The experience of seeing “No Asians” on an online dating or hookup profile may be commonplace among gay Asian men, but Project Gelb (gelb means yellow in German) delves into the implications of that too-casually-used statement.
Canadian filmmaker Francis Luta assembles a number of articulate—and sometimes humorous—Asian interviewees (primarily East Asian but with one South Asian man) for this insightful documentary that may be especially eye-opening to those who haven't explored the subject before.
Each of the talking heads share their perspectives on dating and attraction in relation to their racial identities. Some relate experiences of racism and being stereotyped. Others talk about their own self-hatred and self-censorship as they strove to fit in or aspired to standards based on white people. What's key here is that almost all of them are introspective and therefore able to question themselves, such as coming to the realization that they needed to challenge their attraction to only white men.
Everything you wanted to ask—but didn't know who to ask—is in here: historical shifts in concepts of beauty, racial hierarchies of attractiveness, systems of power and control, and images (and images that are underrepresented) in media. And, of course, Bruce Lee's there, too.
However, while the focus is on the exclusion of Asian gay men, the flipside phenomenon of rice queens, or gay men who fetishize Asian men, could use more investigation.
Interspersed with animated and performance segments to illustrate concepts, the well-paced film manages to strike an intelligent tone while remaining relatable and personable.
What’s unfortunate is that the people who truly need to see this documentary probably won’t. However, what the film does do is offer viewers the chance to consider possibilities for making change both within and without.
Project Gelb will screen at the 2017 Vancouver Queer Film Festival at 7:30 p.m. on Friday (August 18) at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Filmmaker Francis Luta will participate in a post-screening discussion to be moderated by the Georgia Straight’s Craig Takeuchi.