The Chinese Exclusion Act | 2018

Directed by Ric Burns & Li-Shin Yu
130 min

Sun Jun 3 | 2 PM

Examine the origin, history and impact of the 1882 law that made it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America and for Chinese nationals already in the U.S. to become U.S. citizens as the first anti-immigration law based on race. The first in a long line of acts targeting the Chinese and subsequent Asian ethnicities for exclusion, it remained in force for more than 60 years and was used as a bargaining chip allowing for the early end of the Reconstruction period and institutionalized racism across communities of color in the U.S. and especially the South through Jim Crow laws.

Language English

Country of Origin USA

Genre Documentary Feature


Ric Burns

Six-time Emmy Award-winning director Ric Burns has been creating historical documentaries for public television for over 20 years. He began his career co-writing and producing the celebrated PBS series The Civil War (1990) with his brother Ken and Geoffrey C. Ward, and has since directed over 30 hours of award-winning films. Among his body of work are some of some of the most distinguished programs in the public television series American Experience and American Masters. 2015 saw the release three films by Burns: American Ballet Theatre: A History, which chronicles the rich history and legacy of America’s only national ballet company, Debt of Honor, which examines how the American government and society have regarded disabled veterans throughout history, and The Pilgrims which brings to life the story of the men and women of the Mayflower, uncovering the forces, circumstances, personalities and events that converged to propel their crossing to the New World.  Burns was educated at Columbia University and Cambridge University. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.


Li-Shin Yu

Li-Shin Yu, a New York-based film editor, has collaborated with Director Ric Burns for the past twenty-three years and is co-directing The Chinese Exclusion Act.  Yu and Burns are best known for their epic series NEW YORK: a documentary film, an eight-part production chronicling the city’s rise from a remote Dutch outpost to the cultural and economic center of the world, for which Yu received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Editing.  Their most recent film The Pilgrims, brings to life the story of the men and women of the Mayflower with a stunning performance by the late actor Roger Rees as William Bradford.  Yu’s other films with Burns include: Enquiring Minds: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer, Death and the Civil War, Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World, We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision, Andy Warhol, Eugene O’Neill, Ansel Adams, and The Way West.  Their films have garnered multiple awards including Emmys, Peabodys, Writer’s Guild of America, Dupont-Columbia awards amongst many others.  Yu began her career collaborating with other New York independent filmmakers including Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, Sara Driver and Peter Wang and more recently with documentarians Christine Choy, Bill Moyers, Thomas Lennon and Stanley Nelson amongst others.


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