Film Image
From Spikes to Spindles
Producer: Third World Newsreel
1976
Color
46 minutes
US
English/Chinese
English
Trailer and More

From Spikes to Spindles

This raw, gutsy portrait of New York's Chinatown captures the early days of an emerging consciousness in the community. We see a Chinatown rarely depicted, a vibrant community whose young and old join forces to protest police brutality and hostile real estate developers. With bold strokes, it paints an overview of the community and its history, from the early laborers driving spikes into the transcontinental railroad to the garment workers of today.

FROM SPIKES TO SPINDLES was directed by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Christine Choy and a newly remastered HD version is now available.
"Technique for us is secondary. The people themselves have a rich life experience, a knowledge of history and their culture and community organization. And these people are far more qualified to make films than people who have learned their skills in a school." -Christine Choy
Reviews
"This film portrays New York’s Chinatown through an unfiltered lens, painting an honest view of a community built by laborers in spite of the powerful forces of the cops and real estate developers who run the city to this day." - Asian American International Film Festival
"Choy’s “From Spikes to Spindles” offers a fresh, vital survey of the Chinese-American experience spanning more than a century to an increasingly activist present." - Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
"TEACH OUR CHILDREN (1974) captures the abolitionist spirit of the Attica Prison Rebellion; FROM SPIKES TO SPINDLES (1976) gives voice to Chinatown labor organizing around sweatshops and gentrification; BITTERSWEET SURVIVAL (1982) and HOMES APART: KOREA (1991) the destructive legacy of American empire and militarism in Vietnam and South Korea. These films interrogate the legacies of incarceration and imperialism that all Americans inherit; rather than assimilation, these films point us to the necessary abolition of prisons and military bases. Choy’s lens never loses sight of what is human and universal, whether it is the loss of a loved one or searching for home—but these things are never subordinated to the political, nor can they be thought of outside of a political context. In this way, Choy’s films are a valuable lesson in how to think productively about identity and politics today." - Peter Kim George, Sentient Bullein
"FROM SPIKES TO SPINDLES uses a conventional mixture of narration, archival footage, talking heads, and candid on-the-street footage to bear witness to the complexity of the Chinese-American past and present and to polemicize for broader ethnic representation in American life. FROM SPIKES TO SPINDLES established Choy as a significant force in the development of an Asian-American cinema." - Scott MacDonald, A Critical Cinema 3: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers
"The work of veteran filmmaker Christine Choy has often been concerned with revising our commonly and uncritically held views, most often with hard-hitting footage that simply marvels." - All Movie Guide
Screenings
• Asian American International Film Festival
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TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Humanities NY, Ford Foundation, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and individual donors.