Seeking Asian Female Directed by Debbie Lum Wed., June 20 at 8 p.m. at Round House Theatre. Also on Fri., June 22 at 9:15 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre 3.

Talk about the Hawthorne Principle. The subject of Seeking Asian Female, a goofy 60-year-old American named Steven, might never have married if not for the presence of the director, Debbie Lum. That’s because here, Lum isn’t just a documentarian but also an unwitting translator and counselor to Steven and his bride-to-be, 30-year-old Sandy, who leaves China to live with him in his cramped, messy apartment. When the Chinese-American Lum first met Steven, she says she “had to fight the urge to turn around and leave.” She was interviewing white men who had “yellow fever,” an fetish-like attraction to Asian women. She settles in on Steven, who has a couple of decades’ worth of photos and correspondence from Asian females. He takes Lum’s photo, too: “This is my worst nightmare. Will I become a picture on his wall as well?” she asks in her stilted, terrible-actor narration. But Steven grows on her, just as he grows on the viewer, his perviness giving way to affable sincerity in his desire to find a wife. Lum’s voiceover settles into a more natural rhythm as she becomes an increasingly important part of the story she’s telling. Her involvement is so intimate, and her handling of the couple’s troubles so candid, it’s hard to cry foul.

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