Synopsis: Part documentary, part fever dream, a wandering songstress discovers the unspoken onscreen and offscreen histories––and realities––of Los Angeles Chinatown as she sings a familiar movie tune to elder residents faced with a rapidly developing neighborhood. An ode to the resilience, joy, and voices of an often overlooked community that has provided an exotic backdrop for the Hollywood film industry for decades.
Street Angel is fueled by the complex and unspoken history of displacement and role-playing in Los Angeles Chinatown alongside a visual experiment in reclaiming agency in the Oriental female archetype, a trope of strange delight and exoticism for much of cinematic history. Rarely voiced histories of Chinatown’s past––both onscreen as a backdrop for Hollywood movies and offscreen as a home for the displaced––reveal the pride and resilience of a community looking to an uncertain future. The film captures a moment in time as the neighborhood changes, creating a way for us to remember the joy, ingenuity, and voices of the people who live behind the facade.
Michelle Sui is a Chinese-born, Los Angeles-raised multidisciplinary artist, performer, composer,
and director. She works at the cross-section of performance, music, dance, film, and new media. Her immersive multimedia works have been presented in Germany, Italy, the Republic of Georgia, and throughout the U.S. Her research and performance in women’s folk music traditions has taken her to Eastern Europe, China, and the Caucasus. She has recently performed at Museum of Contemporary Art, Hammer Museum, Marciano Art Foundation, Rubin Museum of Art, and Park Avenue Armory. She is the founder of Nü House, a digital platform that facilitates conversations across borders and connects diverse artists and communities in different cities worldwide.