FIRST VOTE is a rare long-form look at Asian American passions on both sides of the political divide in election battleground states Ohio and North Carolina.
Lance Chen is a Chinese immigrant and professor at the University of Dayton who became a citizen in 2016 specifically to vote Republican in Ohio. Sue Googe, also an immigrant from China, owns a real estate business and made an unsuccessful Tea Party bid for a congressional seat in North Carolina, toting an AK-47 in campaign posters.
Kaiser Kuo is a writer, musician and former Baidu executive — but he’s also an avid Democratic activist in North Carolina. Jennifer Ho is a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and brings deep understandings of racism to her teaching and worldview, lamenting that politically, “we can’t find common ground.”
Director Yi Chen allows us to hear from all of them. What would happen if they all shared a meal? We don’t find out, but we do sense how they share our common American table, in anguish and struggle — Ravi Chandra
After the screening, Q&A with Director Yi Chen and subjects Kaiser Kuo and Jennifer Ho. Moderated by Jennifer Chu, CAAM’s Membership & Development Manager
Yi Chen: Documentary filmmaker Yi Chen is a 2019 Soros Equality Fellow and her first feature First Vote is currently in distribution with a festival run at the 2020 CAAMFest and Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. She won IndieCapitol Awards Best Documentary Short for Chinatown which aired on WHUT and was featured by the Washington Post, NPR and NBC4.
Jennifer Ho: The daughter of a refugee father from China and an immigrant mother from Jamaica, Jennifer Ho is the director of the Center for the Humanities and the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she also holds an appointment as Professor in the Ethnic Studies department. She is also the President of the Association for Asian American Studies and the author of three scholarly monographs, including Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture (Rutgers University Press 2015), which won the South Atlantic Modern Language Association award for best monograph. In addition to her academic work, Ho is active in community engagement around issues of race and intersectionality, leading workshops on anti-racism and how to talk about race in our current political climate.
Kaiser Kuo: Kaiser Kuo is the host of the Sinica Podcast, a weekly current affairs podcast that has run since 2010. A native of Upstate New York, Kaiser spent his teens in Tucson, Arizona, and graduated from UC Berkeley in political science before spending a year in China. After coming back to the U.S. for graduate school, he returned to China in 1996 and lived there until 2016, where he played in the Chinese heavy metal band Tang Dynasty, which he co-founded in his student days, then went on to a career in journalism before joining China’s leading search engine, Baidu, where he served as director of international communications. He returned to the U.S. in 2016 and lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and two children.