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A Thousand Pebbles on the Ground


(30 min documentary, 2022)

Roger is a medical lab technician near Philadelphia working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic; he is Chinese-American and facing rising anti-Asian sentiment, he’s grieving the loss of his father, but he loves to perform and make people laugh.




Overview of the story and story structure:

Roger Lee, a Chinese American family man who has been working inside a hospital as a lab worker for more than 20 years, was also asked to assist nurses inside ICU for COVID patients during the pandemic.

After his father's death in September 2020, the filmmaker Toko Shiiki asked Roger to record/film a video diary, to share his experiences in and outside of his hospital, thoughts on his family/ Chinese Americans, and also his personal life.

During this pandemic, hate crime against Asian people in the US has jumped up to 1,900% more than the average in other years. As a health worker who also has been taking care of COVID patients, and as a Chinese American, Roger is conflicted to see the escalating numbers of hate crimes against Asian people due to the virus/pandemic.

Chinese immigrant parents taught him to be quiet and work hard. "Don't be visible in society." It is certainly one of the survival skills. But a fair amount of Asian people in the US feel they are like merely pebbles on the ground - no one cares. Usually, this pebble story is thought of as a sad story, but Roger shared a different point of view: A thousand pebbles on the ground have the power to hold society up.

To cope with difficulties, Roger plays music and makes others laugh. By sharing creative energy this way, he finds his happiness in life. In the year 2020, even though he lost his father and coworkers, opportunities to perform music in
public, and time with his friends and his family, he still keeps moving forward optimistically, to see which normalcies will return.


Losing is also finding. Roger will never give up.

Director Statement:


I believe that ignorance is one of the keys to creating a scapegoat in society. Knowing other races/cultures (or groups of people, etc) is one of the essential activities we humans can do to end violence.

I hope the viewers contemplate or rethink their prejudices against Asian immigrants/Asian Americans (and if that leads to rethinking about ANY people from unfamiliar cultures/countries for each self) and discuss what all of us could do to make this country/world a bit better place together.

You can now watch it on the PBS App, PBS website, or your local PBS station!


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