Review: Vincent Who?

August 22, 2010

Directed by Tony Lam

The brutal beating death of Vincent Chin in Detroit in 1982 galvanized students, activists and citizens across Asian America. Vincent Who? is a followup to the 1987 documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? and was inspired by town hall meetings organized by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress on the 25th anniversary of his death. When the filmmakers interview current college students about the Vincent Chin case, no one is able to give a clear answer; this is used as a means to question where the Asian American movement is today. The film is rooted in compelling interviews with powerhouses such as activist/journalist Helen Zia and civil rights attorney Dale Minami, balanced with the voices of younger activists, students and politicians. Zia and Minami suggest that Asian American activists have made a large impact through policymaking. The next generation claims that activism doesn’t have to come in the form of protests but through less visible acts such as teaching and journalism. The film also touches on hate crimes against South Asians and Arab Americans after 9/11. Archival video footage and newspaper clippings serve as painful reminders of how hate crimes damage a community and, at the same time, can bring people together to seek justice.

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it's a terribly flat doc without any distinct narrative. in a way, it's reflective of some of the interviewees who only had a vague notion of who vincent chin was.
I first learned about Vincent Chin from the "Who Killed Vincent Chin?" documentary in an Asian American studies class, so I really want to see this. Vincent Chin was more than a story of suffering. The valiant efforts for justice from his mother, Helen Zia and the overall Asian American community brought Asian Americans together and proved we are not a silent minority that will passively tolerate anyone's shit. It really is a shame that people do not know more about him. His legacy should be required in schools.