Arthur Dong
2015 Icon


“If I can encourage adjustments or a wider sphere of thoughts or questioning, then I will feel that I’ve done something.”

Arthur Dong is an Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker best known for chronicling Asian-American history and LGBT life. He earned an Oscar nomination in 1984 for “Sewing Woman,” about his mother’s immigration to America from China, which he produced as film student at San Francisco State University. As a result of the film’s success, he founded DeepFocus Productions to produce, direct and write projects close to his heart.

“Stories from the War on Homosexuality” (2005), Dong’s first DVD collection, features a trilogy of films focused on gay issues, including “Coming Out Under Fire” (1994), his Peabody Award-winning documentary about World War II policies impacting gay and lesbian service members; “Licensed to Kill” (1997), a study of convicted murderers of gay men; and “Family Fundamentals” (2002), a look at conservative Christian families with gay children.

Dong’s 2007 documentary “Hollywood Chinese” was featured on the PBS series “American Masters” in 2009. The film is included in his second DVD collection, “Stories from Chinese America,” which was released in 2010.

In the early 1990s, Dong produced 13 documentaries for Los Angeles' KCET-TV’s “Life & Times." For the first national PBS series about gay issues, “The Question of Equality,” he directed the episode, “Out Rage ’69,” about New York’s famous Stonewall Riots—the uprisings that helped galvanize the modern LGBT civil rights movement.

Along with other recognition, Dong has received three Sundance Film Festival Awards and five Emmy nominations. He has also received two GLAAD Media Awards and the OUT 100 Award for his work on “Licensed to Kill.”

In 2014 Dong turned his research for the film "Forbidden City, USA” into a book, which recieved the 2015 American Book Award. Most recently, he released his latest film, "The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor," and was appointed Distinguished Professor in Film at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.