‘Who Killed Vincent Chin’ documentary restored and preserved for history by National Film Registry

The 1987 documentary film “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” was recently inducted into the National Film Registry (NFR) of the Library of Congress this year.

A film honor: The documentary, directed by Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña and produced by Detroit Public TV and Film News Now, explores the case of Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese American man who was beaten to death with a baseball bat while out at his bachelor party with his friends in Detroit on June 19, 1982.

  • His death and the lenient sentence the two convicted suspects received – three years of probation and a fine of $3,000 – ignited a rights movement among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The response to the verdict also brought about “the first federal civil rights trial for a crime against an Asian American,” Detroit Free Press reported.
  • When we began examining the Vincent Chin case 38 years ago, we knew we would be telling a story that explored contemporary issues of national significance,” Juanita Anderson, executive producer of the documentary, said in a statement. “Now that story is not only a vital chapter in American history, it resonates in our present-day struggles against social injustice.”
  • The film is a moving testament to the loss of a young man’s life and to the people who rose up to protest this terrible injustice,” Rich Homberg, the president and CEO of Detroit Public TV, said in a statement. “It speaks more loudly now than ever about the contemporary issues in race relations that we are still struggling to cope with.”
  • Homberg added that they are “honored and grateful” to receive recognition from the Library of Congress. He also congratulated everyone involved in creating the documentary, OneDetroit reported.
  • The NFR selects 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” films each year to restore and preserve for the public. It is is run by the National Film Preservation Board, which “works to ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s film heritage.”

Other details: The documentary was restored as part of the 40th anniversary of Chin’s death and was later featured at the New York Film Festival.

  • The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1989. It received a Peabody Award in 1990 and a Silver Baton from the Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Awards in 1981.
  • Who Killed Vincent Chin?” joins two other films included this year that tackle “racially-motivated violence against people of color”: “The Murder of Fred Hampton” (1971) and “Requiem-29” (1970), according to the Library of Congress.
  • Marvel’s “Eternals” director Chloé Zhao will executive produce an upcoming drama series based on the murder of Vincent Chin, as NextShark previously reported.
  • A PBS program is also currently being planned to further explore the Vincent Chin case in Detroit in June, according to OneDetroit. The program will reportedly include a screening of the documentary and will also investigate the case’s “many political ramifications and the current surge of violent assaults against Asian Americans in this country.”

Featured Image via American Citizens of Justice (left),  Gip3798 (CC BY-SA 4.0) (right)

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