Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians, Raya and the Last Dragon) is partnering with various other AAPI creatives to produce an audio table-read of Hold Still, Vincent, a screenplay about the racially motivated murder of Vincent Chin, The Hollywood Reporter reports.
Chan, production company A-Major Media and representation firm M88 hope to also produce a companion podcast about Asian American civil rights as well as an eventual feature film adaptation of Hold Still, Vincent, which was written by Johnny Ngo.
The murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 marked a turning point in the history of Asian American civil rights, galvanizing a pan-Asian movement to defend the rights of the AAPI community in the U.S. In Detroit, Mich., two white men beat Chin to death during his own bachelor party, four days before his wedding. They had mistaken Chin, a Chinese American, to be Japanese, claiming, “It’s because of you little motherf—ers that we’re out of work” during the assault. They were referring to the competition between the American and Japanese auto industries.
After Chin’s murder, the two men were simply fined $3000 and received three years of probation.
The lack of punitive action sparked outrage among the Chinese and broader Asian community in Detroit and nationally. This led to the first time the Civil Rights Act was applied to an Asian American in court after a push to have the case tried in federal courts.
While one of the killers was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in jail, his sentence was overturned upon retrial, and both killers were ultimately cleared of all federal charges.
For members of the project, telling Chin’s story was important now than ever.
“Vincent’s death occurred during a dark time in America’s history with unsettling parallels to what we have seen happen over the past year with the stoking of hatred towards Asians and the scapegoating of Asians for Covid-19,” Chan said in a statement. “It feels more urgent than ever to tell Vincent’s story.”
Aaron and Winston Tao, slated to be directors of the feature film adaptation of the screenplay, released a joint statement on the personal significance of the project. “Vincent Chin’s story is more than a podcast or film to us,” they said. “It’s a cultural landmark in our nation’s history, turning the tide for Asian American civil rights. This is a story to remind our community of how we gained the confidence to collectively say, ‘We’re here. We’re proud of who we are. And we’re not going anywhere.’”
Other organizations involved in the project include podcast studio QCODE, Automatik Entertainment and nonprofit Gold House.
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