San Francisco’s Central Subway may not have a lot of riders, but those who do exit at Chinatown-Rose Pak Station may wonder who exactly its namesake was.
Now they have their chance. Rally, a documentary about the late Chinatown activist Rose Pak, will have its world premiere in April at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Two screenings are scheduled, one in San Francisco on April 21 and another in Berkeley on April 23.
Pak, who died in 2016 at the age of 68, was considered one of the most influential and controversial power brokers in City Hall and in the Chinese American community. She’s known for her close relationships with top city leaders and for helping to orchestrate and make Ed Lee’s successful 2011 campaign to be San Francisco’s first Asian American mayor.
“We cannot think of a better place to have our world premiere than in San Francisco,” said Michelle Moy, the producer of the documentary.
An immigrant from China, Pak came to the U.S. as a student in the 1960s, later becoming a journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle. She never held public office, but she cultivated political power and formed her network through decades of activism, starting with a campaign to save the Chinese Hospital.
Controversies around Pak continued even years after her death, including alleged ties with the Chinese government, a series of corruption scandals and her purportedly bullying personality. She was a strong advocate for the Central Subway, and the move to name Chinatown’s station after her was a divisive one, sparking adamant opposition and protests in Chinatown.
A subway plaque contained information about her birthplace that contradicted details found in the booklet from her funeral, media articles and other existing online reports, creating another fracas late last year. Even in death, Pak is capable of stirring drama.
🗓️ Friday, April 21 | 5:30 pm
📍 CGV San Francisco, 1000 Van Ness Ave., SF
🗓️ Sunday, April 23 | noon
📍 BAMPFA, 2155 Center St., Berkeley
Han Li can be reached at [email protected]