Virtual Screening Room: Thousand Pieces of Gold



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1990 • dir Nancy Kelly w/Rosalind Chao, Chris Cooper, Michael Paul Chan • 105 min

Set in a mining town in the 1880s, THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD is based on the classic novel by Ruthanne Lum McCunn with a screenplay by award-winning filmmaker Anne Makepeace (Tribal Justice). Upon its release in 1990, the film won immediate acclaim for its portrayal of the real-life story of Lalu (Chao), a young Chinese woman whose desperately poor parents sell her into slavery. She is trafficked to a nefarious saloonkeeper in Idaho’s gold country. Eventually Charlie (Cooper), a man of different ilk, wins her in a poker game and slowly gains her trust. Way ahead of its time, the film resonates even more powerfully today in the era of #MeToo. Unfortunately, Nancy Kelly became a victim of prejudice against women directors within the American film industry and never directed another fiction feature in spite of extraordinary reviews from critics, some of whom compared her talent to that of John Ford.

The Brattle is excited to offer this amazing new restoration – far outstripping any previous digital version – thanks to the efforts of the IndieCollect team and KinoLorber Films.

“Rosalind Chao’s performance is a wonder – the sort that, in a conventional Hollywood epic, would inspire Oscar speculation.”
– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Thousand Pieces of Gold remains both a worthwhile exploration of individuality and agency as well as a beguiling love story.”
– Lisa Trifone, Third Coast Review