A RIVETING AND RARE ASIAN AMERICAN SOCIAL JUSTICE STORY
THAT CUTS ACROSS ALL CULTURES
"Unquestionably the best docudrama that illustrates the most heinous hate crime in the 20th century against a Chinese American on the eve of his wedding.”
Corky Lee, Photojournalist (Vincent Chin Case)
ABOUT THE FILM
A brutal case of bloodshed, a mother’s gut-wrenching loss, and a community’s outrage, Justice For Vincent (JFV) is an intensely disturbing yet inspiring modern story about race told from a rarely seen Asian American perspective. The award-winning short film is based on the historic Vincent Chin case that sparked the first nationwide Pan-Asian civil rights movement in America.
Mistaken for being Japanese, Chinese American citizen Chin was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat days before his wedding by two autoworkers during the so-called “Japanese Auto Invasion” in Detroit 1982 — a crime that saw the murderers walk away with a mere $3000 fine and three-year probation.
Archival images of the Chin case featured in the film were graciously provided by real life activists Helen Zia, Stewart Kwoh, and photojournalist Corky Lee.
Disclaimer: JFV is a dramatic adaptation. Certain dialogue, events, and characters in the film were created for the purposes of dramatization.
Duration: 17 min
This film has not been rated, but contains violence and coarse language not suitable for children.
IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Asian World Film Festival 2018
Los Angeles, October 24 - November 1
Top 5 Young Filmmaker Showcase
Young Filmmaker Award
Cinema WorldFest Awards 2018
Ottawa, September - November Autumn Selection
Award of Merit Human Interest Short (Winner)
Asians On Film Festival of Shorts 2019
Los Angeles, January 19-20
Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival 2019
Los Angeles, February 13-22
Best Dramatic Short Film (Winner)
Oregon Short Film Festival 2019
Portland, February 22-24
Best Picture (Winner)
DisOrient Asian American Film Festival 2019
Eugene, March 14-17
Audience Choice Short Film (Winner)
World Premiere Film Awards 2019
Ottawa, January to March Winter Selection
Best Actor - Lawrence Chau (Winner)
Best Supporting Actress - Lee Chen (Winner)
Philadelphia Independent Film Festival 2019
Philadelphia, May 8-11
Best Short Film (Winner)
Best Actor - Lawrence Chau (Nomination)
Best Actress - Lee Chen (Nomination)
American Asian Latino Film Festival NYC
New York City, May 17-19
Best Script - Lawrence Chau (Winner)
Best Cinematography - Justin Janowitz (Winner)
London International Motion Picture Awards 2019
London, May 24-25
The Telly Awards
New York City, May 2019
Silver Winner for Creative Excellence
General Social Issues
DC Asian Pacific International Film Festival 2019
Washington DC, May 31-Jun 2
Los Angeles Film Awards
Los Angeles, May 2019
Best Narrative Short - Lawrence Chau & Andy Palmer (Winners)
Annual Best of Fest Best Narrative Short - Lawrence Chau & Andy Palmer (Nomination)
Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival
HAAPIFEST 2019 in conjunction with OCA Greater Houston
Houston, June 20-28
Palm Springs Best Shorts Competition
Palm Springs, June 2019
Award of Excellence: Special Mention Film Short - Andy Palmer & Lawrence Chau (Winners)
Award of Excellence: Asian Film Category - Andy Palmer & Lawrence Chau (Winners)
Award of Merit: Leading Actress - Lee Chen (Winner)
Stage 32: 4th Annual Short Film Contest
Los Angeles, June 2019
Screenwriter - Lawrence Chau (Finalist)
Hong Kong Film Art International Film Festival 2019
Hong Kong, July 4-7
Olympus Film Festival 2019
Los Angeles, July 2019
Best Narrative Short (Finalist)
Best Actor - Lawrence Chau (Finalist)
Oregon Cinema Arts Film Festival 2019
Portland, August 10-11
Best Actor - Peter Adrian Sudarso (Winner)
New York Film Awards
New York City, July 2019
Best Narrative Film - Lawrence Chau & Andy Palmer (Winners)
Best Original Story - Lawrence Chau & Andy Palmer (Winners)
Annual Best of Fest Best Narrative Short - Lawrence Chau & Andy Palmer (Nomination)
Boston Asian American Film Festival 2019
Boston, October 24-27
Innovasian Film, Screenplay & Music Contest 2019
Los Angeles, November 8
Vancouver Asian Film Festival 2019
Vancouver, November 7-10
Canada Shorts - Canadian & International Short Film Festival
Canada, December 2019
92nd Academy Awards
Live Action Short Film - Oscar Qualified
Museum of the Moving Image NYC
Activist Filmmaking: JFV Screening & Guest Panel Speaker
New York City, May 24, 2019
FOURWALLED Theatrical Screening
Laemmle NoHo 7
North Hollywood, July 26-August 1, 2019
21 Pell St
Two Films on Justice: 24-Hour Work Day & Justice For Vincent
New York City, Sun Sep 15 @ 3 pm
Director of Photography
Vincent Chin Henry Lee Roger Evans Mickey Stevens Patricia Ashwood
Judge Arthur Hellerman
Officer Williams Officer Santiago
Background Casting By
1st Assistant Director
2nd Assistant Director
Visual Effects Producer
Key Set Costumer
Hair & Makeup/Special Effects
Special Effects Makeup Artist
Key Set P.A. Background P.A.
Craft Services P.A.
1st Assistant Camera
2nd Assistant Camera
2nd Assistant Camera/DIT
Best Boy Electric
Camera Equipment & Lighting
Graciously Provided By
Peter Adrian Sudarso
Lon J. Fiala
Ell (Rachel) Li
Morgue N. Marcus/
Little Bird Casting
David F. Murray
Kurt Nolen S.O.C.
Marcos R. Perezcarro
DC Stages & Sets
Spitfire Lighting & Grip
Legends Car Rentals
NBC.com/Asian Amercians Advancing Justice
Alphawood Galleries/American Citizens for Justice
Honolulu Star Bulletin
The Honolulu Advertiser
The Guardian-US Edition/Evan Agostini/Getty Images
From Lawrence Chau - JFV Filmmaker
Unbeknown to most, the late great Elizabeth Sung (The Joy Luck Club, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Young and the Restless) was the first person to join the cast of JFV. Elizabeth had lived through the Vincent Chin case, and like everyone, was mortified by both the tragic murder and the travesty of the justice system. Her signing on to portray Lily Chin was needless to say a big get. She, like the rest of the cast and crew, did so because she understood the historical significance of the story and the importance of sharing it with a new generation of audiences, particularly younger Asian Americans not familiar with the case. Having Elizabeth on-board inspired us to raise the bar even higher. Sadly, weeks before the cameras were to roll, Elizabeth fell ill and had to opt-out. Impassioned about seeing JFV through, she committed to helping us find a replacement. That came by way of her friend Lee Chen. Lee carried the spirit of Elizabeth with her and delivered a searing performance that would make our dear friend gleam with pride from above. I will always remember what Elizabeth said to me at our first encounter when I pointedly asked: “It’s a powerful project, but are you sure someone of your stature would be interested in starring in an independent short?” She read into my concerned dollar-dilated pupils and replied: “Lawrence, I’m a filmmaker, too. Not every project is about money.” I will cherish those words forever. From all of us at JFV, thank you, dear Elizabeth.
Award-winning photojournalist Corky Lee has devoted his life to changing negative stereotypes of Asian Americans portrayed in the media through the power of his lens. From covering the Vincent Chin case to championing social and political issues that affect the rights and lives of everyday Asian Americans to ensuring that Asian American history is a part of American history, Corky has become an activist in his own right. However, the photo laureate was by no means easy to court. After a thorough preliminary interrogation ("Excuse me Corky, do you work for Robert Mueller?") and then seeing the rough cut of JFV, he was gracious in allowing us to include his photos from the Chin case in our film. Thank you for your talent, your encyclopedic knowledge, your staunch support of JFV and, of course, the newfound friendship. And thank you for keeping up the good fight. You are truly one-of-a-kind and an inspiration. Excelsior!
Attorney and lifelong activist Stewart Kwoh was another blessing. When Stewart heard of the Vincent Chin case in Los Angeles, he picked up the phone, rang Lily Chin in Detroit and simply asked: “How can I help?” When I approached him about JFV, he echoed that mantra and graciously granted us the right to use one of his archival images in our film. Henry Lee, the civil rights activist portrayed in JFV, was a composite character inspired by not only Liza Chan and, of course, the iconic Helen Zia, but also by some of the male figures involved in the case — people like Roland Hwang, James Shimoura and Kwoh, for instance. Tireless in his commitment to helping the underprivileged and under-served, Kwoh continues to advocate for civil rights, provide legal and education services and builds coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders through Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the non-profit organization he helped establish. AAAJ’s mission is simple: to create a more equitable and harmonious society for all.
I had met the inimitable Christine Choy decades ago when she showcased her Oscar-nominated documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? in Toronto. I was a student then. I sat there for 90 minutes, frozen with a lump in my throat, eyes welled with tears, and a jaw clenched in shock and anger. I carried that documentary with me for decades, and yes, I confess I always thought it would make a great film. So, to have Christine join me at a film festival in New York to watch JFV was more than a full-circle moment. Granted JFV is just a short film and not the feature I had long dreamt of making, but still: a moment is a moment. From the red carpet and screening to dinners laced with insightful, fiery conversations to evening strolls back to her home on the East Side, I have come to know what others have long known about Christine: she is a force to be reckoned with. Sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, Christine sizzles like a firecracker. Always has, always will. Thank you, Christine, for your work in activist filmmaking, for being a mentor of the arts, for your wisdom and courage, and for being a pioneer and inspiration.
When your childhood summers are afflicted with altercations with racist neighbors; when, at age 7, you see your old brother bullied on the playground; when, from out of the blue, you get called “chink” whilst crossing the street as a kid; when you transition from a culturally diverse high school to a predominately-white journalism school where your peers often don't speak or sit near you; when you learn and come to appreciate the hardships your parents endured as immigrants; and when you see a riveting documentary like Who Killed Vincent Chin? during your formative years, you can’t help but become race conscious.
Learning about the racial injustice of the Vincent Chin case affected me in a profoundly personal level. Like many, I was pained and haunted by it. Moreover, in seeing Vincent's mother Lily, I saw my own mother. Both were Chinese immigrants from the same small county in the province of Guangdong; both immigrated to North America to marry with the simple aspirations of raising a family in working class Chinatown; and yes, with their broken Kaiping-accented English, they both even sounded alike. Not to draw a false equivalency in any way, but my mother, too, had to navigate an intensely stressful legal battle in a confusing new land where she had sacrificed so much to call "home."
Throughout my accomplishments in show business in Asia and North America, the Vincent Chin story had always churned in my gut, literally for decades. I had always thought it would make a great feature film. I know I'm not the only one.
Justice For Vincent may not be the feature I had long dreamt of making, however, in its short format, it might very well be one of the few -- if not -- first cinematic adaptions to materialize in all these 30-plus years since the crime. With JFV, I make no qualms in declaring it to be a docudrama "based on" the true story of Vincent Chin.
When it comes to adaptations, creative embellishments are always undertaken to tell a story, often for dramatic effect. We've seen this happen with countless projects on rock stars, The Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe and The Royal Family, to name a few. In doing so, filmmakers agonize over a myriad of details: plotlines, points of view, characters, dialogue, elements of fiction, which scenes make the final cut and which scenes get left on the cutting room floor. It is truly an excruciating process.
I make a point of explaining this because the Asian American community does not bear the good fortune of having many (if any) major Hollywood social justice films in comparison to, say, our African American, Jewish and native counterparts. As such, some members of the AA community might understandably be guarded about the Chin story and not accustomed to seeing it adapted for the silver screen with creative modifications.
I can only say that in making the JFV, our intention was pure. Everyone who came on board gravitated to the power of the story and recognized its universal, timely appeal. It is a solid, high caliber production from top to bottom that hits the heart, provokes the mind and stirs the soul. I am humbled at how well it has been received by audiences from across the country and abroad.
More importantly, the message of JFV is clear: a mother's loss is a mother's loss; hate is hate; injustice is injustice. As a first time filmmaker, and with a project like JFV, my wish is simple: to enlighten and to inspire compassion and understanding in people from all walks of life. Only by standing together, shoulder-to-shoulder, can we successfully combat the divisive forces of hate and injustice that threaten our collective safety, security and civility.