Harvard-Westlake Honors Student Documents SoCal Sweatshop

Remember the name Elaine Tang. The Harvard-Westlake student’s very impressive accomplishments suggest we’ll be hearing a lot more from her in the coming years.

This enterprising 17-year-old interned in Beijing last summer with animation firm Xing Xing Digital, while also studying advance Chinese at Peking University. With the help of company CEO Lifeng Wang, she made El Monte, an animated short about the true 1995 story of 72 Thai and Hispanic workers held captive and forced to work 18-hour days at a Southern California garment factory. Her film has just been accepted into the 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it will screen May 10. From the press release:

Spending her mornings in class and her afternoons interning at Xing Xing, Tang was not only learning the animation process, she was also translating technical cinematic terms while also explaining the significance of the El Monte story to her production team who only spoke Chinese. Tang and her team created the storyboards, contacted the actual garment workers from the El Monte case to do the voice-overs, and produced the short animation recounting the El Monte story.

Says Tang, “Through this film, I hope to give a voice to those previously unheard and to inspire all to uphold justice.”

Tang first became aware of the El Monte case (and landmark subsequent legal fight) through her volunteer work at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC). To watch the five-minute short on YouTube, click here.