breathin': the eddy zheng story
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Bright Family Screening Room, The Paramount Center
559 Washington Street, Boston MA
(T: Park Street, Downtown Crossing, or Boylston)
2015 | 61 mins | USA | Documentary
Directed by Ben Wang
Followed by a Q&A with Eddy Zheng
BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY is a documentary feature about a Chinese immigrant who spent over 20 years behind bars and would become one of the nation's most recognized leaders on prison reform and youth violence prevention.
Eddy entered the criminal justice system at 16 years old with limited understanding of the English language or the U.S. judicial system. While in prison, Eddy learned English, earned his college degree, published his poetry, and transformed into a nationally recognized leader—inspiring youth, activists, and politicians on issues of prison reform and youth violence prevention. As an advocate for Ethnic Studies in the prison college curriculum, Eddy was sent to solitary confinement for for 11 months, where he garnered support from community activists and leaders.
Even as Eddy fought systemic injustices, he continued to fight an internal battle. Spending nearly two decades in prison left a physical and mental toll on him, an all-too-common phenomenon for the incarcerated. What is more, Eddy had to reconcile with his family, for whom the shame and stigma of prison caused a lifetime of secrets and lies. Despite being released from immigration custody in 2007, Eddy has been ordered deported to China and awaits the final court decision. With the looming possibility of deportation, Eddy must negotiate what it means to “live freely”—attempting to rebuild a family, reconcile with his victims, and make a lasting change in society at large.
BREATHIN’ won the CAAMFest AUDIENCE AWARD for Documentary Feature, Honorable Mention in the Documentary Competition by the CAAMFest Jury, and the JASON D. MAK SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARD at the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon.
BEN WANG's previous documentary films include AOKI (Co-Director, 2009
feature documentary film, which screened at SF Int’l Asian American Film Festival, Black Panther Party Film Festival, Chicago Asian American Showcase, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, Vancouver Asian Film Festival, and Boston Asian American Film Festival) and MAMORI (Director, 2013 short documentary film that screened at CAAMFest). Wang also co-edited “Other: an API Prisoners’Anthology,” the first anthology of writings and artwork featuring API prisoners.