A-Town Boyz is a feature-length documentary about the growing up experiences of Asian American men in Atlanta, Georgia, and the lure of gang life for youths who struggle to integrate into society. It gives a rare insight into the lives of second generation immigrants who do not fit into the privileged ‘tiger’ class, grappling with complex questions about ethnicity and assimilation, lack of opportunity and a life of crime. Delving deep into the underground Asian gang culture of Atlanta, the film shows how non-achievers turn to gang life to find a kinship they never knew at home or school, and a means to make money they never had. In so doing, it captures an edge of frame world that explodes popular stereotypes of Asian Americans as people who are ‘good at math and play the violin.’ It is a bold and provocative film that offers real intimacy of experience, forcing the viewer to think about these issues through a human lens.
But beneath all this, A-Town Boyz is essentially a story of love, conflict and the search for identity. Shot in an observational style by the multi award-winning director Eunice Lau, and executive produced by Spike Lee, this is a story of the American Dream derailed. It navigates through the lives of two second-generation Asian immigrants and prominent members of Atlanta gangs. They are each at a crossroad in their lives, eager to break free of the gang, but struggling to find routes out. Over the course of three years, we follow them through a volatile and unpredictable period of their lives. Along the way, they talk about their past struggles, their present search for redemption and future aspirations for themselves and their children. Ultimately, the film is a vérité on the vulnerability of immigrant families in America - the problems they face due to poverty, cultural and linguistic barriers and the overt racism encountered at school.