Washington, D.C. (December 13, 2017) The National Association of Asian American Professionals, D.C. Chapter (NAAAP DC) is deeply disappointed that the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, Virginia, is featuring Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) in its Fearless Femmes in Film celebration. In this film, Mickey Rooney, an actor of Scottish-American descent, dons yellowface, bottleneck glasses, and false buck teeth in an offensive caricature of Asian men.
Minority film leads are underrepresented by a factor of more than 3 to 1 and whitewashing is still prevalent today. Dedicated to promoting independent and foreign film, it is unacceptable that the Angelika Film Center would perpetuate the misrepresentation of minorities in film.
“Though the film was created at time when ‘whitewashing’ of Asian/Asian American characters were accepted within the industry, the Angelika should have taken a more intelligent look at the films they wanted to represent ‘progressive feminism.’ There could have been better film choices. We live in a world where stereotypes and racism are still prevalent. As a film festival director, be smart with your choices and make sure to provide a disclaimer of what you are showing. Educating versus showcasing are two different things” says Christian Oh, Executive Director of D.C. Asian Pacific American Film, Inc. and former founder of NAAAP DC.
“NAAAP DC is dedicated to promoting leadership and diversity,” says Ryan Namata, president of NAAAP DC. “We encourage the Angelika Film Center and other arthouses to be cognizant of minority representation, and we welcome an open dialogue to ensure culturally sensitive programming relevant to the diverse audiences of 2017.”