Film: The Search for General Tso
August 23, 2018
August screenings in the Bank of America Free Thursday Film Series conclude Becoming American: A Documentary Film and Discussion Series on our Immigration Experience. This six-week series is a project of City Lore, a cultural center for the arts and humanities based in New York City. It is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of NEH’s Community Conversations initiative, and features documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions designed to encourage an informed discussion of immigration issues against the backdrop of our immigration history.
The National Hispanic Cultural Center is one of 24 organizations selected nationwide to participate in the Becoming American project. The scholar/moderator for the screenings and discussions at the Center is Dr. Gabriel Sanchez, Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico. The theme for Unit Six, presented on August 23, is “Immigration and Popular Culture.”
As much an immigration history as a culinary detective story, this ebullient documentary uses the ubiquitous Americanized dish, General Tso’s Chicken, as a lens onto a larger story of immigration, adaptation, and innovation to American popular culture. Early on, the film poses the question, “If Chinese Americans comprise only 1% of the U.S. population, why are there Chinese restaurants in almost every city across America?” The filmmakers seek the answer in a journey through the Chinese American experience from the Gold Rush and the building of the railroads to the age of Panda Express. On-air historians, chefs, writers, and enthusiasts provide accounts of the history of Chinese migration to America; the discriminatory 1880s Chinese Exclusion Act that forced emigrants out of the labor market and into small business ownership; the modification of “exotic” Chinese cuisine for American tastes; and the role of Chinese American community organizations in the dissemination of restaurants to the far corners of the nation to avoid competition and discrimination on the West Coast.
2014; Ian Cheney; English; 57 minutes; not rated.
Free ticketed event; tickets available one hour before show