Synopsis by Mark Deming
On June 6, 1993, a battered cargo ship from China called Golden Venture ran aground off the coast of New York, and the Coast Guard rushed to the scene to rescue the ship and its crew. The Coast Guard had a big surprise waiting for them -- the ship held nearly 300 Chinese citizens who had paid up to 30,000 dollars each for the privilege of being smuggled into the United States. Under most circumstances, the illegal immigrants would have been swiftly returned to China, but the incident occurred not long after terrorists attempted to blow up the World Trade Center with a truck bomb. The passengers of the Golden Venture quickly fell victim to new immigration laws, with authorities hoping to use them as an example against foreign nationals attempting to enter the United States. Over ten years after the ship ran aground, many of the Golden Venture refugees remained in limbo, either still in prison, returned to China, or living underground, while activists on both the political left and right worked on their behalf to see them get an opportunity to gain the citizenship they dreamed of. Golden Venture is a documentary which follows the story of the ship's passengers, the gangsters who brought them there, the officials who wanted to keep them behind bars, and the citizens who fought to free them. Golden Venture received its world premiere at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.