A3N: When did you first start working on the film? Is there a release date yet?
BW: We are starting principal photography now, which is the major phase of filming. We are gearing up to film key scenes over the next few months with Eddy, his family, formerly incarcerated friends, and youth.
We are still fundraising for production of the film, so if readers are able to make a donation, or would just like to learn more about the project, please visit our Kickstarter page.
There is no release date set yet. Check for updates at www.eddyzhengstory.com.
A3N: So far, what have you gotten video footage of?
BW: We have already filmed some really interesting footage including Eddy's Ninth Circuit court hearing regarding his appeals, two reunions of Eddy's formerly incarcerated friends, and the grand opening of the new office of the Community Youth Center in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco.
You can check out our trailer at the Kickstarter site or Youtube.
A3N: Why do you want to make a film about Eddy?
BW: I've personally witnessed Eddy's impact on other prisoners, formerly incarcerated people, and youth. I've seen how people have changed as a result of Eddy's guidance and inspiration. So I feel that Eddy is unique in his ability to motivate change--in people and society as a whole.
At the same time, I feel that Eddy's experience is unfortunately not unique at all. There are over 2.3 million prisoners in the U.S. and the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) prisoner population has grown remarkably--increasing by over 250% from 1990 to 2000. I hope that this documentary is able to shine a light on the stories of API prisoners--this segment of our community that is too often forgotten, shunned, or persecuted because of mistakes they may have made as a kid or harsh sentencing laws (e.g. 3 strikes).
A3N: Can you tell us more about how Eddy's situation similar to other API prisoners in the US?
BW: Unfortunately for many immigrants, all "non-citizen aliens" who commit an aggravated felony or crime of moral turpitude are mandatorily deportable, even if they immigrated to the U.S. legally or with refugee status. Between 1998 and 2006, there was a 61.6% rise in total deportations of people of Asian nationalities.
Despite the growing trend of incarceration and deportation for many Asian Americans, these individuals have largely remained invisible in public policy, the media, and in our own communities.
Eddy's story speaks to critical issues such as the way our criminal justice system treats its youngest criminal offenders, the growth of the prison population, and how immigrants are often deported for crimes they committed decades earlier.
A3N: How has the post-Sept. 11, 2001 so-called "war on terror" affected APIs living in the US?
BW: I think that many communities have been unfairly scapegoated as result of the war on terror, including some API immigrant communities.