2013 Florida Film Festival

Orlando Weekly | April 10, 2013
Since frontier times, desperate American men have turned to mail-order bride services in hopes of finding love. The majority of women listed in these services today are either Asian or Eastern European. As a Chinese-American, documentarian Debbie Lum had always been curious as to why certain Western men are so enamored with Asian women, so she decided to search for the answer.

Lum contacted several men who posted on dating sites that were exclusively seeking Asian women. After interviewing Steven Bolstad, a twice-divorced sexagenarian, she knew she’d found the perfect subject for her documentary. When we first meet Bolstad onscreen, he’s making racial comments about Asian eyes. He then proceeds to reminisce about a Vietnamese film that he once saw, The Scent of Green Papaya, which featured what he referred to as an “idyllic servant girl.” He then muses on the possibility of finding a mate like the girl in the film. He comes off as a man that would make women uncomfortable. Even Debbie confesses that she felt uncomfortable with him in the beginning.

Nevertheless, after corresponding with hundreds of Asian women over the course of five years, Bolstad finds one who agrees to marry him. Sandy, 30, is a Chinese national who entered the U.S. on a K-1 fiancée visa. If she doesn’t marry within three months she must return to China. Surprisingly, Sandy doesn’t appear to have any ulterior motives and genuinely seems to be interested in Bolstad. However, when the relationship turns tumultuous, the couple seeks Debbie’s counsel, as she is the only person they know who can speak both English and Mandarin. As Debbie is dragged into her own documentary, she begins to question her ethics, adding a compelling new layer to an already fascinating and often unsettling film.

Orlando Weekly

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