Arthur Dong

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Arthur Dong
Native name Chinese: 曾奕田
Born San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Alma mater San Francisco State University
Occupation Filmmaker, Author, Curator, Professor

Arthur Dong is an Oscar® nominated filmmaker and award-winning author whose work centers on Asia America and anti-gay prejudice. He received a BA (in film) from San Francisco State University and a Directing Fellow Certificate at the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies. In 2007, SFSU named Dong its Alumnus of the year “for his continued success in the challenging arena of independent documentary filmmaking and his longstanding commitment to social justice."[1]

Dong is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences where he served on the Board of Governors from 2002-2006 (Documentary Branch). He is also a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and has served on the boards of Film Independent (formerly IFP/West), the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress, and Outfest. At the Academy, he was among the original architects that advocated for and founded the Academy's Documentary Branch in 2001; he was also a decade-long member of the organization's Documentary Executive Committee that helped to shape the new branch. During his tenure at the National Film Preservation Board, he successfully nominated and lobbied for the selection of two seminal Chinese American films into the National Film Registry: Flower Drum Song (1961) and The Curse of Quon Gwon (1916), the earliest known film produced and directed by an Asian American that Mr. Dong helped re-discover while researching for his Hollywood Chinese documentary.


In 1982, Dong founded DeepFocus Productions, Inc, where he continues to serve as producer, director, writer, and distributor. He received a nomination for an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject in 1984 for Sewing Woman, a film about his mother's immigration from China to America; a Peabody Award in 1995 for Coming Out Under Fire, which documented the US military's WW2 policy on gays in the military; and two Sundance Film Festival Awards for his profile of convicted murderers who killed gay men, Licensed to Kill. Other honors include five Emmy nominations, the Berlin Film Festival's Teddy Award, the Golden Horse Award from Taiwan, as well as being selected a Sundance Documentary Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow in Film, and a Rockefeller Fellow in Media Arts.

For television, Dong was an associate producer for KGO-TV in San Francisco from 1981 to 1982 and a producer at KCET in Los Angeles from 1991 to 1992 (producing for Life & Times). For ITVS, he produced and directed Out Rage '69, which chronicled the Stonewall Riots and premiered the PBS series on LBGT rights, The Question of Equality. His 1989 film on Chinatown nightclubs Forbidden City, USA was broadcast on the American Experience series, and his 2007 documentary on the history of the Chinese in American feature films Hollywood Chinese was broadcast on the series American Masters,[2] which won the Emmy that year for outstanding non-fiction series. His latest film The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, about the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge, was the premiere episode of the PBS/World Channel series DocWorld.

Career retrospectives of Dong's films have been presented at the Hawaii International Film Festival, the Human Rights International Film Festival in Warsaw Poland, the Walker Art Center, and in Taiwan: the Golden Horse Film Festival and the CNEX Documentary Film Festival. In 2015, he was the Spotlight filmmaker and artist at CAAMFest[3], the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and the New York Asian American Film Festival[4].

Dong has served as curator for the exhibits Chop Suey on Wax: The Flower Drum Song Album at the Chinese Historical Society Museum in San Francisco; Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles; and Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs at the San Francisco Public Library. The latter has been commissioned to be re-mounted and expanded at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles for 2019.

Dong has taught documentary film at Sundance's Documentary Workshops in Beijing, the Sundance Music and Sound Design Labs at Skywalker, UC Santa Barbara, Emory University, University of Texas, University of Hawai'i, and the CNEX Chinese Doc Academy in Taipei. He also served as Distinguished Professor in Film at Loyola Marymount University where he designed MFA and certificate documentary programs.



Dong is the author of Forbidden City, USA: Chinatown Nightclubs, 1936-1970 (2014), which received the American Book Award[5], the Independent Publisher's IPPY Award[6], and the Preservation Award from the Art Deco Society of California[7]. He is currently writing an upcoming book tentatively titled The Hollywood Chinese Album.

Community honors[edit]


  1. ^ "SF State News". Retrieved 2018-03-07. 
  2. ^ PBS: American Masters, Tonight on PBS: 'Hollywood Chinese', May 27, 2009
  3. ^ "Spotlight on Arthur Dong: 40 years of Social Issues Filmmaking – CAAM Home". Retrieved 2018-03-07. 
  4. ^ "Why Arthur Dong Still Matters? - Asian CineVision". Asian CineVision. 2015-12-18. Retrieved 2018-03-07. 
  5. ^ "2015 American Book Awards | Before Columbus Foundation". Retrieved 2018-03-07. 
  6. ^ "2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards Regional & Ebook Results". Independent Publisher - feature. Retrieved 2018-03-07. 
  7. ^ "Preservation Awards". Art Deco Society of California. Retrieved 2018-03-07. 
  8. ^ 12th Annual Historymakers Awards Archived February 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.

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