Tyrus: The Documentary
Set against a backdrop of immigration, poverty, and racial prejudice, Tyrus is the true story of 105-year old pioneering Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong, revealed through the lens of filmmaker Pamela Tom. Reaching back to 1919, nine-year-old Tyrus and his father left their village and family in China. Tyrus' incredible journey takes him from the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco where he is detained and interrogated, to earning a scholarship to Otis Art Institute. During his 85-year career as a fine and commercial artist, Tyrus crosses paths with the likes of Picasso and Matisse and Walt Disney and Warner Bros. along the way. Although his design work was crucial to the animated classic Bambi and over 100 live action movies including The Music Man, Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild Bunch, the name Tyrus Wong remains largely unknown – until now. Tyrusʼs life weaves an extraordinary thread in the tapestry of the American experience.
Tyrus is the first in-depth portrait of the art, life, and enduring impact of Tyrus Wong. The film takes the audience on a remarkable journey – from Wong’s birthplace of Guangzhou, China, in 1910, to the boarding houses of LA’s old Chinatown and the studios of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The film explores his formative years as a young WPA artist and the influence of Sung Dynasty art on his work. Until his death in December 2016 at the age of 106, Wong continued to live the life of an artist. The film captures him, still vibrant, flying his magnificent creations high above the Pacific Ocean – the same waters he crossed as a young boy over 95 years ago.
Tyrus includes original interviews of Tyrus Wong, guest interviews, archival footage and photos, clips, and concept artwork – much of it rare and never before seen. Tyrus captures the richness and texture of Wong’s career while also revealing the inner life and character of this rare individual.
About the Speaker
Dorothea Hoffman is a retired Professor of East Asian History at Appalachian State University where she worked for 25 years. Born in High Point, NC, she went East by going West for her studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of New Orleans and then a Master of Arts in Third World Studies with a focus on China at the University of California-San Diego. Her Ph.D. in Modern Chinese History comes from the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Her recent research interest is on Chinese migration to Latin America, where many Chinese ended up after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1861.
Movies at the Museum is sponsored by Bistro Roca.
Photo Credit: Pamela & Tyrus. Photo by Ildiko Laszlo