The American born son of hard-working Chinese immigrant parents who came to America with fake IDs, Ben Fong-Torres broke barriers writing for Rolling Stone, quickly becoming a full-time editor. The documentary shows Ben surviving the magazine start-up’s rocky financial times and staff uprisings, helping to propel its meteoric rise into popular culture. It also reveals the less glamourous side to Ben’s life, as he volunteered to help write and lay out the small local newspaper East West, published in English and Chinese, to serve San Francisco’s Chinatown community. We see Ben learning to merge his two worlds and harness his insight to bring a unique new voice to the most pivotal era in America’s music, cultural and political history. The film features rare footage from Ben’s personal archives of many of the world’s iconic music artists including Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, and new exclusive footage of Ben with music and cultural luminaries including Elton John, Quincy Jones, Annie Leibovitz and Cameron Crowe.
The screening of this film is preceded by a short keynote address by filmmaker Suzanne Joe Kai talking about her storied career as an independent filmmaker and award-winning journalist. After the film, writer and producer Kristine Patnugot talks with Kai and producer Doug Blush, an Oscar-winning editor and producer and Michigan native.
This film is part of the Asian American Pacific Islander Film Series, produced in collaboration with American Citizens for Justice (ACJ), with additional support from Rising Voices and funding from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC).