Documentary on Chinese immigrant experience rings true today

  • The Chiu family -- Edwin Chiu, Charles Chiu, Caliya Chiu and Baldwin Chiu -- visiting the grave of Charles Chiu's father, KC Lou, for the first time in Cleveland, Mississippi. The documentary short "Finding Cleveland," connecting Charles Chiu's search for his father to immigrant issues, will be shown in April at Naper Settlement.

    The Chiu family -- Edwin Chiu, Charles Chiu, Caliya Chiu and Baldwin Chiu -- visiting the grave of Charles Chiu's father, KC Lou, for the first time in Cleveland, Mississippi. The documentary short "Finding Cleveland," connecting Charles Chiu's search for his father to immigrant issues, will be shown in April at Naper Settlement. Courtesy of the Chiu family

 
By Emma Vodick
Naper Settlement
Posted3/23/2017 12:02 PM

The award-winning documentary short "Finding Cleveland: A Documentary Film Where Far East Meets Deep South" will make a stop at Naper Settlement in early April as part of a national tour. Naperville is one of only two Chicago-area locations to see the movie.

"Finding Cleveland," by husband-and-wife filmmakers Baldwin Chiu and Larissa Lam, follows Charles Chiu, left behind in China as a baby, on his search for the father he never knew. With his family, Chiu ventures on an emotional journey to Cleveland, Mississippi, where he finds familial roots and a part of American history that is little told.

 

To be shown at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at 523 S. Webster St., Naperville, the 13-minute film speaks to the importance of knowing one's history and the role museums play in preserving and sharing the past.

After the showing, a panel featuring the filmmakers, museum experts and historians will discuss its themes.

Admission is free, but seating is limited. Reservations are recommended. For information, visit napersettlement.org or call (630) 420-6010.

"What started out as a quest to discover our family history led to our discovery of the racism that existed in the pre-Civil Rights South amid the Chinese Exclusion Act," Baldwin Chiu said. "This film documents the resolve of the early Chinese immigrants to overcome the challenges of the time."

The issues facing the Chinese in the Mississippi Delta in the early- to mid-1900s still exist for immigrants and the Chinese in America today. "Finding Cleveland" sparks conversation about what we can learn from the past to bring more understanding into today's society.

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"The film and the issues that it presents are important pieces of history that echo through time and are particularly relevant today," said Donna Sack, Naper Settlement's vice president for community engagement and audience.

"We are so glad that Naperville resident Esther Wong brought the story to our attention. Through her connections to the filmmakers, Naper Settlement, along with a showing in Chinatown, are the only locations to debut the film in the Chicago metropolitan area."

Larissa Lam is an award-winning singer/songwriter. She composed the musical score for the film and performs regularly across the country. Chiu is also a rap artist who performs as Only Won.