Four decades in the making: "Chinatown Rising" documentary debuts to sold out crowd

At San Francisco's Castro Theater Thursday night, the personal story of life inside Chinatown portrayed in a new documentary is garnering the attention of a sold out crowd.

The film "Chinatown Rising" is a portrait of the iconic neighorhood as seen through the eyes of two men: Harry Chuck and his son Josh Chuck. Both were born and raised in Chinatown and have experienced it's evolution.  

"I grew up in a time where no one moved out of Chinatown. I used to say you were born there, you lived there, you worked there and you died there," said Harry Chuck.  

"It's clearly not the same. I don't think it can ever be the same. I'm pretty concerned," said Josh Chuck.

The film is an intimate look at the role Chinatown plays in the history of San Francisco.

The black and white footage was largely shot by the 83-year-old Chuck when he was a graduate film student at San Francisco State back in the 1970's. He captured the unrest of his generation.

"Young people calling out for change they felt that the traditional way of doing things was no longer effective," said Chuck.

There were protests highlighting the struggles Chinese immigrant families faced.

"People were living in very poor conditions," said Chuck.

Families lived in cramped quarters in old buildings. Chuck's collage of snapshots about life in Chinatown was stored away as he raised a family, worked as a high school teacher and then a minister in Chinatown. 

"Life got so I never got close to finishing it," said Chuck.

More than four decades later, with the encouragement of his son, Chuck decided it was time to finish the film he started: a story that spans generations.

"I've always been struck by the risk people took and the sacrifices people made over long periods of time to try to make some positive change," said the 40-year-old Josh.

Father and son hope their film will inspire those who see it to embrace the history of Chinatown and help preserve it.  

For more information on "Chinatown Rising," go to