S. Leo Chiang is an independent documentarian. His Emmy® Award-nominated film, A Village Called Versailles, about the rebuilding and transformation of the Vietnamese American community in post-Katrina New Orleans, picked up eight film festival awards, aired on PBS Independent Lens series, and has been acquired by more than 200 libraries. His most recent documentary, Out Run, which profiles the only LGBT political party in the world, premiered at the 2016 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and won Best Cinematography at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. His other films include Mr. Cao Goes to Washington (Inspiration Award 2012, PBS broadcast 2013), To You Sweetheart, Aloha (PBS broadcast 2006), One + One (CINE Golden Eagle Award 2002), and Safe Journey (PlanetOut.com Short Movie Award 2002).
Leo also collaborates with other filmmakers both as an editor (True-Hearted Vixen, POV 2001; Recalling Orange County, PBS/VOCES 2006) and as a cameraman (United in Anger, MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight 2012; Ask Not, Independent Lens 2009; The Tailenders, POV 2006).
Born in Taiwan and based in San Francisco, Leo holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical & computer engineering and received his MFA in film production from University of Southern California. He is a fellow in the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, an artist-in-residence at Northwestern University, and an active member of New Day Films, the social-issue documentary distribution co-operative. He currently lectures in the Social Documentation program at University of California, Santa Cruz.
Films by S. Leo Chiang
Mobilizing working-class transgender hairdressers and beauty queens, the dynamic leaders of the world’s only LGBT political party wage a historic quest to elect a trans woman to the Philippine Congress.
Bill Tapia, a 94-year-old Hawaiian jazz pioneer, gave up on music—thinking that life wasn’t really worth much after his wife of 63 years and his only daughter passed away within two years of each other. But when he befriends 26-year-old Alyssa, a Hapa-Hawaiian woman with a special connection to Bill’s past, he rediscovers his musical passion and youthful spirit. He begins a gripping journey back to his full potential, as a musician and as a man living an active life despite his advanced age and failing body.
What happens when the naiveté of a political rookie clashes with the realities of racial politics of the American South and ultra-partisan struggles in Washington DC?
One + One is a powerful film about serodiscordant couples (of mixed HIV status) living with HIV and AIDS.
A Village Called Versailles is an Emmy-nominated documentary about Versailles, an isolated community in eastern New Orleans that has been settled by Vietnamese boat people since the late 1970s. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Vietnamese American residents in Versailles impressively rise to the challenges by returning and rebuilding before any other flooded neighborhood in New Orleans, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill just two miles away. A Village Called Versailles recounts the empowering story of how this group of people, who has already suffered so much in their lifetime, turns a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance for a better future.