SYNOPSIS: "TAKE A LOOK: NEW YORK CITY CHINATOWN POST 9/11" captures the thoughts and feelings of the residents of New York City's Chinatown after the World Trade Center disaster of September 11, 2001. Speaking in their own language (Mandarin, Cantonese and English), Chinatown merchants and residents describe the impact of the disaster on their neighborhood, located only 10 blocks away from the former World Trade Center site. The final series of U.S. flag imagery, underscored by a merchant's singing, illustrate a community's self-discovery through disaster, one of resounding patriotism mixed with commercial need.

This documentary was the first to cover the effects of September 11 on the Chinese American community in New York City. It premiered at the Museum of Modern Art as part of a exhibition of filmed responses to September 11. Up to that time this community had been given no media coverage in spite of the personal and financial impact they suffered. It remains an important cause for Asian American journalists and filmmakers to give voice to their community despite barriers of language and access to media.



Kevin Lee is an independent filmmaker based in New York City. His documenary "Take a Look: Chinatown, NYC Post 9/11" showed the effects of 9/11 on the Chinatown community; it was broadcast on PBS and played to film festivals across the nation. Mr. Lee’s recent credits include "World Tourism Center", a documentary short that explores the former World Trade Center in its new incarnation as a major tourist attraction; and "Banana" a 30 minute short about a Chinese immigrant who thinks his son is literally a banana. Mr. Lee is currently working on two feature-length scripts.


David Lei, Evergrand Trading Inc.

Bingqiang Cai, Sweet-n-Tart Cafe

Yan Fang Chen, Fu Hing Clothing, Inc.

Eddy Chow, CL Lighting and Electric

Fu Mou Wen, CL Lighting and Electric

Doris Gee

Michael Tran

Robin K.S. Tay



GENRE: Documentary Short


MEDIUM: Digital Video

LANGUAGE: In Cantonese, Mandarin and English with English subtitles.

Shot entirely on location in New York's Chinatown.


QUESTIONS WITH KEVIN LEE ________________________________________________

Note: These interview questions are posted on New York PBS Affiliate Thirteen's REEL NEW YORK website: I include them to give some background on my own work and views on independent film and video. -- KL

1) What inspired you to make this piece?

The events of September 11 elicited massive media coverage of the New York City area and how the lives of residents near the disaster area were changed immensely. However, there was virtually no coverage of the Chinatown community, located only 10 blocks away from the World Trade Center; I could find no stories about how they were affected and how they reacted as individuals and as a community. My project was devoted to giving them a voice and offering them an opportunity to express their experiences, thoughts and feelings in their own words.

2) Do you have any interesting/and or amusing behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?

It was actually not that easy to get people to talk. Most people we approached were extremely camera-shy. Our strategy was to approach people off-camera, talk to them for as long as half an hour to get them comfortable with our presence and our project. However, even after doing this only a third of our subjects were willing to go on camera.

3) Is there a relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?

In my current work I am extremely interested in how people interact with their environments, and I prefer "finding" my locations and settings rather than imposing a pre-conceived scenario on a given space. In this regard I have trained myself to be attentive to my surroundings, wherever I happen to be. And this has certainly led to a deep appreciation of this city. I am currently involved in a project led by filmmaker Jon Jost called "Worldview2002" ( which has allowed me to fully address these concerns.

4) What do you think about the current state of independent video/filmmaking?

I think independent, low-budget film and videomaking is more poised than ever to fulfill its promise of revitalizing the state of American cinema and visual art. Economically speaking, all signs point to this mode of production as the way of the future. But generally many artists aren't up to the challenge, because the constant diversion of or preoccupation with commercial success distracts from or limits their scope of vision.

5) How did you fund this particular film/video, and what is your general experience in seeking funding for your work?

Totally funded on my own. Found volunteers through friends to help with interviewing, translation and editing. Friends are the best thing to have as a filmmaker-- not only are they willing to work for little or nothing, but if they share your vision the work is all the more easier. They're the key to a viable ultra-small budget production.

6) If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental or purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?

They may contact Dan Fernandez at Third World Newsreel, 545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor New York, NY 10018 tel. 212-947-9277. Or they may contact me at