The Chinese Experience } Resources - Films and Videos
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ANCESTORS IN THE AMERICAS: COOLIES, SAILORS, SETTLERS
Part I: Asian American History Series
Produced by Loni Ding. Center for Educational Telecommunications. 64 min.
ANCESTORS IN THE AMERICAS: CHINESE IN THE FRONTIER WEST - AN AMERICAN STORY. Part II: Asian American History Series
Produced by Loni Ding. Center for Educational Telecommunications. 1998. 60 min. Source: Loni Ding.
A PBS program, produced, directed and written by Loni Ding, Ancestors in the Americas is the first in-depth television series to present the untold history and contemporary legacy of early Asian immigrants to the Americas, from the 1700's to the 1900's.
CANAL STREET: FIRST STOP IN AMERICA
Less than a mile long, Canal Street is the dirtiest and noisiest, but also the most vibrant and dynamic street in New York City. For over a century, new immigrants have expected Canal Street to furnish the American Dream, to provide an opportunity to work hard and build a future. Emmy award-winning producer Keiko Tsuno and Professor Peter Kwong take us on an insider's tour of this bustling street, where immigrant businesspeople are caught between the forces of the Law and a street with a law of its own.
CARVED IN SILENCE
Producer/Director Felicia Lowe. 1988. 45 min. Docu-drama. Source: NAATA http://www.naata.org
Featuring recreated scenes in actual barracks and interviews with former detainees, this film tells the dramatic story of Angel Island, the "Ellis Island of the West," and it's inhabitants.
Neighborhoods, the Hidden Cities of San Francisco Series. Produced by Felicia Lowe for KQED, Channel 9. Source: KQED.
This documentary, which premieres on March 27th at 10:30 PM, traces the story of San Francisco's Chinatown from its beginnings, covering events in the life of the neighborhood. The story revolves around a group of immigrants that have preserved their culture, history, and language in the face of overwhelming odds.
CHINATOWN: THE HIDDEN CITIES OF SAN FRANCISCO
Dir: Felicia Lowe. 1996
This program takes a look at Chinese immigration to America. This is a continuing story that lives in the streets of every neighborhood and in the hearts of the people who left their homes to establish new lives in America.
View resource guide.
CHINATOWN: STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND
Produced by Perpetual Motion Films, 11801 Mississippi Ave. Ste. 300, LA, CA 90025; tel: 310-477-0435. AIRED ON HISTORY CHANNEL. 1999, 100 min. Source: History Channel
Venture back 150 years into the past in this feature-length program that examines the culture, the myths, and the enduring legacies of the Chinese Experience in America.
THE CHINESE AMERICANS
Produced by Roy Hammond, Roman Brigider, WLIW, New York 1999.
With film, photos, and personal recollections from prominent Asian-Americans, this film visits generations of Chinese families who came to the US from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
THE FALL OF THE I-HOTEL
Produced & Directed by Curtis Choy. 1993, 58 min. Source: NAATA
This film documents the nine year struggle to save San Francisco's I Hotel and ultimately, its demolition in 1977. Home to Filipino immigrants and located a the heart of Manilatown, the I Hotel was converted into a parking garage after law enforcement officers forcibly removed the building's 300 residents.
Production Site (under construction)
FLOWER DRUM SONG
A Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Flower Drum Song depicted the generational struggle present in the Chinese American community. It is a story of identity and history, tradition and modernization. Originally set in the 1950s San Francisco Chinatown, the play later became a movie and just this year has returned to Broadway. Flower Drum Song was a significant piece of film history, depicting the lifestyle of Asian Americans and starring Asian Americans in an era dominated by pervasive racism and cultural misunderstanding.
Produced by Stephen C. Ning & Yuet-Fung Ho. 1983. 48 min. drama. Source: NAATA
Take a look back to a 1960s Boston Chinatown in this film, which is told through the eyes of a young boy wrestling with his identity and Chinese American heritage.
Produced by Arthur Dong. 1989. 56 min. American Experience # 214. Source: American Experience, WGBH
Deep Focus Productions
This episode of the acclaimed PBS series, American Experience, examines the decades of change in San Francisco's Chinatown. By the 1930s what was once a closed world ruled by homeland custom had transformed into a hotbed of American culture, as the second generation of Chinese American immigrants pursued their passion for music and dance at the city's most famous nightclub, Forbidden City.
FROM MADERA, CALIFORNIA TO KAIPING, CHINA
A true story about a group of 6th graders in the California Valley town of Madera, who rescued a 70 year-old Chinese burial ground from historical oblivion. Miraculously, the son of a one of the men buried in the cemetery is found living in Kaiping, China, and is presented with a photo of his long-lost father's hitherto unknown tombstone. The presentation takes place in the family house built with money the father had faithfully sent back from America.
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THE GREAT SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE: 1906
Moira Productions. Written & produced by Tom Weidlinger. 1988. 60 min. Source: American Experience, WGBH.
On April 18th, 1906, the city of San Francisco changed forever. What once stood as a symbol of America's conquest of the West lay in smoldering ruins after one of the greatest catastrophes in history, the great earthquake. This episode of American Experience tells the story of the quake and its aftermath, the might of nature and the resillience of the survivors that rebuilt the bay city.
HOME BASE: A CHINATOWN CALLED HEINLENVILLE
Produced & Directed by Jessica Yu. American Film Foundation. 1991.
Jessica Yu, an Oscar-winning producer of documentary films, daughter of Becoming American featured character Connie Young Yu and granddaughter of a leading Heinlenville resident, Col. John. C. Young, produced Home Base. HEinlenville is one of San Jose's noted Chinatowns and the film covers the eperiod from the destruction by arson in 1887 of the previous Chinatown through the destruction of the Ng Shing Gung temple in 1940 up to the late 1980s when the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project raised funds to reconstruct the temple.
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ISLAND OF SECRET MEMORIES: ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION
Produced by Loni Ding. Vox Productions. 20 min
Told from the perspective of modern school children visiting the museum, this brief, powerful program relates the experiences of early Chinese immigrants detained at the Angel Island immigration center.
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THE LANGUAGE OF LIFE: SWIRL LIKE A LEAF MARILYN CHIN)
Produced by David Grubin and Public Affairs Television. 1995, 58 min.
Contact Public Affairs Television
In this episode from the Bill Moyers series The Language of Life, Marilyn Chin discusses the themes of exile, loss and assimilation that underlie her poetry. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon, Chin is a first-generation Chinese American and her poetry also addresses the oppression of women by both the Chinese and American cultures.
MAXINE HONG KINGSTON: TALKING STORY
Directed & Produced by Joan Saffa & Stephen Talbot. 1990 Produced by KQED, San Francisco.
Maxine Hong Kingston: Talking Story gives viewers the opportunity to hear this storyteller speak from her heart about what motivates her to create: a turbulent haunting of ancestors, her cultural heritage, sexual and racial oppression, and her search for self.
MONKEY KING LOOKS WEST
Directed by Christine Choy, Produced and Written by Renee Tajima. 1990
This colorful production contrasts the rich heritage of Chinese opera with the day-to-day realities of its emigréperformers in New York's Chinatown. It depicts the efforts of three classically-trained opera artists to keep alive their revered art form for the generation of young Chinese-Americans who would otherwise not be exposed to their tradition.
MOYERS: WORLD OF IDEAS - A CONFUCIAN LIFE IN AMERICA WITH TU WEI MING
Produced by Public Affairs Television. 27:45. Source: PAT.
In this Bill Moyers production, professor and philosopher Tu Wei Ming discusses the relevance of Confucian thought in the modern world.
MOYERS: A WORLD OF IDEAS - MAXINE HONG KINGSTON (PARTS 1 and 2)
Produced by Public Affairs Television. c. 1990. 56 min. Source: PAT.
Contact Public Affairs Television
In this program from the World of Ideas series, writer Maxine Hong Kingston sits down with Bill Moyers to discuss the notion of the American "melting pot" and what it means for the Chinese-American and national consciousness.
MY AMERICA... OR HONK IF YOU LOVE BUDDHA
Producer/director Renee Tajima-Pena. c. 1998. 87 min. color. Source: Sai Communications.
Reminiscent of Kerouac's On The Road, Renee Tajima Pena's documentary takes a captivating look at America's fastest growing minority group. In her coast to coast drive, Tajima Pena examines how the racial landscape has changed since her first cross-country trip as a child.
ONE HUNDRED EGGS A MINUTE
A film by Anita Chang. Asian American Mafia Film & Media Arts Production Company. 1996. B&W. Source: University of California Extension center for Media and Independent Learning.
Anita Chang, Director: 209 San Jose Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-641-8658 .
This experimental film documents the experiences of second-generation Chinese Americans who grew up working in family-owned businesses. The protagonist, Mary Woo, who came of age working in her family's fortune cookie factory while trying create a separate life.
THE POWER OF THE WORD: VOICES OF MEMORY FEATURING LI-YOUNG LEE
Produced by Public Affairs Television and David Grubin Productions. 1989, 60 min.
This program features interviews and poetry reading footage of poets Li-Young Lee and Gerald Stern. In this episode of a six-part series, Lee grapples with the Chinese culture that he learned from his ancestors but never lived.
SEPARATE LIVES, BROKEN DREAMS
Directed by Jennie F. Lew. Produced by Jennie F. Lew and Yvonne Y. Lee. Co-Production of KPIX San Francisco & the Chinese American Citizen's Alliance.1994. 47 min. Documentary. Source: NAATA
A documentary film exploring the origins and effects of the Chinese Exclusion acts. Produced in the early 1990s, Separate Lives, Broken Dreams was a collaboration between the National Asian American Telecommunications Association and the CPB. Read a synopsis.
SHATTERING THE SILENCES
Directed by S. Nelson & G. Pellett, Produced by Gail Pellett Productions.
This film examines issues of faculty diversity in American higher education, paying particular attention to minority scholars in the humanities and social sciences and the ways in which their research and teaching affect students and academic communitites.
SLAYING THE DRAGON
Produced & Directed by Deborah Gee. Asian Women United. 1988, 58 min. Source: NAATA
Deborah Gee's film uses clips from classic and current films to explore the manner in which Asians, and particularly Asian American women, have been portrayed on the silver screen and the historical and political circumstances that influenced those depictions.
SNAKEHEADSs: THE CHINESE MAFIA & THE NEW SLAVE TRADE
Produced by Jon Alpert, Ying Chan, Peter Kwong. DCTV. 38 min. 1995. Source: Peter Kwong.
e-mail WEB@dctvny.org or call toll free (866) 228-8692 x233
or in New York City (212) 966-4510 x233.
This documentary film explores illegal Chinese immigration and the underworld of sweatshop labor in the United States that each yearleaves millions of lives in the hands of the Chinese mafia.
WE SERVED WITH PRIDE - The Chinese American Experience in WWII
Directed by Montgomery Hom
We Served With Pride is a one-hour length film by Montgomery Hom about the Chinese American experience during WWII. Five years in the making, the film provides a powerful and insightful first-hand look into the lives of Chinese American veterans who participated in major battles overseas, as well as Chinese American civilians who worked on the homefront, service organizations, and in defense work.
This film by Ken Burns chronicles the development of the American West: its gold, its legends, its diversity. The companion website includes historical information and photographs from the film, which includes Chinese American contributions to the growth of the nation.
WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN? PARTs 1 and 2
Director: Renee Tajima- Pena and Christine Choy.
This documentary explores the 1982 murder of Chinese American Vincent Chin and the subsequent legal case, and the first criminal civil rights prosecution involving Anti-Asian American discrimination.
THE WRITER: EPISODES 310-312
Gish Jen, Lawrence Weschler, Donald Hall
This series of weekly half hour programs focus on contemporary writers and poets. Each episode features conversations and readings with our visiting writers for a condensed view of the writer and their work.