DC’s Chinatown was hopping last night -- bars and restaurants bristled with crowds on a warm summer evening, visitors flocked to nearby art galleries, and the Verizon Center rocked with fans at a Mystics WNBA game.
Inside the Chinese Community Cultural Center at 616 H Street NW in the heart of Chinatown, about 50 mostly Chinese-American citizens gathered to view a screening of a work in progress and to ponder questions about Chinatown’s past, present and future.
Ted Gong, President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance’s D.C. Chapter, and Stan Lou, President of the Organization of Chinese-Americans’ Greater Washington/DC Chapter, introduced American University student and filmmaker, Yi Chen. Her highly anticipated documentary considers the reality of present-day D.C. Chinatown against its historic past and prospects for its future from the perspective of its residents.
Yi Chen previewed her verite-style film with a ten-minute clip showing residents of the Wah Luck House, a senior living facility, boarding a chartered bus heading for the Great Wall supermarket in Falls Church, Virginia.
These seniors leave their urban neighborhood once a month to seek Chinese foodstuffs in the suburbs because there is not a single Chinese grocery store in D.C.’s Chinatown. In the past a modest enclave of Chinese-run small businesses, the once-ethnic neighborhood has become a vital and vibrant commercial/entertainment hub of the city. At the same time, the Chinese-American population has been reduced to about 500. Three years ago, the D.C. government produced a development strategy for the area, but no funds have been allocated to implement it.
Her film’s working title is, “House of Happiness.” Yi Chen said she hopes to have her post-production work completed by August. Interviews and clips can be viewed at her Facebook page.