Aki Aleong

05/11/2022

Railroad to Hell: A Chinaman's Chance 

Synopsis:

1870's America. A Chinese immigrant falsely accused of murdering a white woman is viciously hunted down; he'll have to prove his innocence in a time when people of color had "no legal rights" and could be bought and sold for a profit. 

Aki Aleong

Actor and Director

Aki Aleong's career has spanned more than 60 years as an actor, singer, writer, producer and activist. He has served on the National Board of the Screen Actors Guild, appointed National Chair of SAG'S EEOC and was a member of the President's Diversity/Affirmative Action Task Force. Aki has also been Executive Director of AIM (Asians in Media), Vice President of The Media Coalition of Los Angeles and President of MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian-Americans). Among Aki's numerous awards is an Honorary Doctorate from New Dimensions University in 2013.

Aki's legendary career started on Broadway in "Teahouse of the August Moon" and "The Interview." He went on to star in more than 50 movies and 150 television shows and has worked with Academy Award-winners Frank Sinatra Jr., Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway, Joanne Woodward, Steve McQueen, Ben Kingsley, John Mills, Ernest Borgnine, Jennifer Connelly and Martin Landau. Aki has worked with Directors William Wyler {3 time Oscar winner}, John Sturges and Martin Ritt. Other notable stars with whom Aki has worked include Roger Moore, Bill Cosby, Peter Lawford, Tony Randall, Gina Lollobrigida, Chuck Norris, Olivia Hussey, Pierce Brosnan and others, many of whom have been the recipients of Golden Globes, DGA, WGA, SAG, Cannes and similar prestigious awards. Aki's career also includes working with prominent Writers/Directors, including John Milius, Lionel Chetwynd, Philip Yordan, Mark Rydell and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Pearl S. Buck.

Aki also has experience as a record executive producer/artist. He was Chairman of FORE (The Fraternity of Recording Executives), an organization dedicated to bringing Executives of Color into the Music Industry. His other affiliations include President of Pan World Records and Golden Dragon Publishing companies. He was the National Director of Black Promotion for Polydor/Polygram Records and also worked with Liberty/UA Records and Capitol Records. He also produced records for Columbia Records, Capitol, Liberty/UA, Artista and other prominent labels. Aki, in fact, is the first Asian American to have a Top100 record, which he wrote and co-produced, on the National Charts in the US.

Aki's other accomplishments include NAAAP ( National Association of Asian American Professionals) membership, an Advisory Board Member of the US China Aids Foundation and a Judge for the Asian American Teens 2007-2008.

Aki is President of MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans), Senior Advisor for Ace Studios Hong Kong and President of Mustard Seed Media Group, for which he wrote, directed and starred in "Chinaman's Chance: America's Yellow Slaves." Aki's extensive background in the entertainment industry also includes the production of a wide variety of movies, videos and documentaries.

Director Statement

CAN NON-VIOLENCE, PEACE, LOVE REDEMPTION AND FORGIVENESS TRANSFORM THIS VIOLENT LAWLESS, WILD WEST INTO A MORE PEACEFUL, MORAL AND ENLIGHTENED AMERICA?

THE STORY BEGINS - RAILROAD TO HELL: CHINAMAN'S CHANCE
NON PEOPLE...

1857: THE UNITED STATE GOVERNMENT PASSED THE DRED
SCOTT DECISION, DENYING EQUAL JUSTICE AND
CITIZENSHIP TO PEOPLE OF COLOR, ALLOWING THEM
TO BE BOUGHT AND SOLD AS MERCHANDISE.

1882: THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PASSED THE
CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT PROHIBITING THE CHINESE
FROM CITIZENSHIP AND ENTERING THE UNITED STATES
UNTIL 1943.

2009: THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DECLARED AN OFFICAL

APOLOGY TO THE CHINESE...AFTER 127 YEARS.

Personal Note

This is perhaps the best moment to quote Francis Ford Coppola:

"Anyone who's made films and knows about the cinema has a lifelong love affair with the experience. You never stop learning about film." 

   When I saw  Railroad to Hell: A Chinaman's Chance submitted to our Festival, at first I didn't realize it. Later, when I opened the submission and clicked to watch the film, at the moment I saw the opening credits I was, I must admit, stunned...  

   I love Cinema since I have memories, since childhood, sneaking out to go and watch movies. Back then this was in Romania and I was probably 8 or 9 y.o. that time. During the 80's the Romanian cinemas were screening films as old as Gone with the Wind and usually for just one week [exceptionally for two weeks]. I grew up with Jack Lemmon, Walter Mattau, Jerrey Lewis, Louis de Funes, Jean Gabin, Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Brigitte Bardot, Kim Novac, Bud Spencer, Terence Hill, Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracey, Katherine Hepburn, Sofia Loren, Ann Margret, Martin Landau, William Conrad, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, and so many more... My love for cinema started with the best films it could have ever started with...

In 1988 my family moved to Spain [I was 14] and my love for movies was increasing. In Spain I had access to new movies, certain type of films I never watched before. One of them was Braddock, Missing in action. There was the first time I watched Aki Aleong, the malefic General. And this was the beginning: Aki Aleong, Ernest Borgnine, Lorenzo Lamas, Danny Trejo, Geoffrey Lewis, Martin Kove , more recently Reggie Lee... Who doesn't love Sergeant Wu in Grimm?... THEY, this generation of actors influenced me to get into Film industry as actor and later on as a scriptwriter, score composer and at a very modest level, filmmaker. I opened this Festival for my love for films.  As an actor, which is my truest and most pure passion, I had to explore all aspects of filmmaking for a better understanding of the whole process and of course here comes the other aspect we must touch in our quest for excellence, film judging. We watch what our colleagues from all around the world are working on, we see their strengths and their weaknesses, we see what works for a film and what doesn't. We learn and we keep learning...

  But when a Hollywood movie, with actors I've seen my whole life at the cinema, the very actors I admire so much and influenced me to become an Actor myself... was right here, at my Festival, I couldn't believe it. It was like a closing Karma and the opening of a new cycle. We, festival curators, become part of the projects submitted. Having this film with us I felt instantly connected to it, part of it. I could feel the fun and the challenges the project must have gone through... It has been an extremely emotional week. How honored I feel for having this project with us goes beyond joy, beyond euphoria, beyond any possible word to describe it. I am very thankful to Dawna Lee Heising for trusting us, once again. Thank you.

                                                                                            with love, Leonidas Stanescu, Festival Director