Departures: 'Chinatown' Explores the Role of Iconic L.A. Destination Through a Century of Chinese Migration

Link to download press release: Departures Chinatown.doc

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To tourists or the uninitiated in Los Angeles, Chinatown appears to offer a kitschy glimpse Chinese culture - paper lanterns strung across buildings designed to replicate traditional architecture and cheap plastic trinkets for sale in dozens of shops. These first impressions dissolve quickly for anyone curious enough to do some exploring. With the launch of Departures "Chinatown," KCET offers an invitation to experience this vibrant cultural destination as part of its ongoing Web-exclusive series of neighborhood portraits.

Chinatown's rich history and dynamic present come to life through the voices and experiences of community members, activists, students and historians. Produced in association with the Chinese American Museum and Chinatown Service Center Youth Council, Departures "Chinatown" takes a look this iconic locale and its role within a cultural community that extends from the heart of Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley. 

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The influx of Chinese from Canton and later migrants from Southeast Asia and Taiwan (among other places) has created multiple layers to the story of what it means to be a Chinese American in Los Angeles. Among the hundreds of participants helping to tell this story in Departures "Chinatown" are Suellen Cheng, Museum Director and Curator of El Pueblo Historical Monument, who discusses early arrivals of Chinese to Los Angeles, a produce strike initiated by courageous Chinese business owners and discrimination faced by Chinese residents; Congresswoman Judy Chu, who talks about her decision to enter politics, the ever-changing demographics between districts in Los Angeles and her experiences as a business owner; the late community activist Irvin Lai, who explains, in his very last interview, how Chinese Americans endured a civil rights struggle during the onset of World War II and his fight to rescind a ban on cooking traditional Chinese orange duck; plus interviews with gallery owners, journalists and many more.

Each Departures
journey begins by traversing a digital panorama filled with images of familiar
sights and hidden gems. Visitors can click on icons and delve deeper into
stories and visuals, including interactive slide shows and video profiles.
Executive producer is Juan Devis, KCET New Media Director.

Support for Departures comes from Adobe Youth Voices, Boeing and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.



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