Valerie Soe

Valerie Soe MFA

Valerie Soe 蘇杏娟, M.F.A.

Professor, Asian American Studies Department
Office: EP 108
Phone: (415) 338-1480

Faculty Biography

Since 1986 Valerie Soe’s experimental videos, installations, and documentary films have won dozens of awards, grants, and commissions and have exhibited at venues such as the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum in New York City, and at film festivals, museums, and galleries worldwide.. Her short experimental video, “ALL ORIENTALS LOOK THE SAME,” created when she was an undergraduate at UCLA, won Best Foreign Video at the 1987 Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani, Torino, Italy, First Place, Experimental Category, at the 1987 Sony Corporation Visions of U.S. Festival, and Honorable Mention, Experimental Video, at the 12th Atlanta Film and Video Festival. Her many other awards include: Director's Choice Award, Image Film and Video Festival, Atlanta; Best Bay Area Short, San Francisco International Film Festival; Making A Difference Award, Commffest Global Community Film Festival, Toronto; and Mediamaker Award, Bay Area Video Coalition, among others. Her writing has been published in books and journals including Countervisions: Asian American Film Criticism; The Palgrave Handbook of Asian Cinema; Amerasia Journal, and Asian Cinema, among many others. Soe is the author of the blog (recipient of a 2012 Art Writers’ Grant, Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation), which looks at Asian and Asian American art, film, culture, and activism. Her feature documentary, LOVE BOAT: TAIWAN, was released in 2019 and has played to sold-out festival audiences across North America and in Taiwan. She currently teaches courses in Asian American film history, media production, and photography.

  • M.F.A.  School of the Arts Institute of Chicago, Video and Photography
  • B.A. University of California at Los Angeles, Art

Asian American film, art, history, and culture; Asian American media representations; art and activism

  • 218 Asian American Culture
  • 514 Asian American Community Arts Workshop
  • 516 Asian American Photographic Explorations
  • 518 Asian Americans and Mass Media
  • 581 Asian American Women
  • 582 Asian American Women Literature and the Arts
  • AAS RTP Committee
  • University Interdisciplinary Council (2015 - 2018)


  • Best Film with an Immigration Theme Award, The Chinese Gardens. Humboldt Film Festival, California.
  • Individual Artist’s Grant, Cultural Equity Fund, San Francisco Arts Commission
  • Office of Research and Sponsored Program Grant, San Francisco State University


  • Art Writers Grant, Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Foundation for her blog,
  • Community University Empowerment Grant, San Francisco State University Cesar Chavez Institute
  • Individual Artist’s Grant, Cultural Equity Fund, San Francisco Arts Commission


  • MediaMaker Grant, Bay Area Video Coalition
  • Open Door Completion Fund Award, Center for Asian American Media


Filmhouse Filmmaker’s Residency, San Francisco Film Society


  • Artist’s Commission, ReNew Media 20th Anniversary
  • San Francisco State University Presidential Award for Professional Development of Probationary Faculty


Artist’s Grant, Creative Work Fund, Haas Foundation


Artist’s Commission, The Exploratorium, San Francisco


  • Creative Work Fund Grant, Haas Foundation
  • Artist’s Grant, Art-in-Print, Public Art Works, Marin County


Artist’s Grant, Fleishhacker Foundation


  • Potrero Nuevo Fund Prize, New Langton Arts, San Francisco
  • Artist’s Grant, Serpent Source Foundation for Women Artists
  • New Visions: Video Production Grant, Long Beach Museum of Art
  • Artist’s Residency, Centrum Foundation, Port Townsend, Washington


  • James D. Phelan Art Award in Video, San Francisco Foundation
  • Artist’s Residency, Djerassi Foundation, Woodland, California


  • Artist’s Grant, Cultural Equity Fund, San Francisco Art Commission
  • Artist’s Equipment Access Grant, Bay Area Video Coalition, San Francisco
  • Individual Artist’s Project Grant, LACE & New Langton Arts
  • Artist’s Fellowship, Art Matters, Inc.
  • Veronica di Rosa Residency, Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin County


  • Best Bay Area Short, Golden Gate Awards, San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Pioneer Fund Documentary Film/Video Grant, San Francisco


  • Intercultural Film/Video Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation, New York
  • Market Street Art in Transit, San Francisco Arts Commission
  • Director’s Choice, Image Film and Video Festival, Atlanta, Georgia


  • Individual Artists Project, Art in Public Places, University of Washington and Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle
  • Artspace Video Production Grant, San Francisco


Western States Regional Media Arts Fellowship, Rocky Mountain Film Center


Personal Works Grant, Film Arts Foundation, San Francisco


  • First Place, Experimental Category, Sony Corporation Visions of US Festival
  • Honorable Mention, Experimental Video, 12th Atlanta Film and Video Festival


Best Foreign Video, Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani, Torino, Italy


  • Third Place, Experimental Category, Sony Corporation Visions of US Festival, Los Angeles
  • Regional Finalist, Student Video Competition, American Film Institute National Video Festival, Los Angeles
  • 3rd I South Asian Film Festival Advisory Board
  • Former University of Washington Public Art Commissioner (1993-2005)
  • Association of Independent Film and Videomakers, New York City, Board of Directors (1998-2002)
  • Film Arts Foundation, San Francisco, Board of Directors (1989-2000)

Selected Research Projects

  • Love Boat: Taiwan, documentary, 2019, 63 min.
  • The Chinese Gardens, 2012, experimental documentary, 17 min.
  • The Oak Park Story, 2010, documentary, 22 min.
  • Carefully Taught, 2002, experimental video, 4 min. 
  • Each One Teach One: The Alvarado School Art Program, 2002, documentary, 23 min.
  • Beyond Asiaphilia, 1997, experimental video, 14 min.
  • Picturing Oriental Girls: A (Re) Educational Videotape, 1992, experimental video, 12 min.
  • Mixed Blood, 1992, multi-channel installation, 20 min.
  • New Year, Parts I & II, 1987, multi-channel installation, 23 min.
  • “ALL ORIENTALS LOOK THE SAME,” 1986, experimental video, 1.30 min.

Selected Publications

  • “Have A Good Night: CNBLUE and The Case for Live Performance in K-pop,” by Valerie Soe, The Future of Live Music, eds. Ewa Mazierska, Les Gillon, and Tony Rigg, Bloomsbury Academic, New York, 2020
  • “Gangsta Gangsta: Hong Kong Triad Films 1986-2014,” by Valerie Soe, A Companion to the Gangster Film, ed. George Larke-Walsh, Wiley-Blackwell, 2019
  •  “Hallyu in Hollywood: South Korean Actors in the United States, ” by Valerie Soe, From Bollywood to Hallyuwood: Mapping Power and Pleasure Across Pop Empires, eds. Sharon Heijin Lee, Monika Mehta, and Robert Ji-Song Ku, 2019
  • “The Asian Wave: Three Asian Male Superstars in Hollywood,” by Valerie Soe, Palgrave’s Handbook of Asian Cinema, eds. Tam See-Kam, Aaron Magnon-Park, and Gina Marchetti, Palgrave. 2018
  • “A Taste of Home: Emotional Transnationalism and China Lion Film Distribution in the United States,” by Valerie Soe, Asian Cinema Journal, volume 28, issue 2
  •  “New Asian American Documentaries: Transnational Perspectives,” by Valerie Soe, Companion to Asian American Media, eds. Vincent Pham and Lori K. Lopez, Routledge, 2017
  • “Open-Source Identities: Identity and Resistance in the Work of Three Asian American Artists,” by Valerie Soe, Que(e)rying Contemporary Asian American Art, eds. Laura Kina and Jan Bernabe, University of Washington Press, 2017
  • “The End of the World As We Know It: Video Art In the 1990s,” by Valerie Soe, Radical Light, Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000, eds. Steve Anker, Kathy Geritz, and Steve Seid, Berkeley, UC Berkeley Press, 2010
  • “Video Arte Povera: Lo-Fi Rules!” by Valerie Soe, Women, Art, and Technology, ed. Judy Malloy, Boston, MIT Press, 2003
  • “Fighting Fire With Fire: Detournement, Activism, and Video Art,” by Valerie Soe, Countervisions: Asian American Film Criticism, eds. Darrell Y. Hamamoto and Sandra Liu, Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2002


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