• film

10th Annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

The Dragon Painter

Ticket includes complimentary admission to Opening Night Reception following the film. 

Released in 1919 by Haworth Pictures, a Hollywood production company founded by Japanese immigrant actor Sessue Hayakawa, The Dragon Painter is a fantasy-allegory of love and creative inspiration. Shot on location at Yosemite Valley, Hayakawa portrays a reclusive but talented painter who believes a dragon stole his princess fiancee. After meeting the daughter of a famous painter whom he mistakes for his love (played by his wife, Tsuru Aoki), his art begins to suffer.


Hayakawa was perhaps the first male sex symbol in Hollywood, and enjoyed great popularity throughout the silent film era. By producing this film, Hayakawa hoped to provide an authentic perspective of Japanese culture to American audiences, avoiding the stereotyping, violence, and melodramatic conflict expected in “Oriental” films of the period. For these reasons this production can arguably be considered the first ever Asian American film.

As a special presentation at PAAFF’17, we have commissioned a new original score that will be performed live by actor/composer Goh Nakamura (Surrogate Valentine, Daylight Savings).