Paint It Red – A Film Fighting for Chinatown

The Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) is an annual film festival held in Vancouver for about four or five days in November every year since 1996. It is a nonprofit organization that offers a platform for independent North American Asian filmmakers to show their works to both Asian and non-Asian audiences. The purpose of the film festival is to develop an understanding and appreciation of today’s independent North American Asian films and to represent the often-ignored North American Asians caught between two cultures. The Vancouver Asian Film Festival Society offers a cultural bridge between the Asian and non-Asian communities as well as the Asian communities themselves.

The Vancouver Asian Film Festival of 2017 took place from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5. Of the revered works, the documentary “Paint It Red“ gathered plenty of attention and appreciation after it was premiering on Nov. 5.

The fight for Chinatown is the theme of the film. “The film’s title, “Paint it Red,” is somewhat facetious,” the director Eva Cohen explained. “There are some examples in Chinatown right now where you have developers or expensive restaurants coming in where they think if they paint the outside and the inside red and put in a couple of lions that it makes it Chinese.”


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Cohen shines a spotlight on just one of the many issues in the continually contentious development and preservation efforts surrounding Vancouver’s historic Chinatown.

What happens when seniors face evictions and homelessness?

They fight back!

Cohen documents the community’s fight against Beedie, a real estate development company’s proposal to put up a massive luxury condominium tower in the heart of Chinatown. Beverly Ho is a young Chinese Canadian and a volunteer in the Chinese neighborhood dedicated to preserving and continuing Chinese cultural heritage in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Can they succeed to counter the reality? Can they save the dying Chinatown? This is a very typical film shows the old generation of Asian American and Asian Canadian current situation. Here is the film trailer.


I interviewed Chelsey Su, whose family moved from China to Los Angeles. She’s living in a Chinese community in California. When asked her opinion on the meaning of Chinatown, she said: “Chinatown is where Chinese or Asian can go when they have homesick. Chinese feel welcomed and belonged in Chinatown [sic].”

“How you feel about the dying of Chinatown and the change of Asian American identity?” I asked.

She responded: “Looking at the dying of Chinatown as an insider (Chinese), I would say we are losing our identities while we start to accept more influences from other cultures (not just American culture) which is pretty sad that more and more Chinese do not have a strong feeling of being Chinese (or are proud of being a Chinese). As an outsider (other race’s POV, if I’m not an Asian) I would say it’s a good thing that Chinese are more open to other cultures instead of keep everything to themselves.”

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  1. It is sad to see the loss of a distinct Chinese culture present within some cities. Part of me is glad that there is less separation between the cultures, but I think it is still important to remain true to the roots of our cultural customs.

  2. It was really interesting to read the content of your interview. In places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, Chinatown has always been questionable to me. I never knew what the Chinese thought about that. It is good to hear that they find it comforting rather than discriminatory.

  3. I love the video provided. I appreciate the awareness provided about the disappearance of China town. It is informing and personal due to the interview. Great content to share, perfect for the our audience.  

  4. I hope Chinatown doesn’t die. It’s not something I’ve ever been a part of. But, it saddens me that some people feel like their culture is on the downfall in the States. Everyone should try and find a degree of pride with who they are and where they are from.

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