A Vancouver conference on the future of racialized storytelling will include a discussion about Bruce Lee’s Hollywood legacy. Shannon Lee, chair of the Bruce Lee Foundation, will deliver a keynote address on this topic at EXNW (East by Northwest).
Lee is the U.S.-born daughter of the legendary kung-fu master, who became a pop-culture icon. She’s also CEO and owner of the Bruce Lee Family Companies, as well as the creator of Camp Bruce Lee and host of the Bruce Lee Podcast.
In addition, Lee is executive producer of the TV show Warrior, which streams on Max. She will speak at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (July 29) at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver.
The Vancouver-based Racial Equity Screen Office created EXNW with the goal of elevating and empowering racialized creatives involved in film, TV, streaming, gaming, and animation.
“Many of us have deep roots that grow between continents creating unique identities and stories that need to be acknowledged, elevated and celebrated,” RESO founder Barbara Lee says on the EXNW website. “We feel at home everywhere, anywhere, and nowhere, constantly questioning—and being questioned on—what it means to belong.”
EXNW keynote speaker blasted Tarantino
In 2021, Shannon Lee attracted a great deal of attention with a commentary in The Hollywood Reporter. It concerned comments that director Quentin Tarantino had made about her father to podcaster Joe Rogan.
At the time, Tarantino was promoting his film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It showed Lee’s father, played by Mike Moh, being knocked down by another character played by Brad Pitt. Lee maintained that the film’s portrayal of her dad was “inaccurate and unnecessary, to say the least”.
Moreover, Lee declared in the commentary that she was “really fucking tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was”.
“I’m tired of hearing from white men in Hollywood that he was arrogant and an asshole when they have no idea and cannot fathom what it might have taken to get work in 1960s and ’70s Hollywood as a Chinese man with (God forbid) an accent, or to try to express an opinion on a set as a perceived foreigner and person of color,” Lee continued. “I’m tired of white men in Hollywood mistaking his confidence, passion and skill for hubris and therefore finding it necessary to marginalize him and his contributions.”
She then added that she’s “tired of white men in Hollywood finding it too challenging to believe that Bruce Lee might have really been good at what he did and maybe even knew how to do it better than them”.
Watch the trailer for Season 3 of Max.
EXNW empowers creatives
On Friday (July 28), EXNW begins with a tour of various studios in Metro Vancouver. The opening-day schedule includes opportunities to make pitches over lunch and dinner.
Another keynote speaker is Gold House co-founder, executive director, and chief operating officer Jeremy Tran. His Los Angeles-based organization describes itself as “the premier nonprofit collective of Asian founders, creative voices, and leaders dedicated to unifying the world’s largest populace—Asians and Pacific Islanders—to enable more authentic multicultural representation and societal equity”.
Tran will speak at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Later that morning, Little Mosque on the Prairie creator Zarqa Nawaz and Inspirit Foundation program manager Angie Balata will discuss protecting IP for IBPOC creators.
There will also be a Saturday panel discussion on documentaries with B.C.-based filmmakers Baljit Sangra, Priyanka Desai, Thea Loo, and Kent Donguines.
Later that day, World Trade Centre Vancouver executive director Joyce Tang will talk about exporting diverse stories to a global market. After that, the conference will host a session on making Vancouver a key player for global film and TV.
Meanwhile on Sunday (July 30) at Floata Seafood Restaurant, Farpoint Technologies CEO Nicholas Ning will speak about the future of AI and entertainment. After lunch at the same location, the events company Ricecake will present a drag show with several House of Rice members. Another member of the House of Rice, DJ Bella Sie, will provide musical entertainment.