MASSACRED FOR GOLD, an adaptation of R. Gregory Nokes's book of the same name, traces the first definitive account of a century-old unsolved crime.
In the 1800s, Chinese immigrants made a significant impact on the development of the American West. At one time numbering over 130,000, they helped build railroads, they farmed, and they mined for gold. However, the West also harbored a large anti-Chinese sentiment, capped by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prohibited Chinese laborers from immigrating to America, but allowed those who were already here to stay. Following the Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants all too often fell victim to horrible violence, the result of racism and greed. One such event, which for years was all but forgotten, is the May 1887 massacre of more than thirty miners in Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America.
MASSACRED FOR GOLD unearths evidence that points to a gang of seven rustlers and schoolboys, one only fifteen, as the killers. It is perhaps Hells Canyon’s greatest mystery, and it’s time to expose it.
We've been familiar with Gregory Nokes's book, MASSACRED FOR GOLD, for several years. And, as we live in Lewiston, Idaho—the gateway to Hells Canyon and the place from which the Chinese miners departed on their journey upriver—we've swam near the very place where the first body surfaced; on walks around town, we've passed the park where some of the victims are said to have been buried. It's a story that has been close to us for a long time.
Significantly, May 25, 2012, marked the 125-year anniversary of the massacre. Also, this year a monument was placed at the site, recognizing the horrific event, as well as a dedication ceremony on June 22, which included participation from Chinese American communities in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We decided that this was the perfect time to embark upon our third feature documentary.
With this particular project, we have visually chronicled a historical event in an experimental way and have added a unique contribution to the wealth of material in the canon. Our Director of Photography, Ryan K. Adams, specializes in classic experimental cinema. Tim Hecker, who scored the film, explores the intersection of noise, dissonance and melody, fostering an approach to songcraft, which is both physical and emotive. Our approach to the narration is poetic and artful, rhythmic and resonant. And each piece of archival footage is presented as an individual work of art.
Independent filmmakers Vernon Lott and Jennifer Anderson have completed two previous feature-length documentaries. BAD WRITING, their first film, was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "charming and smartly conceived." Their second film, CONFLUENCE, won the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Local Sightings Film Festival, and was called "compelling" and "soulful" by the Seattle Times.
Nigel Galt has been editing and sound designing films for over 30 years. Some of his credits include: EYES WIDE SHUT, FULL METAL JACKET, TRAINSPOTTING, AND SHALLOW GRAVE.
Director of Photography Ryan K Adams has been making films for 15 years. He studied classic experimental cinema at The Evergreen State College. Collaborations with experimental filmmaker Jon Behrens have shown worldwide and are distributed by Canyon Cinema.
Once hailed as "the King of Sundance" for having four films in the Festival all in one year, actor Robert Longstreet's credits include THE OREGONIAN, THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM, SEPTIEN, and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS.
CAST AND CREW
J Arthur Sunday
Ryan K Adams