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Actor Kim Chan to Receive Rhode Island International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award


PROVIDENCE, RI (July 29, 2004) • The Rhode Island International Film Festival will be honoring veteran character actor, Kim Chan as a pioneer, mentor and noted performer of Asian heritage in the entertainment industry at it’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation this year. The event will take place prior to a screening of his most recent work, “Zen Noir,” which will unreel, Friday, August 13th at 7:00 p.m. The location for the award and tribute will be the historic Columbus Theatre, 270 Broadway, Providence. The 90-year-old Chan, still active and adding to his lengthy film and television resume, will be on hand to accept the award.


Michael Drywa, Esq., RIIFF’s Board President, stated that “Kim Chan was selected as the first Asian American honored by RIIFF because of his extensive body of work, which spans six decades, and his great visibility in the Asian American community.”


"He has a true concern for young performers," says Drywa, who noted his support of aspiring Asian American actors. “Chan has provided a sterling example of the possibilities available through persistence and hard work.”


“This is a very important and prestigious award for our festival”, states George T. Marshall, RIIFF’s Executive Director. “We look for people in the industry who have built a body of work through persistence, patience and quality. Kim Chan represents the best of both effort and achievement in this arena.”


“In addition”, says Marshall; “here at the Rhode Island International Film Festival we make every effort to represent a panorama of diversity that enriches our presentation through voices from every cultural, ethnic, religious, sexual, and social strata.”


Chan first came to the United States as a teenager with his older sister from China's Toishan province in 1928. They settled in Providence, then moved to New York. Although not a trained actor, Chan began his career with extra work in the 1940s, often playing a Japanese soldier. Working as a maitre d' at his father's midtown Manhattan restaurant, the renowned House of Chan, he made show business contacts through restaurant patrons. The allure of working in his father's restaurant quickly paled when he discovered that his acting “gigs” paid him more money.


"They tell me all I have to do is walk across the room," Chan recalls of his first role. "So, I walk across the room and I get $125. I say to myself, "Hey, this is terrific.' I made less than $50 for the whole week at the restaurant. Here, I get $125 just to walk across the room. So, I told them they can hire me anytime."


Not short of pluck, Chan later turned to self-promotion as he regularly placed ads with Back Stage co-founder Ira Eaker. Chan’s credits include a long list of acting with the most well known names in both the East and the West. These include working with director Martin Scorsese (on "King of Comedy" and "Kundun"), a featured role in "Lethal Weapon 4” with Jet Li and in “Shanghai Knights” with Jackie Chan. He may be best remembered as the co-star opposite David Carradine in the syndicated action series "Kung Fu: the Legend Continues". In addition to his mainstream films Chan has been involved with independent efforts such as his current “Zen Noir”.


Looking and behaving much younger than his 90 years, Chan is very proud to be honored by RIIFF and feels the event will help promote Asian Pacific performers. Chan also hopes his honor will inspire other Asian American actors. "I want to say to the Asian actor, have courage, be patient, study your craft, and do your homework so we can be proud of you and you can be proud of yourself. Acting is a wonderful profession [and] can bring you great joy."


The award presentation honoring Kim Chan will take place during RIIFF 2004, on Friday, August 13th. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the door. The awards program will include a video retrospective of the honoree's work, a Q&A with the audience, and the screening of “Zen Noir,” directed by Bostonian Marc Rosenbush, which has already won awards and accolades at other film festivals. Chan will speak about his accomplishments and is expected to impart advice on pursuing a career in acting.