Archives / 1989 Sundance Film Festival

Who Killed Vincent Chin?

Director: Christine Choy, Renee Tajima

Institute History

Description

Who Killed Vincent Chin? is a film rich in paradox. To begin with, its title is ironic: Vincent Chin’s murderer is known, and to an extent has accepted responsibility.l But identifying “who” is not the incisive point of this complex and ambitious documentary “about” a young Chinese American who is clubbed to death by a white man. Instead the filmmakers, Christine Choy and Renee Tajima, chart the sudden collision of two American dreams outside a topless bar one hot Detroit night in 1982, and describe the labyrinthine course that justice, susceptible to competing pressures, pursues over the next four years. Vincent Chin is a film with no easy answers and broad implications.

Revealing interviews with the victim’s inconsolable mother, and with Ron Ebens, the middle-aged killer, and his wife and stepson, are integrated into newsreel and archival footage syncopated to some of Motown’s own sounds. this subtly constructed film embeds a single, awful incident within the turbulent social network of an America so deep in change that even its citizens, fearful of unemployment and wary of other races, don’t understand what is happening.

— Larry Kardish

Screening Details

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