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Look Forward and Carry on the Past: Stories from Philadelphia's Chinatown

Film by Barry Dornfeld, Debora Kodish, Debbie Wei
Produced by Asian Americans United, Philadelphia Folklore Project and Barry Dornfeld
Cinematographer: Barry Dornfeld with Ming Chau and Ron Kanter
Sound: James Yoo and Debora Kodish
Editing: Barry Dornfeld and Debora Kodish with Debbie Wei
Copyright: 2002, Philadelphia Folklore Project
26 minutes, Color
Original format: DV Mini, 2002
More Film Facts
Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to Barry Dornfeld, Debora Kodish, Debbie Wei or to the distributor, Philadelphia Folklore Project.


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Look Forward and Carry on the Past: Stories from Philadelphia’s Chinatown illustrates the strength and complexity of Philadelphia’s only remaining community of color in the city’s center. The documentary attends to the role of folk arts and community cultural expression in the community’s continuing struggles for respect and survival. Touching on community efforts to stop a stadium from being built in the neighborhood (one of many fights over land grabs and “development”), and on other occasions when the community comes together (including Mid-Autumn Festival and New Year), the documentary attends to the everyday interactions, relationships, and labor—so often overlooked—that build and defend endangered communities. The film is a collaboration between Asian Americans United, The Philadelphia Folklore Project, and Barry Dornfeld.

An insiders’ view of Philadelphia’s Chinatown and the inspiring ways in which cultural practices have been adapted in a besieged yet vibrant community.—Ruthanne Lum McCunn, Author, Thousand Pieces of Gold

Philadelphia’s Chinatown is a precious resource for many people in the entire Atlantic Coast region. It has a long and rich history and deserves a continuing place in our geography and in our hearts. Watch and learn!—Franklin Odo, former Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

A portrait of a living, breathing community, vibrant with the shared hopes and dreams of generations of old and new Americans who have always embraced Chinatown as home and who long for the day when basic struggles for recognition are a thing of the past.—Lise Yasui, Academy award-winning filmmaker, A Family Gathering


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