According to Peter Feng, Asian American filmmakers are not actually perceived as real filmmakers. They cannot distinctly express their stories in the mainstream. Those who “succeed” to showcase their work as filmmakers beyond the underground, subcultural, and private living room screening and exhibition spaces do so by completely adopting the narratives and language of the commercial film industry. Feng argues:
Asian Americans are not filmmakers: we produce guerrilla video, autoethnography, and autobiographical essay. Each of these labels inserts a movie into a different historical tradition: guerrilla video posits community-based activism; autoethnography suggests efforts to put cameras in the hands of representative minorities; and autobiographical essay evokes a history of video art and avant-garde filmmaking (artistic media that have traditionally accepted women, queers, and other cultural exiles, especially if their work is first and foremost about life on the margins). These different historical traditions are in a sense different notions of reality, or rather, different notions of the relationship of art to reality (Feng 14).
This begs the question, is it necessary for stories of the Asian American stories to be revealed in the mainstream to the masses? Is it the purpose of a new alternative Asian American film and video practice to compete evenly with the commercial media industry? Is this even possible without being co-opted? This practice would situate Asian American artists and media makers outside of the framework of Third Cinema and its legacy.
From Identities in Motion: Asian American Film and Video by Peter X Feng