A Chinese-American family’s search for their roots leads them to the Mississippi Delta, where they stumble upon surprising family revelations and uncover the racially complex history of early Chinese immigrants in the midst of segregation and the Chinese Exclusion Act era.

"Its intimate, as-it-happened cinéma-vérité style draws you in, and soon this family trip takes the twists and turns of a compelling detective story. A surprising, sobering history lesson, it is painfully relevant at a time when anti-Asian hate is on the rise."

The Boston Globe
Synopsis: 

FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH sheds light on the history of Chinese immigrants in the American South and the discrimination they faced during the late 1800s to mid-1900s through the emotional journey of Charles Chiu and his family as they travel from California to Mississippi to find answers about Charles’ father, K.C. Lou. With the help of local residents and historians, the family learns about the interconnected relationship between the Black and Chinese communities in the Jim Crow era and the impact of restrictive immigration policies that kept their family apart for generations. Through a series of stunning discoveries at the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum and the National Archives, the Chiu family also uncover how deep their roots run in America. This unforgettable story offers a poignant perspective on race, immigration, and American identity. 

The film features notable leaders, authors and historians such as U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, Dr. Gordon Chang, Dr. Jane Hong, Dr. John Jung, Dr. Robert Voss, Tyree Boyd-Pates and Past National President of Chinese Americans Citizens Alliance, Carolyn Chan. 

* Available with English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional and simplified) subtitles

Reviews

"The relatively short-runtime and engaging pacing make this a good film for general audiences but especially good for high school and college classroom use. The film provides a solid introduction on the history of Asian American & Pacific Islander racism and the lasting, generational harm it has and continues to cause. To paraphrase Baldwin Chiu in the film, “I took U.S. History in high school, but I never learned about this”. This film is highly recommended for academic and public collections."

Educational Media Reviews Online

“The story is beautifully presented and paced. It was touching and informative on many levels and should be widely viewed.”

Dr. Gordon H. Chang / Professor of American History, History Department, Stanford University

"It is an excellent film to offer for American History. I have always talked about the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, but this puts it in such greater context."

Dr. Tyrone Tillery/ History Professor - University of Houston

"Far East Deep South stands apart as a fascinating documentary about the contributions of early Chinese immigrants in the U.S.  It is a deeply moving retelling of the Mississippi Chinese legacy that triumphs in the face of many difficulties."

 

Kang-i Sun Chang, Malcolm G. Chace ‘56 Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Yale University

"My U.S. History students finished a unit on immigration, which included a viewing of the exceedingly well-done documentary Far East Deep South.  It was very engaging for the students.  Several students admitted to crying. One of my students told me, 'You know how you wanted to bring history alive for this course, watching the documentary Far East Deep South brought history alive for me.'"

Aaron Schermerhorn / Philomath High School

“What an amazing journey...You should warn viewers that Far East Deep South is a 10 tissue documentary. I think that this film should be required viewing in all public schools, state legislatures, and Congress!“

Julie D. Soo, Esq. / Commissioner, San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women

"Chinese immigrants in the Deep South struggle and thrive. A tale of heartbreak and tenacity in post-Reconstruction Mississippi."

Glenn Garvin - Reason

“Even though I knew about the Chinese Exclusion Act I did not realize that women and children were not allowed to come to America. History appears to be repeating. The movie was very well done and the perfect length to tell the story. “

Jan Alpert / President National Genealogy Society

“A joyous story of discovery about family, tradition and little-known American history”

Edward Douglas / The Weekend Warrior

"Informative and compelling. A poignant American Story, that lingers with you even after it’s finished."

Lauren Tuck / Creative Executive, Harpo Films

“Far East Deep South gives an entertaining and unexpected history lesson.”

Alicia Chang / Film Gone Wild
Director's Commentary: 

Growing up in California, I wanted to be blond and blue-eyed and I struggled with my identity as the daughter of Chinese immigrants. I always felt like I wasn't American enough yet I also wasn't Chinese enough. However, it wasn't until after learning about Baldwin Chiu's Chinese American family in Mississippi, that I learned more about the important contributions of early Chinese immigrants in the American South. I became a filmmaker so I could educate audiences about the role of the early Asians in American history seldom discussed in classrooms and media. I hope this will create better cross-cultural understanding and promote racial equity. So often we keep our stories to ourselves out of fear, embarrassment, or pain in rehashing the past. But it's our stories that make us human and should unite us all as immigrants or descendants of immigrants. I hope to inspire others to share their family stories and document their roots. With so many misconceptions about immigrants, I feel that this film will broaden people’s view of what it means to be American and helps to overcome racial bias. The long-term goal is that this film will help reshape how U.S. history is taught in schools so that it is more inclusive of Asians and other groups traditionally omitted from textbooks.

- LARISSA