EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning Nomadland director Chloé Zhao will help bring the overlooked tragedy of Vincent Chin’s murder and the subsequent civil rights case to TV as she boards Participant’s limited scripted series as an executive producer.
Participant’s upcoming series, which is in development through an exclusive agreement with the Chin estate and executor Helen Zia, will be the only authorized telling of the watershed civil rights case following the 1982 murder.
In the summer of 1982, the Chinese American engineer was assaulted at a bar and murdered by two white disgruntled autoworkers, who assumed Chin was of Japanese descent and blamed him for Japan’s success in the automotive world and for stealing their jobs. He was murdered just four days before his wedding.
Chin’s killers were given lenient sentences of probation and minimal fines. His murder sparked widespread outrage in America and thrust Asian American communities into the limelight and the nation’s raging debates on race. With exclusive access from this pivotal moment in Asian American history, the series will reveal the definitive account of a civil rights movement that matters today more than ever, when a community discovered its voice.
“I was deeply moved by Helen’s personal connection to Vincent’s story as well as her incredibly insightful and nuanced perspective on this difficult yet inspiring story,” Zhao said. “I’m very honored to join the team and to embark on this journey together.”
The Eternals helmer will executive produce alongside the creative team of Zia, Vicangelo Bulluck, Paula Madison and Donald Young. Zia is a former autoworker-turned-journalist who became a national organizer and the spokesperson for the Justice for Vincent Chin Campaign, as well as executor of the Chin Estate. Miura Kite, SVP of Global TV, will oversee the series on behalf of Participant.
“Chloé Zhao has the vision and sensitivity to unpack the complexities of racism, hate, violence and injustice. We are eager for Chloé’s insights into the multilayered story of Vincent Chin, who was killed in Detroit as it faced economic collapse, where Asian immigrants were unwelcome yet struggled for legitimacy, where masculinity and homophobia added to the toxic brew of communities in conflict–and where people came together to fight for the humanity of Vincent and all people. We can’t overstate how enthused we are that Chloé Zhao has joined our project,” said Zia.
Added David Linde, CEO of Participant: “Chloé is an incredible filmmaker and we are so fortunate that she will be lending her talents to this project. We could not have asked for a better creative team to tell Vincent’s story and honor his legacy in an impactful way.”
Zhao joins the project amid an exciting year which saw two Oscar wins for Nomadland, for best picture and best director, and her Marvel debut with the star-studded Eternals. Her feature debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Her sophomore feature, The Rider, premiered at Directors Fortnight at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was awarded the Art Cinema Award. For Nomadland, Zhao also received the 2020 Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion and honors at the Golden Globe, BAFTA, DGA, PGA Awards .
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