New York, N.Y. — May 5, 2022 — POV, now in its 35th year as America’s longest-running independent documentary series, presents a Special Encore Presentation of the gripping 1988 Academy Award® nominated film, Who Killed Vincent Chin?, by filmmakers Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña, on Monday, June 20, 2022 at 10pm ET. Who Killed Vincent Chin? was recently restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and also selected for the National Film Registry.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the racially motivated murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, murdered by two white men, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, in Detroit, Michigan on June 19, 1982. The documentary, which originally aired on POV in July 1989, details the incident from initial eye-witness accounts, the ensuing murder trials to the lenient sentences the assailants received, and the repercussions for the families and community involved. Who Killed Vincent Chin? also chronicles how the case brought the disparate Asian American communities of Detroit together for the first time, and how they transformed themselves from a grassroots advocacy group into a national movement.
Their efforts helped bring public attention to the anti-Asian hate that led to Vincent Chin's murder, and encouraged Asian American groups across the country to fight for equality and justice. The U.S. Department of Justice brought federal civil rights charges against the killers, who were ultimately acquitted on appeal, on grounds of pre-trial publicity and errors made with witnesses.
“I was vaguely aware of the killing of Vincent Chin in 1982. The next year, when I had the opportunity to meet Lily Chin, Vincent's mother in Detroit, Michigan, I knew this was a story that would make an impact. The project started as a short film to help the American Citizens for Justice (ACJ) raise the legal fee but with the support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the film was expanded. It was a privilege to have taken part in the telling of this story nearly forty years ago and still see its relevance and importance today.” said Who Killed Vincent Chin? filmmaker Christine Choy.
“We knew who killed Vincent Chin, but the real question was why? Was it because of his race? For me it was a Rashomon-like enigma, trying to untangle the conflicting perspectives of the people who lived through the case. It also revealed the fractures in America itself, and ultimately, how people bridged those divides to fight for justice” Who Killed Vincent Chin? filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña added.
Who Killed Vincent Chin? represents a critical turning point for Asian Americans with chilling relevance today. Anti-Asian sentiments that were further stoked by the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to ongoing xenophobia, particularly against Chinese Americans, though they have affected the broader AAPI community. From March 19, 2020 to December 31, 2021, over ten thousand hate crime incidents were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit coalition tracking incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Breaking news headlines about the 2021 Atlanta and Indianapolis shootings, and the recent murders in New York City of Christina Yuna Lee and Michelle Go as well, show that these hate crimes are disproportionately targeted at the elderly and Asian American women.
“It’s such an honor to present Who Killed Vincent Chin? again at this moment and especially on the heels of executive producer Juanita Anderson joining our board of directors. Who Killed Vincent Chin? is a watershed moment in filmmaking craft as well as in building and unifying an intersectional political project for the Asian American community,” said executive director of American Documentary and executive producer of POV Erika Dilday, “Now more than ever we can feel its resonance, and I’m so happy to make this essential work newly accessible to millions of viewers on PBS.”
“The brutal attack on Vincent Chin was a harrowing but significant incident in Detroit’s and America’s history,” said Rich Homberg, president and CEO of Detroit Public Television (DPTV). “This film is a moving testament to the loss of a young man’s life and to the people who stood up to protest this terrible injustice. It speaks volumes now more than ever about the wave of discrimination and violence against Asian Americans we continue to witness.
“The Library of Congress last year added the Who Killed Vincent Chin? documentary to the National Film Registry as one of the most important films in America,” Homberg noted. “We are very pleased that POV and PBS will be airing it to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Vincent Chin tragedy as our nation reaffirms its commitment to social justice for all Americans in the hope that a horrible act such as this will not be repeated.”
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Chin’s death, a series of Remembrance & Rededication activities organized in a partnership between the American Citizens for Justice, the Vincent and Lily Chin Estate, Detroit Public Television (DPTV), Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and City of Detroit Arts and Culture (ACE) are scheduled to take place throughout the U.S. Here’s a list of the Vincent Chin 40th Rededication and Remembrance Events from June 16-19:
- Vincent Chin 40th Commemorative Film Series – Detroit Film Theater, June 16th-17th
- Midwest Asian American Documentary Filmmakers Convening – International Institute of Detroit, June 16th-17th
- National Conversation on AAPIs, America, And Democracy – Detroit Film Theater, June 17th
- An Evening of Asian American Arts, Music and Joy – St. Andrews Hall at Wayne State University, June 18th
- Community Dialogues: Remembrance and Rededication – Detroit Film Theater, June 19th
- Interfaith Remembrance Ceremony – Location TBD June 19th
For more information on these events, please visit VincentChin.org.
Who Killed Vincent Chin? is a co-presentation with Detroit Public Television (DPTV) and CAAM (Center for Asian American Media). Juanita Anderson (now on the board of American Documentary), Nancy Tong, Robert Larson are Executive Producers. Erika Dilday and Chris White are Executive Producers for American Documentary | POV.
Who Killed Vincent Chin photos here
About the Artists
Christine Choy was born in Shanghai, People's Republic of China. Grew up in Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and the US. Mother, Alice Luba Cho was born in Vladivostok, Russia. Father, Kun Woo Choy, was born in I Chun, South Korea. The family was separated for 8 years. They were reunited in Korea. Christine became an American citizen and sponsored the entire family to the US except for her father who passed away in South Korea. She is a multilingual filmmaker. known for The Shot Heard Round the World, (1997) and Long Story Short (2008). Choy was trained in architecture, but later studied directing at the American Film Institute to become a filmmaker. Her work is concerned with discrimination and migration issues. In addition to the Academy Award nominated co-directed Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987), Choy also directed From Spikes to Spindles (1976) which focuses on Chinese migrant workers, and co-directed Sa-I-gu (1993) which is about 1992 LA riots and their impact on Korean Americans. Choy is currently a Professor of Film and Television at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts and has taught at Yale, Cornell, and SUNY Buffalo.
Renee Tajima-Peña was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her grandparents moved from Japan during the Asian Exclusion Era in the early 1900s. She is a filmmaker, known for No Más Bebés (2015), Calavera Highway (2010) and My America… or Honk If You Love Buddha (1997). Tajima-Peña is a Harvard University alum and majored in East Asian Studies and sociology. She is heavily involved with the Asian American movement and the Civil Rights Movement. Her work focuses on issues of immigration, race, gender, and social justice and has been screened internationally and at festivals such as Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. Tajima-Peña most recently produced a five-part PBS series Asian Americans (2020). She is currently a Professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA.
Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. The series is known for introducing generations of viewers to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, American Promise and Minding The Gap and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Laura Poitras and Nanfu Wang. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries. All POV programs are available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.
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POV films and projects have won 45 Emmy Awards, 26 George Foster Peabody Awards, 15 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at pbs.org/pov and follow @povdocs on social media.
About American Documentary, Inc.
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, the Open Society Foundations, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Park Foundation, and Perspective Fund. Additional funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Sage Foundation, Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Abby Pucker, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.