Who Is Arthur Chu?
Directed by Yu Gu, Scott Drucker
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Midwest-born and bred, insurance analyst Arthur Chu achieves unprecedented notoriety as a polarizing 11-time JEOPARDY! champion in 2014. After winning almost 300 grand by ‘jumping all over the board,’ instead of running through each category, Arthur’s star power on Twitter quickly rose with a love him/hate him fan base. Realizing he now had a platform, Arthur began writing pieces for The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast, calling out various social injustices ranging from toxic masculinity, Black Lives Matter protests to #GamerGate. “This is not your country. You can live here, you will never ever belong.” That declaration from his father was about more than fitting into society as an Asian American. As a self proclaimed nerd, these words resonates with Arthur as he tries to figure out where he did belong. While seeking answers to how he himself fit into the larger picture of American culture and society, he also invites us to do the same.
Festival veteran Yu Gu and co-director Scott Drucker illuminate an important perspective on nerd culture and its place in America. Arthur’s meteoric rise signals the emergence of nerd culture as part of mainstream culture and he as its latest folk hero. They follow him around to speaking engagements at universities, conventions, and events where he dazzles audiences as a natural orator while also capturing more intimate, vulnerable moments with his family and his wife, Eliza. If you had to choose someone to profile for a reality TV series, Arthur’s journey offers all the key elements of high drama and pathos to satisfy all. Those who troll him on social media is the price he is willing to pay in order to speak out for those he feel voiceless and unseen. Most significantly, the filmmakers highlight how Arthur’s prickly personality and laser-sharp intellect potentially rub many the wrong way and in turn, has categorically labeled him as a “bad Asian,” one who doesn’t play nice for a change.
WHO IS ARTHUR CHU?, fresh off its premiere at the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival, arrives at a moment when this country is grappling, head against wall, with heightened sensitivity around issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, and a multitude of conflicts wherein the public discourse often takes a nasty turn. While this incredible documentary offers unfiltered access into a young man’s private life, in the bigger picture, it seems to be asking is “Who is America?”
— Jeremy Gaudette, with additional contributions by Lindy Leong
YU GU is a filmmaker born in Chongqing, China and raised in Vancouver, Canada. She works in narrative and documentary films, using a lyrical approach to explore themes of identity, migration and artistic freedom. Yu’s A MOTH IN SPRING premiered at Hot Docs and was distributed by HBO.
SCOTT DRUCKER is an award-winning filmmaker from Chicago. His short documentary, BETWEEN THE HARVEST, screened at 20 festivals (including 3 Oscar Qualifiers).
Executive Producers: Mark Jonathan Harris, Rocque Trem
Producers: Yu Gu, Scott Drucker
Directors: Scott Drucker, Yu Gu
Cinematographers: Scott Drucker, Yu Gu
Sound Mix: Sung Rok Choi
Sound Design: Sung Rok Choi
Composer: Alex Zhang Hungtai
Editor: Christopher Makoto Yogi