Seeking Asian Female

Seeking Asian Female

About the Film

Steven is an aging white man obsessed with marrying an Asian woman, dreaming of a devoted young wife. Sandy is the young, feisty, ambitious Chinese woman he finds online. This engaging documentary follows their tumultuous love story. MORE

For years, twice-divorced airport garage attendant Steven has been writing to numerous women through an online dating site that specializes in connecting Western men with Asian women. At times, his pursuit seems like utter fantasy. He falls for a 24-year-old woman across the Pacific entirely through pictures and email. When she eventually breaks his heart, he meets another Chinese woman, 30-year-old Sandy. They become engaged, and she flies to San Francisco to marry him.

Steven and Sandy negotiate cross-cultural differences huddled around Google Translate as they try to communicate despite an enormous language barrier. While they attempt to work out the significant bumps in their relationship, filmmaker Debbie Lum finds herself becoming more than an outside observer: Steven and Sandy begin to rely heavily on Lum to bridge the large gap between their two disparate cultures.

“One day Steven calls me in desperation,” Lum says. “He and Sandy have had a huge fight. I rush over to film them — but quickly become enlisted as translator using the broken Mandarin I learned in college. Finding myself caught in the middle of their tumultuous lives, I begin to see their complicated relationship from many different angles.”

Sandy comes to realize that both Steven and life in America are not as ideal as she had expected. But as she confronts many of Steven’s bad habits, he begins to change. His obsession with many Asian women becomes a deep commitment to one — and he recognizes that in order to keep Sandy, he must learn how to be a caring, respectful, and culturally sensitive husband. Above all he must confront the reality of marriage — not to the sweet innocent girl he imagined, but to a demanding, strong-willed Asian woman.

Seeking Asian Female is a film about facing and unlearning stereotypes and the judgments that stem from them. “All three of us — Steven, Sandy and myself — changed the expectations that we held of each other before we met,” says Lum.


Film Credits

Produced, Directed, and Filmed by
Debbie Lum

Written and Edited by
Tina Nguyen
Amy Ferraris
Debbie Lum

Story Consultant
Spencer Nakasako

Original Music
Gordy Haab

Consulting Producers
S. Leo Chiang
Steven Okazaki
Stephanie Wang-Breal

Tina Nguyen
Ali Sargent
Cianna Stewart

Associate Producers
Christopher Guevarra
Alison Pezanoski-Browne

Sound Edit and Mix
Philip Perkins

Re-recording Mixer
Paul Zahnley, CAS

Online Editor
Robert O’Geen

Gary Coates
Robert O’Geen

Motion Graphics
Taku Hazeyama

Title Design
Michael Garber

Graphic Designer
H. T. Nguyen

Project Advisors
Julie Benello
Wendy Ettinger
Judith Helfand
Maikiko James
Corey Tong

Humanities Advisor
Sheridan Prasso
Dr. Benjamin R. Tong

Additional Camera
Raul Jocson
Mike Laan
Tin Yan Lee
Cianna Stewart

Assistant Editors
Christopher Guevarra
Amy Happ

Voice Coach
Vismaya Lhi

Production Assistant
Julia Lee
Ying Liu

Event Planner
HEARding Cats Collective

Publicity Photo
Susan Munroe

Sandra Contreras

Lee, Lawless & Blyth

Web Images from


"Boy Meets Girl"
Written and Performed by Jake Shimabukuru
Courtesy of 2011 Hitchhike Records

"Five Dollars Unleaded" (2010)
Written and Performed by Jake Shimabukuru
Courtesy of 2011 Hitchhike Records

Special Thanks
Jianhua “Sandy” Bolstad
Steven Bolstad
Jonathan and Nina Reid
Anna Lum and Rich O’Donnell

Charlie Dooley
Charlie Lin
Chelsea Walton
Chi-hui Yang
Chiharu and Justin Bolstad
Chris Metzler
Curtis Choy
Deann Borshay
Deb Summers
Elaine Kim
Grace Lee
J. Russo
Jeri Au
Jon and Kathie Lum
Jonathan Reich
Jonathan Wheeler
Kathy Huang
Laila and Amani Abou Zamzam
Lana Weinbach
Mahri Holt and Peter Rafanan
Mai Nguyen
Manda Liang
Mario Capitelli
Marla and Joe Bolstad
Matt Iribarne
Mercedes Coats
Michael Chin
Pat Kohn
Peter, Nani and Nico Schneider
Pop Up Magazine
Rachel Lum and Al Gasiewski
Renee Tajima-Pena
San Francisco State University Chinese Studies / SLI /Cinema Department
San Mateo Adult School
Sharon Lum and Ahmed Abou-Zamzam
St. Louis Chinese American News
Teatro Mistral
Teri Bolstad
Tom Edgar
Tory Z Starbuck and Venus Slick
Valerie Soe
Wayne and Janet Lassiter
Xiaofeng Jin
Your Asian Connection

Fiscal Sponsor

Director of Television Production for KQED
Sandy Schonning

Executive Producer for KQED
Louise Lo

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Funding Provided by
Cal Humanities
Chicken & Egg Pictures
Joyce Tseng
Kenneth S. and Nancy Kranzberg
Wing Tek and Chee Ping Lum
Women in Film Foundation Film Finishing Fund
Franklin Ching and Charlie Kearns
David and Natalie Bydeley
Roland Wong
John Schuett and Shirley Marsh
Angela Wu
Brian Gilman
Tan Tek and Wai Ling Lum
And others. A complete list available from PBS.

Seeking Asian Female is a co-production of Debbie Lum LLC,
the Independent Television Service (ITVS), and KQED Public Television,
and a co-presentation of Center for Asian American Media,
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Seeking Asian Female is produced by Debbie Lum LLC,
which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2012 Debbie Lum LLC, All rights reserved.

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