VINCENT WHO? 

directed by Tony Lam

Documentary Feature | 2009 | USA | 40 min | English


In 1982, at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments arising from massive layoffs in the auto industry, a Chinese-American named Vincent Chin was murdered in Detroit by two white autoworkers. Chin's killers, however, got off with a $3,000 fine and 3 years probation, but no jail time. Outraged by this injustice, Asian Americans around the country united for the first time across ethnic and socioeconomic lines to form a pan-Asian identity and civil rights movement.

Among its significant outcomes, the movement led to the historic broadening of federal civil rights protection to include all people in America regardless of immigrant status or ethnicity.

VINCENT WHO? explores this important legacy through interviews with the key players at the time as well as a whole new generation of activists whose lives were impacted by Vincent Chin. It also looks at the case in relation to the larger narrative of Asian American history, in such events as Chinese Exclusion, Japanese American Internment in WWII, the 1992 L.A. Riots, anti-Asian hate crimes, and post-9/11 racial profiling.

Ultimately, VINCENT WHO? asks how far Asian Americans have come since the case and how far they have yet to go.


Tony Lam is an independent filmmaker with over a decade of experience in multimedia production, including producing, directing, cinematography, videography, editing, and screenwriting.

Tony's best known work is VINCENT WHO?, an award-winning documentary he directed about the murder case that gave rise to the Asian American civil rights movement. This film has screened in hundreds of venues throughout the country and can be found increasingly in college curriculums. VINCENT WHO? explores the powerful legacy of the Vincent Chin killing. In 1982, at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments in the United States, two white autoworkers in Detroit beat Vincent Chin to death with a baseball bat. The perpetrators, however, were let off with a $3,000 fine and no jail time. Galvanized by this injustice, Asian Americans around the country united collectively for the first time to fight for their civil rights. VINCENT WHO? explores this momentous chapter in American civil rights history through interviews with the key players at the time as well as a new generation of activists impacted by Vincent's story.


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