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Who Killed Vincent Chin? is an Academy Award–nominated film that serves as a powerful statement about racism in working-class America. The 1987 documentary recounts the stark facts surrounding the brutal murder of Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese American man. Chin was celebrating his last days of bachelorhood in a Detroit bar when an argument broke out between him and two white autoworkers: Ronald Ebens, a Chrysler Motors foreman, and his stepson, Michael Nitz. After Ebens shouted ethnic insults at Chin, the fight moved outside, and before onlookers, Ebens bludgeoned Chin to death with a baseball bat. In the ensuing trials, both Ebens and Nitz were let off with a suspended sentence and a small fine. Outrage over the murder and the lenient sentence for Chin’s killers ignited an unprecedented civil rights protest across the Asian American community, led by Lily Chin, the bereaved mother of Vincent. Brought up to be self-effacing, she successfully inspired a nationwide movement that led to a retrial. This tragic story addresses pressing social issues including the failure of the American judicial system to value every citizen's rights equally, the collapse of the automobile industry under pressure from Japanese imports, and the souring of the American dream for the blue-collar worker. Widely acclaimed by the press, Who Killed Vincent Chin? is an unforgettable film that remains crucial in understanding the evolution of Asian American activism.


1989 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary (Feature)


Join us for a screening of Who Killed Vincent Chin? along with a conversation featuring prominent activists on the lasting legacy of Chin’s death.


This program is presented by Asia Society Museum and Asia Society Southern California, as part of a new series titled Asia Society at the Movies. Asia Society at the Movies showcases a broad range of films and filmmakers from across Asia and the Asian diaspora.


This program is co-presented with Asian CineVision.


  • Year
    1987
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Christine Choy, Renee Tajima-Peña