World Premiere of Film About First Asian Women Cops in NYPD to Screen at Queens International Film Festival

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The Fifth Annual Queens International Film Festival (QIFF) will screen the world premiere of Ermena Vinluan's Tea & Justice, a documentary about three petite immigrant Asian women defying stereotypes and helping change the face and soul of the NYPD.

Tea & Justice demonstrates, better than any research study, the critical importance of www.teaandjustice.com [diversity] and gender equity to successful police work that relies less on force and more on communication with citizens and respect for their rights… These stories of the first Asian women to join the New York City Police Department

The Fifth Annual Queens International Film Festival (QIFF) will screen the world premiere of Ermena Vinluan's Tea & Justice, a documentary about three petite immigrant Asian women defying stereotypes and helping change the face and soul of the NYPD. The premiere is Saturday, November 10th, 7:00 pm at PS 166, 3309 35th Avenue, Astoria, NY.

In the film, director Vinluan explores her own thoughts about Asian female stereotypes. Intrigued by the image of Asian women in a non-traditional career, Vinluan also expresses her mixed feelings about cops while honoring the challenges these women embraced and the changes they accomplished -- in a profession that Detective Christine Leung, one of the film's protagonists, once described as "a boys club".

"Bold, sensitive, passionate, analytical and iconoclastic," writes Prof. E. Habal, Asian Studies Dept., San Jose State Univ., CA. The Hollywood Reporter describes the film as "thoughtful and provocative".

University of Toledo Law Professor David A Harris, author of Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing writes: "Tea & Justice demonstrates, better than any research study, the critical importance of diversity and gender equity to successful police work that relies less on force and more on communication with citizens and respect for their rights… These stories of the first Asian women to join the New York City Police Department," he continued, "show how courageous individuals can make a difference in policing."

Agnes Chan, a 20-year-old college student and immigrant daughter of a Chinatown garment factory worker, became NYPD's first Asian female officer in 1980. She was committed to creating a bridge between the Asian community and the police. The milestone was memorialized with her photo in the New York Daily News. A native of Hong Kong, many of Chan's colleagues and superiors assumed she was under-qualified and hired merely to fulfill NYPD's minority and women quotas. She surprised them when they learned she scored 98% on her entrance exam. Chan served as a rookie in East Harlem, was an undercover officer and retired a multi-awarded senior detective. One of Chan's daughters is considering becoming a police officer even though she's told by her mom: "It's gotten better, but it's almost as if you have to prove yourself on the job day after day."

Christine Leung was born in Fukien Province, China. Both her parents were restaurant workers and strict traditionalists who fought her assimilation as an American teenager growing up in Queens. Leung was a student at NYU and a Wall Street secretary before becoming a cop. Early in her career, Leung was shocked when a middle-age Caucasian woman told her: "I'm paying taxes for a little s___ like you!" Leung worked in narcotics, community affairs and on the elite Major Case Squad focusing on kidnappings. She led sensitivity training classes on race and culture in the NYPD. Leung also worked at Ground Zero's rescue and recovery operation in the first weeks after Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks.

Trish Ormsby was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Irish-American father. After her father's death, her mother remarried a Japanese man and was brought up in a traditional household. Ormsby was a Wall Street secretary but quit in disgust when ordered to serve tea to her male Japanese bosses. She loved Cagney and Lacey, the hit 1980s TV show about NYPD women detectives, and was inspired by her Irish uncle, a cop upstate. Ormsby worked undercover in the subway system, made over 70 felony "collars" or arrests, received numerous awards then worked in NYPD's recruitment department.

In Tea & Justice, Chan, Ormsby and Leung share stories about their careers, their personal lives, the stereotypes they defied and how they persevered. The documentary includes interviews with ordinary New Yorkers, experts and anti-police abuse activists -- some of whom believe that reducing police abuses will require hiring more women cops.

The film's humorous cartoons, lively graphics and original music enhance the three women's stories and its complex look at race, gender and power.

Ermena Vinluan produced two award-winning 16mm films for director John Outcalt -- the documentary Until the Cure and dramatic short, Frog Baby. She was script consultant for Su-City Pictures then worked as Kuzui Enterprises' office manager, assisting in film acquisitions for Japan and in post-production for director Fran Rubel Kuzui's 35mm feature, Tokyo Pop. Vinluan also produced records for Paredon Records (now in the Smithsonian collection) plus concerts for multi-Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden. She is on the board of directors of FilCRA/Filipino Civil Rights Advocates.

The Queens International Film Festival (QIFF) opens the world to the cultural and artistic wealth of Queens. It acts locally and thinks globally to create a global entertainment community in Queens, anchored by the American Museum of the Moving Image and the historic Kaufman Astoria Studios.

A premiere invitation-only VIP reception is being held the night of the screening. The film's three protagonists, Chan, Ormsby and Leung will be present along with QIFF President Marie Cataldo. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, City Councilman John Liu, other government, entertainment industry, Asian and women's community leaders and artists have been invited.

Tea & Justice (54 minutes) recently won the prestigious Women in Film Foundation-GM/General Motors international grant. Key crew include Emmy-award winner, Keiko Tsuno (Director of Photography) and Sandrine Isambert -- senior picture editor at Witness, the media advocacy group founded by Sting.

For tickets ($10) and to view the trailer, visit http://www.queensfilmfestival.com.

To book an interview with the film's stars and/or director, contact Leslie J. Yerman, 212-327-2107.

"Heartfelt, delightful...pulls no punches telling these pioneering women's story," said Rocky Chin, NYC civil rights attorney, Board of Directors-Asian American Arts Alliance

"Tea & Justice is a clear indication that increasing the numbers of women in policing at all ranks is a strategy to reduce police excessive force and improve police response to violence against women," said Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation, Washington, DC.

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LESLIE J. YERMAN
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