Sessue Hayakawa (1886–1973) has long been an elusive figure in the history of silent film, despite being as renowned in his day as Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks. Following his phenomenal success in Cecil B. DeMille's The Cheat (1915), the Jesse L. Lasky Company sought to shape Hayakawa's image by emphasizing the actor's “Japanese” traits while portraying him as safely assimilated into U.S. culture. Hayakawa himself was dissatisfied with his stereotyped roles, and established his own production company, Haworth Pictures, in 1918. Not only a Hollywood phenomenon, Hayakawa won popularity and praise abroad, from filmmakers including Sergei Eisenstein and from French intellectuals, who responded to his acting with a new theory of photogenie. Addressing the complex cultural contexts of Hayakawa's career, Daisuke Miyao, assistant professor of Japanese film at the University of Oregon and the author of Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom, will introduce screenings of three key works, two of which have not been shown previously at PFA.
Of related interest: Border Crossings: Rethinking Silent Cinema, February 9 and 10 in the Nestrick Room, 142 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley. Daisuke Miyao will be among the speakers at this conference that considers how early cinema moves across national boundaries, initiating cultural traffic that re-envisions race, gender, nation, empire, and cinema itself. For information, visit http://filmstudies.berkeley.edu/bordercrossings/.