The Fall of the I Hotel – Ariana & Noah

December 8, 2015 at 12:49 am Leave a comment


The Fall of the I-Hotel (1977-83) directed by Curtis Choy is the story of increasing gentrification in San Francisco and the unsuccessful revolt against it. It is another example of an independent documentary focused on the lives of Asian Americans told by other Asian Americans. It focusses on a group of Manong men struggling to stay in their home as more expensive offices move into the neighborhood. A huge part of the film is the protest surrounding the men and their hotel. Although these men lead the movement to keep the building, many help in protesting that are not a part of the hotel. Young adults, especially from UC Berkeley’s Asian American program were active in helping the men over the years as well Jim Jones and many of the members of his church, the People’s Temple. In fact during the night of the police attack Jones had brought 300 people from his church to help.


The protest is for the most part very peaceful. It is only until the police arrive that the protest becomes violent. As seen in the clip that was shown in class, there is a huge fight that breaks out with many of the protestors getting hurt trying to create a human barricade. In fact many of them are wearing masks, presumably to help combat any tear gas that could have been used by the police. Also interesting to note is that the protesters on the streets are not the men in the hotel. This group is mixed raced, young, and comprising of both men and women. The older men stayed in the hotel throughout the protest, until they were forced to leave; although, there were a few nurses there to help them.


When the protest finished and the men were forced out of their homes, they had no place to go. No one helped the men find places to live, meaning that they could either live on the streets or move out of the city. While so many helped them to try and stay in their homes by protecting and protesting for them, when the building was seized and the men kicked out, no one helped the men after.

We wanted to highlight:

  • The multinational protestors who joined the cause including 300 of Jim Jones’ peoples temple cult members.
  • The large group of young adults in the protests from c0lleges
  • The process of the protest and reasons behind it:
      • Investors wanted to make it a parking lot
      • A fire breaks out and killed three of the tenants
      • The plan to update the hotel
      • The Tenants refusal to move out

Discussion Questions:

  • How does the treatment of the Manong compare to that of other Asian American immigrants?
  • Model Minority: Do the Asian American men in this film follow the idea of model minority or not?
  • How is this representation of Chinatown, and San Francisco as a whole, changed (or not changed) from previous films that we have watched?
  • How is this independent film different and similar from the four previous Asian American independent films that we have seen?
  • Are these films similar in protesting against the system or not?


-Ariana Callan & Noah Chang

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Terminal USA Presentation- Tien Le and Nina Lee Asian Americans on YouTube

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