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She Marches in Chinatown

In 1952, an unlikely group formed in Seattle’s Chinatown. A group of Asian American high school girls wanted to be of service to the community, and approached Ruby Chow, a Chinese American politician and civic activist whose husband was a Cantonese Opera singer who had experience working with elaborate classic Chinese costumes. Ruby was also friends with a Seattle Police officer named Ted Yerabek, who taught the girls American military drills. That’s how the Seattle Chinese Community Girls Drill Team was formed. For 70 years, they have performed at parades all around Washington state, inspiring generations.

This history is shared by Ruby Chow and her daughter Cheryl Chow from footage filmed in 2002. Cheryl took over the drill team in the 80s at the peak of their popularity when the drill team had 100 members. The team is about to celebrate their 70th anniversary at a challenging time: in the wake of the pandemic participation has dropped to 30 members, but the spirit of the drill team lives on!

SHE MARCHES IN CHINATOWN is an inspiring story about belonging, identity, sisterhood, leadership, and a community that has flourished among a diverse group of women with backgrounds that represent a variety of sexual orientations, races, and ages. It is about a group that thrives despite being in a neighborhood targeted by hate and discrimination. As one superfan puts it, “Please don’t go away – Seattle needs you!”

  • Della Chen
  • Amy Benson
    Drawing the Tiger, From Here
  • Dina Guttmann
    National Geographic: The Last Royals, POV: A Healing Art, New Yorker: The Man Without a Mask
  • Jason J Chen
  • Ruby Chow
    Key Cast
  • Cheryl Chow
    Key Cast
  • Celina Tran
    Key Cast
  • Colleen McKisson
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    33 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 9, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    90,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Asian American International Film Festival
    New York City, NY
    United States
    August 26, 2023
    World Premiere
  • Local Sightings
    Seattle, WA
    United States
    September 16, 2023
    Seattle Premiere
  • Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival
    Rhode Island
    United States
    July 26, 2023
  • Tacoma Film Festival
    Tacoma, WA
    United States
    October 5, 2023
  • Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
    Philadelphia, PA
    United States
    November 5, 2023
  • Vancouver Asian Film Festival
    Vancouver BC
    November 5, 2023
    Canada Premiere
  • Friday Harbor Film Festival
    Friday Harbor, WA
    October 26, 2023
  • Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival
    December 14, 2023
    Nominated for Best Short Documentary
  • Silicon Valley Asian Pacific Filmfest
    San Jose, CA
    United States
    October 20, 2023
  • Reel Women's Film Festival
    Palm Springs, CA
    United States
    November 12, 2023
  • Sydney Women's International Film Festival
    November 28, 2023
  • Paris International Short Festival
    September 29, 2023
    Semi Finalist
  • Chinese American Film Festival
    Pasadena, CA
    United States
    November 2, 2023
  • Hong Kong Indie Film Festival
    Hong Kong
    September 27, 2023
    Semi Finalist
  • Hamburg Indie Film Festival
    September 30, 2023
    Semi Finalist
  • Chicago Filmmaker Awards
    Chicago, IL
    United States
    September 29, 2023
    Semi Finalist
  • Spokane International Film Festival
    Spokane, WA
    United States
    February 10, 2024
    Second Place for Best Documentary Short
  • Seattle Asian American Film Festival
    Seattle, WA
    United States
    February 25, 2024
  • DisOrient Asian American FIlm Festival of Oregon
    United States
    March 10, 2024
    Oregon Premiere
    Audience Choice Award for Best Short Documentary
  • Seattle Asian American Film Festival
    United States
    February 24, 2024
    Nominated for Best Local Short Documentary
  • Hollywood International Diversity Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    February 23, 2024
    Best Editing Award
Director Biography - Della Chen

Della is a Seattle native and a documentary photographer and film maker. She has been telling visual stories for weddings, families, commercial and non-profit and editorial assignments for the last 19 years. She has been involved in multi-media projects about homeless advocacy and aging out of foster care. Since 2018, Della has been a teaching artist for Pablove Shutterbugs, a non-profit organization that teaches the art of photography to kids living with cancer. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Youth in Focus, a free after school program in Seattle amplifying teen voices through photography and arts education. This is her first documentary film project and definitely not her last.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

When I was a teen in the 80’s I always wanted to be a part of the The Seattle Chinese Community Girls Drill Team but regretfully never did. Born and raised a first-generation Seattleite, my family enthusiastically looked forward to the annual Seafair Torchlight Parade. Seeing The Seattle Chinese Community Girls Drill Team perform gave our family this kind of Asian connection to an American tradition. These girls were bad-ass. When my daughter turned 11, I suggested she consider joining the drill team so I could vicariously live through this experience. Her initial reaction was she realized she didn’t have many Asian friends in her school or neighborhood in North Seattle (besides her cousins). As a parent, I started learning more about the drill team’s background and history and as a visual artist I was astounded that this story has never been told in a film. With the rise in Anti-Asian hate and the climate of the world, I want this film to make an impact on this generation, to take better care of our blending cultures and community. Ruby Chow is my inspiration. An unintimidated, American born Chinese woman that cared about her community and made a difference. She, was bad-ass.