The Exiles


When energetic students gather in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, to protest for democratic reforms, their efforts are quickly shut down by Chinese government forces, who open fire on them. In the aftermath, several protestors leave for New York City to avoid persecution. Enter Christine Choy, an eccentric Chinese Korean filmmaker, who documents them as they build new lives while imagining new models for a democratic China and continuing to advocate for reform in the press. Almost three decades later, The Exiles incorporates Choy’s footage to bring the story into the present day by following up with the dissenters. With a tone of sober retrospection, Choy meets with Wu’er Kaixi, Yan Jiaqi, and Wan Runnan, who have settled in Taiwan, Maryland, and Paris, respectively, and all share a longing for home. Though the weight of the protestors’ unfulfilled hopes is undeniable, with The Exiles, directors Ben Klein and Violet Columbus have composed a powerful remembrance, and ultimately, an encouragement to “give up the fantasy, keep on the fight.”  KL    


Filmmaker Q&A available

Closed captioning available

This film is only available to viewers in the United States


Ben Klein, Violet Columbus


Ben Klein, Violet Columbus, Maria Chiu

Executive Producers

Steven Soderbergh, Chris Columbus, Eleanor Columbus


Connor K. Smith


Connor K. Smith, Alexander J. Hufschmid

Release Year


Festival Year



United States, Taiwan, France, China

Run Time

96 minutes


Partially subtitled