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The Asian-American movement from the perspective of young residents on the front lines of their historic neighborhood in transition.
The Asian-American movement from the perspective of young residents on the front lines of their historic neighborhood in transition.
The Asian-American movement from the perspective of young residents on the front lines of their historic neighborhood in transition.
372 backers pledged $75,062 to help bring this project to life.

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Against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement of the mid-1960s, a young San Francisco Chinatown resident armed with a 16mm camera and leftover film scraps from a local TV station, turned his lens onto his community. Totaling more than 20,000 feet of film (10 hours), Harry Chuck's exquisite unreleased footage has captured a divided community's struggles for self-determination. Chinatown Rising (working title) is a documentary film about the Asian-American movement from the perspective of the young residents on the front lines of their historic neighborhood in transition. Through publicly challenging the conservative views of their elders, their demonstrations and protests of the 1960s-1980s rattled the once quiet streets during the community’s shift in power. Forty-five years later, in intimate interviews these activists recall their roles and experiences in response to the need for social change.

WHY WE NEED THE DOUGH

We made it through pre-production mainly by self-financing the digitizing of 60% of the footage. I have assembled a team that will move the project forward to completion. We’re now facing the two costliest parts of making a film: production and post-production. The money we are aiming to raise on Kickstarter is targeted for three very specific areas:

  • Production ($45,000 -125,000) – Our preliminary interviews are complete and we will begin filming our on-camera interviews/activists and historians. In order to assure that we give this story the treatment it deserves we have a solid network of freelancers, but those freelancers need to get paid!
  • remaining 40% of 16mm footage need to be digitized/preserved
  • Post Production ($125,000 - 250,000) —Editing, color correction, music score, sound mix, legal, production insurance (E&O).

WHAT YOU'LL SEE

From 1957 to 2001, I lived and worked at a Chinatown community center named Donaldina Cameron House. I experienced and filmed events in the neighborhood as they occurred, often blending in with demonstrators or positioning myself on a rooftop. As I look back on that special time, what strikes me are the unexpected ways in which global and local events interact. My film identifies key participants and their active roles in these events.

  • Our film highlights the following movements (Six Company Association and Chinatown youth conflict; SF State student strike for ethnic studies; The Lau vs. Nichols Supreme Court case on bilingual education; beginning of school integration and busing; The two China debate; International Hotel eviction; Rise in gang violence; The fight for affordable housing)
  • Never-before-seen film footage of SF Chinatown from mid-1965-1980s (over 10 hours of 8mm and 16mm film footage)
  • Compelling interviews with those on the front lines recalling their roles as activists, 45 years later.

We continue, perhaps more than ever, to live in racial tension, in the shadowy abyss of intolerance; and the need is great for a new generation of leadership to build understanding through open dialogue. We envision this film inspiring people of all ages and cultures, to stand up and fight to save their multidimensional communities.

THE TEAM

HARRY CHUCK (Producer, Cinematographer, Director) Former Youth Director and later Executive Director of Cameron House, Harry was an early mentor for hundreds of Chinatown youth including author/activist Gordon Chin. Harry was the catalyst in Chinatown’s fight to save the Chinese Playground from being developed into a parking garage, leading to the formation of the Committee for Better Parks and Recreation in Chinatown. He was co-founder of the Chinatown Coalition for Better Housing, which led the fight to develop the Mei Lun Yuen affordable housing project. He was appointed by four separate mayors to city commissions which included the Public Housing Authority and Juvenile Justice Commission. Harry was one of the first Asian American religious leaders to speak out for same-sex marriage. In 1981, he earned his MA from the SF State University’s Film Arts Department where he served as a p/t student assistant in film history. His footage for this film was shot as a student/activist.

JAMES Q. CHAN (Producer) James is a San Francisco-based filmmaker who has collaborated on Emmy- and Grammy-winning projects. James received his film training through the mentorship from two-time Academy Award winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (THE TIMES of HARVEY MILK, THE CELLULOID CLOSET, PARAGRAPH 175, BATTLE OF AMFAR). From 2000-2011, James managed the day-to-day operations of Telling Pictures, Epstein and Friedman's San Francisco Production office. His producing credits with Epstein & Friedman began on The History Channel's 10 DAYS THAT UNEXPECTEDLY CHANGED AMERICA (Emmy Award; Outstanding Non-Fiction Series) to HOWL (Sundance 2010 Opening Night; Berlinale; National Board of Review's Freedom of Expression Award). His recent producing credits include PUCK (Dutch broadcaster IDTV and VPRO Television), a feature documentary about an extraordinary child protégé from The Netherlands who started programming at the age of seven and within a few years has won both Apple and Google’s design competitions; ISTINMA (Best Short, 2014 American Indian Film Festival; Smithsonian Institute Native Showcase); ENTRY DENIED (2012 Provincetown Int’l Jury Award Documentary Short); THE BRIDGE (Frameline; Los Angeles Int'l); RIGHT DOWN THE LINE (Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream, Grammy 2013). James is the producer/director of the award-winning new film “FOREVER, CHINATOWN”, a documentary made with the support from The Pacific Pioneer Award, San Francisco Foundation, CAAM, ITVS, and California Humanities fund. He is the founder of Good Medicine Picture Company (www.goodmedicinefilms.com)

JOSHUA CHUCK (Co-Producer/Assistant Editor) Josh grew up in San Francisco's Chinatown and has worked in the community for over 16 years as a youth worker, filmmaker, and fundraiser. He has produced, shot and edited short films for the past 16 years, mostly sharing the stories of individuals who symbolize the rich diversity of the city, as well as organizations advocating for the needs of the underserved. He currently directs the UPS Community Internship in San Francisco, an intensive community immersion program for UPS Upper Management, which focuses on the Chinatown, Tenderloin, and Bayview neighborhoods. He enjoys international travel, often spending months at a time overseas. To Josh, the best part of travel is learning about other cultures, meeting inspiring individuals, and playing basketball with the locals.

ANSON HO (Cinematographer/Editor) Anson is a San Francisco native rooted in the Chinatown community. While serving in the US Navy he found his passion in film and tv when he produced and filmed his own closed circuit television show on his naval ship, USS OLDENDORF. He followed his passion by moving to Los Angeles and worked on various short films, music videos and documentary projects. Notable projects included sundance film FINISHING THE GAME as an associated producer and thereafter worked on Universal's Studio FAST & FURIOUS as an assistant to the director both directed by Justin Lin. He also help develop and film numerous webseries and comedy sketches on a Youtube Asian American channel called YOMYOMF which gained over 35 million views within a year. As a traveling cinematographer, he's film documentaries all over China, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Mt Everest base camp. He is currently working on a feature film narrative called SNAKEHEAD as a 1st Assistant Director.

Project Advisors

JUDY YUNG is professor emerita in American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She specializes in oral history, women's history, and Asian American history. Judy Yung is the fifth daughter of six children born to immigrant parents from China. She grew up in San Francisco Chinatown, where her father worked as a janitor and her mother as a seamstress to support the family. Yung was able to acquire a bilingual education by attending both public school and Chinese language school for ten years. She received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds an M.A. in Library Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. in English Literature and Chinese from San Francisco State University. Prior to entering academia, Yung worked as librarian for the Chinatown branch of the San Francisco Public Library and the Asian branch of the Oakland Public Library, pioneering the development of Asian language materials and Asian American interest collections in the public library to better serve the Asian American community. She also spent four years working as associate editor of the East West newspaper. Upon receiving her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies, Yung was hired to establish an Asian American Studies program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she taught courses in Asian American studies, women's history, oral history, and mixed race until she retired in 2004.

GORDON CHIN is the former Executive Director of San Francisco’s Chinatown Community Development Center, which he co-founded and ran for 34 years before retiring in October 2011. Recognized nationally as a leader in community development and affordable housing, and as a pioneering Asian American activist, he led Chinatown CDC in developing thousands of units of affordable housing for low-income seniors, working families, and formerly homeless residents. From the beginning of the Asian American Movement in the turbulent 1960s, he has devoted himself to building community, organizing tenants and immigrant families, and developing youth leaders. Mr. Chin lives in San Francisco, where he continues to be involved in community issues and is an avid Giants fan.

EVAN JACKSON LEONG directed the documentary LINSANITY about Jeremy Lin, which screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Leong has also directed the feature-length documentary 1040: CHRISTIANITY in the NEW ASIA and BLT Genesis: The journey of BLT. Leong is currently in production, directing the crime drama SNAKEHEAD in a tale about the underworld of human smuggling in New York City's Chinatown.

Risks and challenges

Because the storyline of this film depends upon the oral histories of those featured in the film, we are mindful of the advanced age of our interviewees.

Many of the interviewees are longtime friends and fellow activists. A Who’s Who list of over two-dozen prominent community activists and organizations has confirmed their participation in the film.

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- (30 days)