The Museum of Modern Art has tapped La Frances Hui, an expert in Asian cinema who most recently served as Film
Curator and Associate Director of Cultural Programs at the Asia Society in New York, as an Associate Curator in the Department of Film, the museum announced this morning. Hui joins what critic Thelma Adams called “the nation’s preeminent museum film department,” which has been led since 2007 by Rajendra Roy, whose tenure has been marked by a certain populist streak—including an ongoing exhibition curated by Adjunct Film Curator Dave Kehr devoted to the films of Robert Zemeckis, director of “The Walk,” and a blockbuster Tim Burton retrospective in 2009-2010.
Hui, who presented the films of Tsai Ming-liang (“Stray Dogs”) and Jafar Panahi (“Taxi,” “This Is Not a Film”) at the Asia Society, brings to MoMA both breadth and depth of knowledge when it comes to Asian cinema, including Chinese cinema, the Japanese and Iranian New Waves, contemporary Thai films, and popular Korean filmmaking.
It’s a timely move for the museum, which also has a tribute to “Carol” and “Truth” Oscar contender Cate Blanchett planned for November. As Noel Murray, Tasha Robinson, and Scott Tobias pointed out at The Dissolve in 2013, Asian cinema—particularly in the realms of action, horror, and sci-fi—has had a profound influence on both studio and independent films in the United States over the course of the past two decades, and the lucrative Chinese market promises to hold Hollywood’s attention for the foreseeable future. Hui’s tenure is likely to bring MoMA into these broader cinematic conversations in surprising new ways.
Hui’s first day at MoMA is October 13.