row:Chinese American Designers for inspiration, expert DIYer and fashion Blogger, Amanda Kocis (aka HocusKocis), led teens (and adults alike) in the creation of their own original accessories. A big thanks to Swarovski Elements for providing us with the crystals to make this session extra-glitzy. Check out this look book of their stunning creations below!              



                       Getting crafty with leather, studs, and denim.



Bracelets, Collars and Rings… we had everything scream “BLING BLING!”


Everyone got to take home their wearable works of art!


Look at these participants in action.


MOCA’s Summer DIY Day series continues with a second accessory making workshop for teens featuring Lesley Ware (aka The Creative Cookie) on July 27th, 2013!  See you there. For more information click here:

Sign up for this event by emailing: or call 212.619.4785 x4150