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Amy Chen's acclaimed new documentary The Chinatown Files reveals the hidden story of Chinese-American men and women who were hunted down, jailed, and targeted for deportation during the Cold War hysteria of the 1950's and l960's. Their interviews are interwoven with rare home movies, photographs and archival films exploring the prejudice and xenophobia surrounding U.S.-China relations.
During the McCarthy era witchhunts, the loyalties of over ten thousand American citizens of Chinese descent were questioned based on their ethnicity and alleged risk to national security. Henry Chin, a laundry worker and president of the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance and the China Daily News, describes how "Chinese immigrants came to America for a better life for themselves and the loved ones they left behind in their impoverished villages." Yet for sending money home, his friends were charged by the U.S. government for trading with the enemy and his life was shattered by constant FBI surveillance and harassment. Other people featured in the film include several members of Mun Ching, the Chinese American Democratic Youth League in San Francisco who were harassed by the FBI. Several agents speak candidly of the FBI objectives in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York.
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