About the Film

A TALE OF THREE CHINATOWNS is a feature-length documentary that explores the survival of urban ethnic neighborhoods. Specifically examining Chinatowns in three American cities, the film looks at the forces altering each community and the challenges that go with them.The film profiles Chinatowns in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Boston and features the voices of residents, community activists, developers, government officials, and others who have a connection to this ubiquitous neighborhood.  Through these perspectives, the film presents the present day pressing topic of urban development and gentrification through the eyes of those on the frontlines. Chicago’s Chinatown is a story of growth where the Asian-American population has increased and its borders have expanded.  In contrast, Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown has dwindled to an estimated population of 300 residents of Chinese descent. The Chinatown neighborhood in Boston finds itself somewhere in between these two extremes as various groups fight for the land on which it sits.

A TALE OF THREE CHINATOWNS is timely as America’s cities are experiencing a sudden change in demographics due to larger social and economic trends. As reverse “exoduses” occur throughout the country with an increased number of people moving back into cities, ethnic enclaves and lower income residents who’ve long sought these communities for social services, employment, and affordable housing are faced with grave challenges.

These challenges include competition for space, residential displacement, increased living costs, non-community developers and overall, their survival. The rapid changes raise questions about broad socioeconomic accessibility to urban areas, responsible development, evolving neighborhoods and citizens’ rights to the city. It also raises questions about the notion of “community” and how it is defined. Through the voices of those involved, this film aims to bring a 360-view of changing populations and the diverse fabric of people and interests that are in constant flux and negotiation throughout the United States and its history.


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AUG 6, 2022
Phi Lambda Charitable Trust (PLCT)
JUN 17, 2022
Revolutionary Spaces
MAY 23, 2022
MAY 18, 2022
Sidwell Friends School
MAY 12, 2022
WGBH AAPI Heritage Month Event
MAY 7, 2022
Milton Academy
Mar 3, 2022
Tufts University Medical Center
DEC 2, 2021
Brandon University
NOV 19, 2021
Tiburon International Film Festival
NOV 10, 2021
The Wharton School
OCT 22 2021
Harvard University
OCT 20 2021
Boston Asian American Film Festival
SEP 15, 2021
Documentary screening & Webinar Discussion
AUG 10-15, 2021
New Haven Documentary Film Festival
JUL 14-25, 2021
DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival
JUN 23-27, 2021
Roxbury International Film Festival
JUN 4-13, 2021

Watch It Now!

For individual and personal viewing of our film, go to Amazon and AppleTV

Past Work
Tiger Sisters Productions

The civil disturbance and street violence following the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr had a profound impact on the country as well as the nation's capital. It had no less of an impact on DC's Chinatown, a neighborhood of first and second generation Chinese Americans. A community navigating the racial tensions of the time, this is the story of how its residents experienced a pivotal moment in history.

The full documentary is available for viewing on Amazon Prime Video.

By Stephen Grigelevish – Boston Compass Newspaper, 8/12/21 Click here to read the article
“A Tale of Three Chinatowns” raises concerns about neighborhoods’ survival
SAMPAN by SHIRA LAUCHAROEN (June 24, 2021) – “A Tale of Three Chinatowns” is a documentary film screened through the Roxbury International Film Festival, in partnership with the Shared Stories series at ArtsEmerson. The movie, which focuses on the survival of Chinatowns in Boston, Washington D.C., and Chicago, will be played from June 23-27. It explores...
theEagle (American University) REVIEW: ‘A Tale of Three Chinatowns’ explores Chinese American identity through their community experiences
By Tristan Au | Tuesday, August 03, 2021 – For those who make their way to D.C.’s Chinatown for the first time, they may find it jarring to see McDonald’s, Chipotle and Walgreens occupying the streets. What’s more, each shop in Chinatown shares a blatantly appropriated chinoiserie aesthetic — which would be fine if the shop was...
Washington Asia Pacific American Film Festival successfully concluded
Chineseindc.com (published 08.05.21) – Washington DC News, the 21st Asia Pacific American Film Festival in Washington successfully concluded on July 25. Although the film festival was basically screened online, the closing ceremony was held at the AFI Silver Theatre American Film Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland. The ceremony also screened the movie “Girl Away from Home”...
The DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival returns
WJLA-TVA (ABC) News On Your Side did a piece on the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival. For more, click here: https://wjla.com/features/7news-mornings/the-dc-asian-pacific-american-film-festival-returns
BostonHassle.com Interview with Director, Lisa Mao
DIRECTOR LISA MAO (FRONT) INTERVIEWING ONE OF THE SUBJECTS IN “A TALE OF THREE CHINATOWNS”. PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK. From bostonhassle.com: A Tale of Three Chinatowns explores the different stages of disappearing Chinatowns across America, but directs its attention to the ones in Boston, Chicago, and D.C. It is the second collaboration between Penny Lee and...
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