Mississippi Triangle (1984)
(110min) 16mm, color, sound
Director: Christine Choy; Associate Producers, Pearl Bowser, Yuet-Fung Ho; Sound, J.T. Takagi, Sylvie Thouard
Grant Awarded to Third World Newsreel
Archive: Third World Newsreel library at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR)
This is an intimate portrait of life in the Mississippi Delta, where Chinese, African Americans and Whites live in a complex world of cotton, work, and racial conflict. The history of the Chinese community is framed against the harsh realities of civil, religion, politics, and class in the South. Rare historical footage and interviews of Delta residents are combined to create this unprecedented document of inter-ethnic relations in the American South.
Mississippi Triangle (1984), is a 110-minute independently produced documentary depicting the complex intersection of racial and ethnic heritages and communities coexisting in the Mississippi Delta region and the power relations resulting from a long history of systemic racial segregation. Mississippi Triangleexplores the consequences and remnants of racial segregation in the American South through the testimony of different generations of people of Asian, African, and European descent in the Mississippi Delta region. The film arcs through a myriad of social topics marked by ethnic identity, including labor, education, political action, personal security, marriage, leisure, religion, and death.
“Mississippi Triangle remains one of the more unusual collaborative experiments in the history of American independent cinema. The goal was to make a collaborative film that would deal with ethnicity as a multifaceted set of realities, braided together within the Mississippi Delta region, where the lives of Asian Americans, African Americans, and European Americans were simultaneously intersecting and developing separately.” – Scott Macdonald, Scholar and film curator, Professor of Film History and Chair of the Cinema and Media Studies Department at Hamilton College Almost 40 years after its release, Mississippi Triangle has acquired more relevance in its exploration of the workings and devastating consequences of racial/ethnic stratification. To an America with an ever-growing awareness of systemic racism in the wake of Black Lives Matter, this film offers the voices of historically situated BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities talking from a standpoint very similar to the present day. Their testimony provides a basis from which to rethink our democracy, the legacy of slavery, and our efforts to move toward a truly pluralistic society.
Christine Choy, who recently received a lifetime achievement award from Hot Docs, has produced, directed, and photographed more than 85 films and has received over 60 international awards, including an Oscar nomination for the co-directed documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987). Choy’s latest collaborative documentary film, The Exiles (2022), had its International Premiere at Hot Docs Festival 2022 and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to her work as a documentary filmmaker, Choy is a celebrated professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she served as Chair of Tisch’s Graduate Film & Television Program from 1994 to 1997, and again from 2002 to 2005.She is the founding director of Third World Newsreel, one of the oldest alternative media arts organizations in the U.S., and the School of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong; a member of the Project Vetting committee of the Film Development Fund, Hong Kong; and served as an International Trustee Member of the Asia Society from 1995 to 2002.