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East of Occidental: The History of Seattle's Chinatown (film)

Documentary film on Seattle's Chinatown/ International District that outlines the history of the area and argues that pan-Asian Americanism makes it unique among American ethnic enclaves. The film includes the story of the mass removal of Japanese Americans from the area and their subsequent incarceration during World War II.

The film begins by briefly covering the history of the three main ethnic groups who made the area their home: Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and Filipino Americans through interviews with community leaders and historians and historical photographs. The film treats each group separately, noting the similarities and differences between them and the discrimination each faced. While World War II brought the exclusion of Japanese Americans—described in interviews with Shigeko Uno and Shiro Kashino—it also opened up opportunities for Chinese and Filipino Americans. The postwar era brought an end to much residential segregation, allowing many Asian Americans to leave the area to settle in other parts of the city. But these new opportunities led to the decline of the Chinatown area, which was exacerbated by the construction of a freeway and the Kingdome sports complex. But the threat of the area's demise led to a resurgence of activism among Asian American groups—now acting as one rather than separately—that led to a revival of the area.

Completed in 1986, East of Occidental was written and directed by Maria Gargiulo and produced by Lucy Ostrander. Funders for the film included the Seattle-Chinatown International District Preservation & Development Authority, the Washington Commission for the Humanities, the Seattle Arts Commission, and the Washington State Arts Commission.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like From a Different Shore: An American Identity (1994); Crossroads in Nihonmachi (2006); Crossroads: Boyle Heights (2002)

Media Details
Release Date 1986
Runtime 29 minutes
Director Maria Gargiulo
Producer Lucy Ostrander
Writer Maria Gargiulo
Narrator John Gilbert
Starring Fred Cordova (interviewee), Ben Woo (interviewee), Shigeko Uno (interviewee), Dolores Sibonga (interviewee), Ruby Chow (interviewee), Frank Chin (interviewee), Shiro Kashino (interviewee)
Music John Gordon Hill
Cinematography John Gordon Hill
Editing Maria Gargiulo
Studio Hill Film, Inc. & Prairie Fire Pictures
Distributor Stourwater Pictures
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