Northeastern University and Boston Asian American Film Festival celebrate National Silent Movie Day and the upcoming 15th Boston Asian American Film Festival with a festival preview, screening of Oath of the Sword (1914) and panel conversation.
The Oath of the Sword was produced in 1914 by a company described by Moving Picture World as the “first company in America to be owned, controlled and operated by Japanese.” Based in Los Angeles, the Japanese American Film Company was among several similar independent film companies established by Japanese during a period when the American film industry had yet to become Hollywood as we know it. The Oath of the Sword is the earliest known Asian American film production and illuminates a largely unknown chapter in American film history.
Join us for the East Coast premiere of this recently REDISCOVERED & RESTORED silent film treasure. Musical score arranged from period photoplay music, with additional original material, by Allen Feinstein. Orchestration for theatre orchestra by Allen Feinstein, Ben Green, and Jasmine Bryant.
Panel discussion with Denise Khor, Arthur Dong, and Allen Feinstein, moderated by Susan Chinsen.
This event is free and open to the public.
Film still courtesy George Eastman Museum. Restored by the Japanese American National Museum and George Eastman Museum. Funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation. The digital restoration from a 35mm nitrate print and 35mm safety negative from the George Eastman Museum collection was completed at Eastman Museum Film Preservation Services and Colorlab.
DIRECTED BY: Frank Shaw. WITH: Tomi Morri, Miss Hisa Numa, Yutaka Abe. 1914. 31 min. USA. Tinted, B&W. Silent. English intertitles.
Title Graphic from Motion Picture Magazine, January 1915.
Denise Khor is associate professor of Asian American studies and Visual Studies at Northeastern University where she also directs the Asian American studies program. She is the author of Transpacific Convergences: Race, Migration and Japanese AmericanFilm Culture before WorldWar II(University of North Carolina Press, 2022)which explores the historical experiences ofJapanese Americans at the cinema and an alternative network of film production, circulation, and exhibition. Her work has appeared inFilm Quarterly,Pacific Historical Review, Southern California Quarterly, andThe Rising Tide of Color: Race, State Violence, and Radical Movements Across the Pacific(edited by Moon Ho-Jung, 2014), among other publications.In2019-2020, she was faculty fellow at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies inAmerican History.
Allen Feinstein is a composer of concert works, musical theatre, and film music, and is Teaching Professor and Director of Bands at Northeastern University. His composition Fashion Goddess, a comic retelling of the Athena-Arachne myth written for musical theatre mezzo-soprano and band, received multiple co-premieres in 2022-23 by members of an American Composers Forum consortium.Feinstein’s euphonium concerto was recorded by Adam Frey and the New Zealand Symphony and won the International Tuba Euphonium Phillips Prize forCompositional Excellence in 2006.He conducted and orchestrated Lois Weber’sWhere Are My Children?(1916), and conducted and composed the score for D. W.Griffith’sVoice of the Violin(1909) for a DVD set produced by the National FilmPreservation Foundation, which was on “ten-best” lists ofTime,The New YorkTimes, andThe New Yorker.He has conducted orchestras to accompany several classic silent films, includingThe General,Phantom of the Opera, works byChaplin, and numerous student films.During the pandemic he guided the NU WindEnsemble through the creation of an original score to Buster Keaton’s silent classicOne Week, which is available on YouTube.
Arthur Dong’s film career is bolstered by multi-disciplinary achievements as an author, film scholar, and curator. His Oscar-and Emmy-nominated, and Peabody and triple Sundance award-winning films center Asian-American and LGBTQ stories, and include Coming Out Under Fire,Licensed to Kill,Forbidden City, USA, and The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor. During research for Hollywood Chinese, Arthur was led to surviving elements from the 1917film, The Curse of Quon Gwon, the earliest knownChinese American production, and brought the material to the Academy Film Archive for preservation. He then successfully lobbied for its placement onthe National Film Registry. Arthur’s publications include Forbidden City, USA: Chinatown Nightclubs, 1936-1970(AmericanBook Award), and Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films(Asian PacificAmerican Award in Literature).His curatorial commissions include the Boston Lyric Opera and the Chinese-American Museum, and for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures:“Hollywood Chinese:The First 100 Years”, a month-long program of 27 films. Among his past academic appointments are Distinguished Professor of Film at Loyola Marymount University. Arthur served on the boards of the Academy of MotionPicture Arts and Sciences, Film Independent,OutFest, and the National Film Preservation Board.He currently serves on the Academy’s History and Preservation Committee, and on theAcademy Museum’s Inclusion Advisory Committee. Arthur graduated from San Francisco State University and received their Alumnus of the Year Award“for his continued success in the challenging arena of independent documentary filmmaking and his longstanding commitment to social justice.
This event is hosted by the College of Arts, Media and Design Dean’s Office, in collaboration with the Department of Art + Design, the Department of Music, the Center for the Arts, the College of Social Sciences and Humanities Asian-American Studies Department, and the Boston Asian American Film Festival.