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Director's Statement

It has taken me ten years to admit that I’m a compulsive gambler. I have silently struggled with a gambling addiction for the past decade and it is finally something that I am learning to live without.

As a Chinese daughter of immigrants from Taiwan and Indonesia, I have felt pressure to succeed in everything I pursue, often neglecting the state of my mental health. Growing up, I occasionally heard my parents discuss tragic generational gambling patterns; in many ways, these stories must have stored themselves in my memory bank as my curiosity about gambling peaked and became a secret outlet for me when I needed a temporary escape from the difficulties of life. My close friends and family members have witnessed the emotional spirals of this addiction’s impact in my life – incomprehensible behavior that resulted in active self-destruction.

“We have this saying in Chinese:
If you don’t gamble, you don’t
know how lucky you are.”

— Anonymous Chinese gambler

It is commonly known that gambling is socially acceptable for most Asians but losing control and managing a problem is simply not. My disposition of navigating two worlds – suppressing my internal shame and inadequacy, while maintaining autonomy was tied to the fear of causing disruption to my family’s reputation. After many years of denial and rock bottoms, I started to embrace my path to recovery.

Surrender attempts to demystify gambling as a male activity, and provides the audience with an opportunity to experience the point of view of a recovering protagonist that is still entrapped by her family’s trauma. For me, as an Asian American woman, it is particularly important for me to change the narrative of how mainstream media portrays gambling and distorts reality; it has been documented that 59% of women suffer from this silent, progressive disease and I believe that there is a need for normalizing conversations about addictions among the landscape of Asian Americans today.

-Jess Dang, Writer/Director


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