Curtis Chin isn’t comfortable with sitting still for too long.
He likes to keep working on projects in various mediums.
For the last year, Chin has traveled the world with his short film, “Dear Corky.”
It’s been a busy journey, but one that has Chin thankful.
“We’ve had a pretty good run so far,” Chin says. “I have a few more festival events that I can’t talk about yet, but it’s been eye opening.”
“Dear Corky” will screen at 10:40 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, as part of the Albuquerque Chinese American Film Festival. Chin will also participate in a panel discussion beginning at 12:45 p.m.
“Dear Corky” tells the story of Corky Lee, who photographed New York’s Chinatown and Asian American communities around the country.
Chin created the film to tell Lee’s story as he fought for social justice.
Lee died of COVID in January 2021. He was 73.
Chin says “Dear Corky” came out of a larger project which was taking a look at Chinatowns across the United States as they faced pressures of gentrification and overcrowdedness.
“When COVID hit, we shut down production,” Chin says. “Corky was one of the subjects and he died. It was sad because he was a wonderful person and I saw the work he had done. It just felt like we needed to get his story out there.”
The film has played in dozens of venues across the world and Chin is excited to bring Lee’s story to a wider audience.
“The level of engagement at the film festivals has felt amazing,” Chin says. “I grew up in Detroit and there’s a small Asian community. It wasn’t easy to grow up there and have a sense of identity. It would have been great to have a film festival like the ones the film has screened at. On the flip side of that, when you grow up without the culture near you, one has to go the extra mile to understand identity.”
Chin says the screenings of “Dear Corky” have been emotional at every stop.
“Corky’s is only one story of the hard work that has been going on for decades,” Chin says. “The film brings his story to light, but there are so many others that are out there who have fought or are still fighting.”
Chin recently sold his memoir, “Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant” to Little, Brown (Fall 2023). The book is about growing up Asian American in the Black and white city of Detroit, and coming out in his working-class immigrant community.