About The Film

See The Laundromat Trailer

Silence and shame rule the daily lives of many Asian American families, breeding bitterness, pain, and despair. In The Laundromat the filmmaker embarks on a journey to discover if she and her friends can find freedom from painful cycles when they break tradition and share their stories.


"Don't air your dirty laundry." It's a common phrase, but in Asian American culture, it is a duty that has become second nature. When I dealt with silence and secrecy in my own life, I looked around and realized that this is not an uncommon issue within the Asian American community. I could not help but ask myself, why are we like this, and how can we change this dynamic?

My quest to find these answers begins by conversing with friends who have faced painful situations and learned to talk about it.

My first stop is with JESSICA who saw her family fall apart after her parents' divorce. Jessica has to deal with the fallout from this and a repressed memory, or risk not moving forward and starting her own family. I then visited CHRIS, who passively witnessed his family start to fracture, but it was death that brought seismic changes to his life. He must decide to either help the family stay together or watch it break apart. Finally, I interviewed ANN, who found freedom and exploration in college but also abandonment and loneliness. Now she is figuring out how one lonely decision will affect her and her family.

Woven throughout my friends' stories, I examine my own struggles with silence. Although my depression is the distant past, I still find it extremely difficult to share about it with those I love. Exploring my reluctance to talk to them, I openly reflect with myself and trusted friends on this dilemma. How do I learn to speak? Is therapy right for me? What prevents me from having candid conversations with my own family? What is it I am afraid of?

But before I can fully grapple with these personal struggles, I interview four professionals and ask them: Why are we like this and how can we change? A psychologist, a CEO of a non-profit organization, a performance artist, and a professor of Asian American Studies shed light on how their fields of study address these issues and help contextualize the cultural similarities of the vast demographic of Asian Americans.

Thus, using honesty, humor, and hope, The Laundromat desires to create a safe place for the Asian American community to speak on why we are like this and how to break painful cycles. I intend this film to be a symbolic "Laundromat" – a third party that hosts a space to come clean about the secrets and shame we hide in the Asian American community.

USA | 2012 | Color | Feature-Length | HD


Mary Pickford Award

Edie and Lew Wasserman Film Production Fellowship

At The Laundromat is a supportive online community that exists to challenge the taboo of talking. We welcome you to air your dirty laundry – your past, your emotions, your fears, and your questions – in a safe space. ATL is also an online extension of Vanessa A. Yee’s documentary featuring young Asian Americans breaking the silence that takes hold of their lives and their families. So speak. Write. We’ll listen.

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