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What’s Wrong with Frank Chin?

A major Asian-American figure since the late '60s, author-activist Frank Chin remains a divisive if often overlooked player -- partly because he's as aggressively non-p.c. in his opinions as ever. Curtis Choy's "What's Wrong With Frank Chin?" is an entertaining portrait that strongly suggests Chin merits greater appreciation in literary, minority history and academic circles.

With:
With: Frank Chin, Frank Abe, Janis Chan, Jeffery Chan, King-Kok Cheung, Lawson Inada, Elaine Kim, Alan Lau, Mako, Spencer Nakasako, Ishmael Reed, George Takei, Shawn Wong, Jessica Yu.

A major Asian-American figure since the late ’60s, author-activist Frank Chin remains a divisive if often overlooked player — partly because he’s as aggressively non-p.c. in his opinions as ever. Curtis Choy’s “What’s Wrong With Frank Chin?” is an entertaining portrait that strongly suggests Chin merits greater appreciation in literary, minority history and academic circles. But docu’s also a somewhat rambling, under-structured work that could use more editorial input before reaching broadcast and educational programmers.

An angry young man (now a cranky older one), Chin played numerous extraordinary, pioneering roles during the Asian community’s activist awakening of the ’70s. He recorded elders’ oral histories, founded (then was ousted from) San Francisco’s seminal Asian-American Theatre Workshop, edited landmark literary anthology “Aiiieeeee!”, wrote novels, plays and nonfiction tomes. He even helped pilot the late ’70s reparation drive for Japanese-Americans interned during WWII (though he’s Chinese-American himself). But these accomplishments have been obscured in the shadow of his bridge-burning tendencies toward “autocratic” leadership, his picking fights with fellow writers (notably a long-running feud with Maxine Hong Kingston) and other contretemps. Tech package is fair.

What's Wrong with Frank Chin?

Production: A Chonk Moonhunter production. Produced, directed, edited by Curtis Choy.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, DV), Choy; music, Mark Izu, Les Choy. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, March 20, 2005. (In San Francisco Asian American Film Festival.) Running time: 97 MIN.

With: With: Frank Chin, Frank Abe, Janis Chan, Jeffery Chan, King-Kok Cheung, Lawson Inada, Elaine Kim, Alan Lau, Mako, Spencer Nakasako, Ishmael Reed, George Takei, Shawn Wong, Jessica Yu.

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