NEW YORK — “POV,” now in its 35th year as America’s longest-running independent documentary series, features a special encore presentation of the gripping 1988 Oscar-nominated film “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” by filmmakers Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña on MondathereJune 20, 2022 at 10 p.m. ET/seven HP afternoon.
The documentary 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 racist murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, by two white men, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, in Detroit on June 19, 1982. The documentary, which originally aired on POV in July 1989, details the incident from the first eyewitness accounts, the subsequent murder trials to the lenient sentences handed down to the attackers, and the repercussions for the families and community involved.
“Who killed Vincent Chin? also chronicles how the case first brought Detroit’s disparate Asian American communities together and how they transformed from a grassroots advocacy group into a national movement.
Their efforts helped bring public attention to the anti-Asian hatred that led to Chin’s murder and encouraged Asian American groups across the country to fight for equality and justice. The US Department of Justice brought federal civil rights charges against the killers, who were ultimately acquitted on appeal, on grounds of pretrial publicity and errors made with witnesses.
“I was vaguely aware of the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982,” said filmmaker Christine Choy. “The following year, when I had the opportunity to meet Lily Chin, Vincent’s mother in Detroit, Michigan, I knew this was a story that would have an impact. The project began as a short film for helping American Citizens for Justice (ACJ) raise legal costs, but with the support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the film was expanded It was a privilege to have been part of telling this story nearly forty years and still see its relevance and importance today.
“We knew who killed Vincent Chin, but the real question was why?” added filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña. “Was it because of his race? To me, it was a “Rashomon” type conundrum, trying to unravel the conflicting perspectives of people who lived through the case. It also revealed the rifts in America itself, and ultimately how people bridged those divides to fight for justice.
“Who killed Vincent Chin? represents a critical turning point for Asian Americans with chilling relevance today. Anti-Asian sentiments that have been further fueled 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 10,000 hate crime incidents were reported to Stop AAPI Hatea nonprofit coalition that tracks incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. these hate crimes disproportionately target older adults and Asian American women.
“It’s such an honor to present “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” still right now and especially on the heels of the executive producer Juanita Anderson join our board of directors,” said Erika Dilday, executive director of “American Documentary” and executive producer of “POV.” “’Who killed Vincent Chin?’ is a watershed moment in filmmaking as well as in building and unifying an intersectional political project for the Asian American community. Now more than ever, we can feel its resonance, and I’m so happy to make this essential work accessible again to millions of viewers on PBS.
“The brutal attack on Vincent Chin was a heartbreaking but significant incident in Detroit and American history,” said Rich Homberg, president and CEO of Detroit Public Television (DPTV). “This film is a moving testimony to the death of a young man and the people who stood up to protest against this terrible injustice. This speaks volumes now more than ever about the wave of discrimination and violence against Asian Americans that we continue to witness.
“Last year the Library of Congress added the ‘Who Killed Vincent Chin?’ documentary to the National Film Registry as one of America’s most important films,” noted Homberg. “We are very pleased that POV and PBS are 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 horrific act like this will not happen again. ”
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Chin’s death, a series of “Remembrance & Rededication” activities organized in partnership between 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 to take place across the United States. For more information on these events, 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 the executive producers. Erika Dilday and Chris White are the executive producers of “American Documentary” | ” Point of view “.