Facing the absence of their historical artifact, many silent film historians turn to “new film history,” trading textual analysis for thick contextualization to underscore the complex economic, social, and cultural processes that constituted early cinema and film culture in everyday life. Such is the case with Kim K. Fahlstedt’s theoretically engaging and richly sourced “micro” history of film exhibition, Chinatown Film Culture: The Appearance of Cinema in San Francisco’s Chinese Neighborhood. Focusing on post-quake San Francisco (1906–1915), Fahlstedt shows how “local film exhibition was influenced by and appropriated for Chinese American patrons, while also functioning as fertile soil for a strong brand of Orientalism” that came to centrally define Asian otherness during the Classical Hollywood era (3, emphasis mine). Theater owners’ routine use of a “Chinesque aesthetic” in marketing to middle-class Chinatown tourism was but one case in the systematic marginalization experienced by Chinese residents. At the same time,...

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