No Look Pass – A Sure Hit in Its Boston Premiere at Brattle Theatre

By David Li,

In the evening of March 24, documentary film No Look Pass had its Boston area premiere at Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square. About 300 people, including many current and former Harvard Women’s Basketball team members, were on hand to welcome back director Melissa Johnson, a former lady Crimson.

The premiere was co-presented by the Boston Asian American Film Festival and Women, Action & the Media Boston (WAM! Boston). No Look Pass was the last film screened at the WAM!Boston Film Festival 2012. The audience enjoyed the documentary thoroughly with many familiar scenes and people in and around Harvard.

While Jeremy Lin was leading Harvard’s Men’s Basketball team to NCAAP tournament appearances, there was another Asian basketball point guard, Emily Tay, at Harvard. In fact, Tay was one year senior to Jeryme Lin, who is now among her supporters for pursuing professional basketball in Europe.

According to the movie’s website ( ), No Look Pass is the coming-of-age American Dream story of Emily “Etay” Tay, a first generation Burmese immigrant from Chinatown, Los Angeles, who breaks all of the rules of tradition. After living a double life at Harvard University, she strives to play professional basketball in Germany while coming out as a lesbian. Her basketball talent, lovable smile, immigrant background, Buddhist upbringing and sportsmanship make her one of the most intriguing characters you will ever see in a movie.

One of the most moving moments of the film was when Emily cried in front of the camera, and said she didn’t choose to be a lesbian and ruined her Burmese immigrant parents’ wish of a traditional marriage. Currently, Tay plays professional basketball in Germany, and dates a woman soldier in the US military base there openly, thanks to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

After the movie, coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, Director Johnson and co-star Katie Rollins, who played with Tay at Harvard and in Germany, had a Q/A session with the audience. At six feet and five inches, Director Johnson joked that she might be the tallest woman director around. She mentioned that it took three years, 300 hours of video footage and a number of trips to Europe to make this 98-minute documentary. This is the first feature length documentary Johnson ever directed.

(From left)Coach Delaney-Smith, Katie Rollins and Director Johnson in the Q/A session.

Coach Delaney-Smith adored her multi-talented former player, and now director. She hoped that the camera outside the locker room had stopped rolling at halftime of a basketball game when she yelled at her players for a bad first half. When asked about Emily Tay’s basketball talent, coach Delaney-Smith said Tay was among top five players in her 20 seasons as head coach at Harvard. Rollins gave up her professional basketball dream after playing with Tay in a professional league in Germany for one year, and now works at a PR firm in Boston. She smiled at a question from the audience on whether she was dating a New England Patriots player, and didn’t answer it.

It must be the good luck charm of returning to the site of where the story began, No Look Pass won the Verizon Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the SF IndieFest on March 25, one day after the Harvard Square premiere. No Look Pass has won a dozen or so awards so far, and according director Johnson, a distribution deal was in the works with a major distributor.

WAM!Boston’s website is , and Boston Asian American Film Festival’s website is .