Synopsis by Mark Deming
Grace Lee is a filmmaker who, when she left her hometown of Columbia, MO, for New York City, and later for California, began to notice that her name was unusually common among Asian-American women -- someone described as the Asian-American equivalent of "Jane Smith." What troubled Lee most wasn't just that so many Asian women shared her name, but that it seemed to conjure up a very particular sort of person in the eyes of many -- a quiet, studious over-achiever who was cheerful, Christian, and never got into trouble. Lee didn't much care to be associated with a classic stereotype of an "ethnic American" desperate to assimilate with the larger culture, and she began to wonder -- is every Grace Lee like this? Lee set up a website to search out other Grace Lee's around the country, and followed up her research with a series of interviews that she fashioned into her film The Grace Lee Project. While Lee found plenty of women who lived up to the "Grace Lee" image, she also found many who didn't, including an elderly activist in Detroit's African-American community, a teenage goth kid who makes voodoo dolls for fun and profit, a fortysomething single parent who helped her best friend leave behind an abusive husband, a Hawaiian broadcast journalist, and a young troublemaker who attempted to burn down her high school. Incidentally, the Grace Lee who made The Grace Lee Project learned she wasn't the only Grace Lee who directs movies -- a Grace Lee living in Portland, OR, is also a filmmaker.
Asian-American, community, cultural-identity, diversity, exploration, self-identity, survey, woman