A new short film called ‘Eureka’ follows an indentured prostitute on the eve of the 1885 Chinese expulsion | Lost Coast Outpost
A new short film, described by its director as a historical drama-thriller, introduces audiences to 18-year-old Longlong, an indentured Chinese prostitute living under the thumb of an abusive brothel woman on the eve of the Chinese deportation from ‘Eureka in 1885.
Miida Chu, a Los Angeles-based writer/director, was traveling through rural America in 2019 when she began collecting snippets of the largely forgotten history of immigrants to the United States, including Chinese citizens who fled their homeland during the famine in northern China. from 1876-79.
“Then I started to find out about this whole story,” Miida said in a phone interview with the Outpost Wednesday. “I learned how [Chinese immigrants] were driven out of these California mining towns.
They had been brought in for their cheap labor, building infrastructure such as railroads and working in the mines during the gold rush, but as the 19th century progressed, sentiment and politics Growing anti-Chinese forces forced many to flee. The Page Act of 1875, for example, was an anti-prostitution measure specifically designed to prevent Chinese women from immigrating. The Chinese Exclusion Act, which blocked the immigration of Chinese workers for 10 years, was signed into US law in 1882.
By the mid-1870s, Chinese immigrants had established a Chinatown in Eureka. However, in 1885 labor unrest, anti-Chinese racism, and a stray bullet from rival Chinese gangs, or pincers, brought relations to a boil. Following the accidental shooting death of a prominent white man, a crowd gathered at the city’s Centennial Hall. Some proposed a mass massacre of Chinese residents while others suggested looting Chinatown and driving its residents into the redwoods.
Eventually, a committee of fifteen of the city’s “leading men” was appointed to inform the leaders of Eureka’s Chinatown that the Chinese had only 24 hours to pack their things and get out before their buildings were reduced. in ashes.
Miida’s film, simply called Eureka, takes place during these 24 hours. The protagonist is an 18-year-old Chinese woman facing oppression for her race and also her gender. With a running time of 15 minutes, the film retains a dark color palette – deep blacks with pops of orange, red and blue – and the atmosphere remains claustrophobic, with Longlong largely confined by the walls of his small brothel. “Mama’s”.
An immigrant herself, having grown up in Suzhou, China, Miida said she has long been interested in the question of what defines the self. She majored in philosophy as an undergraduate before pursuing her MFA at the American Film Institute, and she remains intrigued by the complexities of identity.
“Because I don’t define myself as the kind of filmmaker who only focuses on racial tension, I wanted to ask, what are the other forces of oppression?” she says. “How do these crossroads shape someone’s identity as a foreigner in this foreign country?”
AFI students were only allowed to shoot their films within 30 miles of campus, so Eureka was filmed on the outskirts of Santa Clarita. (Miida said she hasn’t come to Eureka herself yet, although she wants to.)
“Design choices were based on historic photographs of Eureka and other mining towns in California,” she said.
Eureka screened at dozens of film festivals across the country, and by winning the Golden Reel award at the 2022 Los Angeles Asia-Pacific Film Festival, it qualified for the Oscar Award. About 150 live-action shorts qualify each year, and the Academy narrows down applicants to a shortlist of 15, Miida said recently. Occhi Magazine.
“I’m told they don’t get a lot of historical drama thrillers, so Eureka presents some fresh air,” Miida told the Outpost. “I hope the quality speaks for itself.”
The film doesn’t yet have a cast, so Miida said readers who want to see it should stay tuned. As of now, a trailer for the film can be viewed below.
More information on the Chinese expulsion from Eureka in 1885 can be found at the following websites or by visiting the Clarke Historical Museum, Humboldt County Library, or Cal Poly Humboldt Library.
Eureka – Miida Chu trailer on Vimeo.