America’s fastest growing population is also one of its least represented. As filmmaker Yi Chen contemplates exercising her own right to vote, she chronicles her introspective journey into America’s battleground states in First Vote. Exploring themes of immigration, voting rights and racial justice, she engages in honest and revealing conversations with four Asian American voters throughout our country’s most coveted districts in Ohio and North Carolina. Following their political participation from 2016 to 2018, First Vote crafts an insightful look at Asian Americans’ experience at the polls.
Your support will help us finish the film for a Spring 2020 release to bring the rarely told stories of Asian American voters to audiences during this important election year. Donate now to ensure that Asian American experiences and voices are heard. Your donations are tax-exempt through our fiscal sponsor Southern Documentary Fund, a nonprofit arts organization that cultivates documentary projects made in or about the American South.
Yi Chen, Director /Producer/ DP/ Editor
Yi is a 2019 Soros Equality Fellow and 2020 DC Arts and Humanities Fellow. She is currently in post-production with First Vote, a feature length documentary supported by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Center for Asian American Media, ITVS, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Southern Documentary Fund. Her last film Chinatown, about three long-time residents’ activism for affordable housing in Washington, DC’s historic Chinatown neighborhood, aired on PBS station WHUT and won the IndieCapitol Awards Best Documentary Short. Yi previously worked at the UN Foundation, National Geographic, and Voice of America. She has also produced documentaries for Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Investigative Reporting Workshop, WAMU 88.5, and Financial Times. Yi holds an MFA in Film and Media Arts from American University and has served as an adjunct professor at George Mason University.
Diane Quon, Consulting Producer
Diane lived in Los Angeles for over 17 years before moving back to her hometown of Chicago. While in LA, Diane worked at NBC and at Paramount Pictures where she was last the Vice President of Marketing. Diane is producing multiple documentaries with Kartemquin Films including the Oscar-nominated and Sundance award-winning film, Minding the Gap directed by Bing Liu; Left-Handed Pianist along with Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich, and co-directed by Leslie Simmer and Kartemquin founder Gordon Quinn; and The Dilemma of Desire with Peabody Award-winning director Maria Finitzo. Diane is a Film Independent Doc Lab (2017) and Fast Track Fellow (2017, 2018). She is also developing a fiction film based on the New York Times best-selling book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Su Kim, Consulting Producer
Su is a documentary producer in New York City. Her work has received numerous grants including from ITVS, Sundance Documentary Fund, NYSCA, California Humanities Council and Tribeca Film Institute. She was a 2015 Women at Sundance Fellow. Currently, she is producing One Bullet Afghanistan with director Carol Dysinger, Sanson and Me with director Rodrigo Reyes, Free Chol Soo Lee with directors Eugene Yi and Julia Ha and Midnight Traveler with director Hassan Fazili and producer Emelie Mahdavian. Her most recent Oscar-nominated film Hale County This Morning, This Evening with director RaMell Ross and producer Joslyn Barnes premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and won U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Vision.
Kristina Motwani, Editor
Kristina is a producer, director, video editor and story consultant in San Francisco. She edited for ITVS’s Independent Lens and AJ+’s Documentary team and is the editor of the films First Friday, The Most Fearless, Fruits of Labor and co-editor of the film Midnight Traveler. She is a 2019 DOCNYC 40 under 40 honoree, was a 2017 BAVC National MediaMaker Fellow and a 2018 SFFilm FilmHouse Resident. Her work has screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca, SFFilm festival and more, and has been seen on PBS, Netflix and the World Channel. She has been nominated for a regional Emmy award and received awards from the SF Press Club, the Tellys and the Society for Professional Journalism. She is a judge for the news and doc Emmy Awards and is currently teaching editing at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Bryan Chang, Editor
Bryan is a documentary filmmaker whose films have been featured by The New York Times, TIME Magazine, National Geographic, PBS, The Atlantic, MoMA, premiered at Sundance Film Festival, and distributed theatrically. He directed feature length documentary BRASSLANDS, and was lead editor for the award-winning documentaries ISLAND SOLDIER and NARCO CULTURA. He edited on the Emmy-nominated documentary series A YEAR IN SPACE as well as Oscar-shortlisted DARK MONEY. He produced and edited KORA: A CIRCLE LIFE, which won best short documentary at HotDocs in 2019. Bryan was listed on DOC NYC’s 2019 list of “40 Under 40” filmmakers to watch.
He is currently directing a Beijing episode of the Peabody Award-winning PBS television program Art in the Twenty-First Century. Bryan is a founding member of Meerkat Media, a cooperative film production company specializing in both independent feature documentaries and commissioned work, that have broadcast on HBO, PBS and CNN.
Ryan Blotnick, Composer
Ryan is a New England-based composer and improviser who creates ambient score music for documentary films, and specializes in jazz, avant-garde, and afrobeat guitar. As a film composer he taps into a wide range of sounds from the underground music scene – backwards guitars, analog synths, and edgy strings – to create compelling scores that lend an authentic feel and emotional depth to documentaries. He shaped his sound alongside his brother’s energetic docs including Gods and Kings (2011), and The Hand that Feeds (2014), which won the Audience Awards at both Full Frame and DOC NYC. His score for Knock Down the House (Netflix, 2019), helped it to earn the Audience and Festival Favorite Awards at Sundance, and get shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
Ryan attended William Paterson University on a full scholarship for jazz and transferred to the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Denmark, where he earned a Masters in Music Performance. Upon returning to New York, he studied counterpoint and Schoenberg’s Theory of Harmony with Paul Caputo. His mentors on guitar include Bob Thompson, Gene Bertoncini and Steve Cardenas. He has also studied with other improvisers including Lee Konitz, Ben Street and Andrew Cyrille. Ryan lives in Southwest Harbor, Maine and travels often to New York and Europe to perform and record.
- JustFilms | Ford Foundation
- Soros Equality Fellowship, Open Society Foundations
- Center for Asian American Media with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- ITVS Diversity Development Fund
- DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
- Kartemquin Films Emerging Storyteller Fund Grant supported by Sage Foundation
- Southern Documentary Fund
- Carolyn’s First Decade Fund, Women in Film and Video DC
- DCTV Docu Work-In-Progress Lab
- KTQ Labs: Feedback Screenings Program
- UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program Professional Workshops for Independent Documentary Filmmakers
- Docs In Progress Fellowship Program
- HotDocs Deal Maker Program
- DOC NYC Pitch Perfect
- AFI DOCS Forum
- Tribeca IF/Then Midwest Pitch
- Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival Pitch Forum
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