First Vote

SYNOPSIS

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. 

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TEAM 

Yi Chen

Yi Chen, Director /Producer/ Cinematographer/ Editor 

Yi is a documentary filmmaker based in Washington, DC. Her work explores the intersection of racial justice, immigration, and democracy. She is a 2019 Open Society Foundations Soros Equality Fellow and 2020 DC Arts and Humanities Fellow. Her first feature length documentary FIRST VOTE received grants from the Ford Foundation JustFilms, Center for Asian American Media, ITVS, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Kartemquin Films and Southern Documentary Fund. The film participated in pitches at HotDocs, DOC NYC Pitch Perfect, Tribeca IF/Then, AFI Docs, and Double Exposure Film Festival. It was workshopped through DCTV Docu Work-In-Progress Lab, Kartemquin Films KTQ Lab, UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program, and Docs in Progress Fellowship Program. Her previous film CHINATOWN, about the activism of long-time residents to keep Wah Luck House affordable for low-income seniors to stay in DC Chinatown, won IndieCapitol Awards Best Documentary Short and aired on PBS station WHUT. The film was featured by the Washington Post, NPR and NBC4. Yi holds an MFA in Film and Media Arts from American University.

KM.jpgKristina 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. 

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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.

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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.


THIS FILM WAS MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE SUPPORT OF

  • DCTV Docu Work-In-Progress Lab 
  • DOC NYC Pitch Perfect 
  • UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program Professional Workshops for Independent Documentary Filmmakers    
  • KTQ Labs: Feedback Screenings Program
  • Docs In Progress
  • Carolyn’s First Decade Fund, Women in Film and Video DC 
  • AFI DOCS Forum
  • Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival Pitch Forum
  • Tribeca IF/Then Midwest Pitch 
  • HotDocs Deal Maker Program

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FUNDING PROVIDED BY

  • JustFilms | Ford Foundation
  • Soros Equality Fellowship, Open Society Foundations
  • Center for Asian American Media with funding 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 

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FISCAL SPONSOR

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.


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