Thousand Pieces of Gold

Set in a mining town in the 1880s, Thousand Pieces of Gold tells the real-life story of Lalu (Rosalind Chao), a young Chinese woman whose desperately poor... Read more

Thousand Pieces of Gold

Directed by Nancy Kelly

Year: 1990
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Country: U.S.
Language: English
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Thousand Pieces of Gold

Rosalind Chao
Chris Cooper
Will Oldham
Michael Paul Chan
Dennis Dun
Jimmie F. Skaggs

Directed by Nancy Kelly
Writer Anne Makepeace (Screenwriter Anne Makepeace, adapted from the novel by Ruthanne Lum McCunn)
Produced by Kenji Yamamoto and Nancy Kelly

Set in a mining town in the 1880s, Thousand Pieces of Gold is based on the classic novel by Ruthanne Lum McCunn with a screenplay by award-winning filmmaker Anne Makepeace (Tribal Justice). Upon its release in 1990, the film won immediate acclaim for its portrayal of the real-life story of Lalu (Rosalind Chao), a young Chinese woman whose desperately poor parents sell her into slavery. She is trafficked to a nefarious saloonkeeper in Idaho's gold country. Eventually Charlie (Chris Cooper), a man of different ilk, wins her in a poker game and slowly gains her trust. Way ahead of its time, the film resonates even more powerfully today in the era of #MeToo. Nancy Kelly became a victim of prejudice against women directors within the American film industry and was never offered another movie to direct in spite of extraordinary reviews from critics, some of whom compared her talent to that of John Ford.


 "...a cross between a Western period piece and a romantic drama and features two incredible performances between Chao and Cooper. It practically swept me off my feet."

"A cross between a Western period piece and a romantic drama and features two incredible performances between Chao and Cooper. It practically swept me off my feet."

"A small gem of US independent filmmaking that’s well worth rediscovering."

"Excellent. Kelly’s direction and Anne Makepeace’s script gurgle with frustration at the political and social realities. Cooper is nothing short of galvanizing." 

"Uncommonly good. This exceptionally fine, independently produced film is a small-scale, clear-eyed, sharply observant offers the audience a vivid and involving look at a fascinating chapter in American history that usually is relegated to the status of footnote." 

"The entire film revolves around Rosalind Chao’s assured performance. The story is an interesting one and is deftly handled by Nancy Kelly to produce a film that tells Lalu’s story without over-romanticising."

"This movie is beautiful, it is inspiring, it is tragic, and it is scary all at the same time."

"[Nancy Kelly's] great achievement here is in simulating 19th century Mongolia and the American West, putting flesh and blood people in those locales and telling a grounded story on a shoestring, making it look like an A-picture."

"Ahead of the times. As Lalu, Rosalind Chao brings an emotional intensity to the role, while the always superb Chris Cooper complements Chao with a calm, thoughtful presence."

"Thousand Pieces of Gold features stunning landscapes of a developing settlement and its surroundings while immersing us in the mud and mess of the wild west. A worthwhile exploration of individuality and agency as well as a beguiling love story." 

"Rosalind Chao lights up the screen. The camera loves Chao: Her deeply expressive eyes dominate the screen and envelop the viewer in heartfelt emotion. It’s hard to imagine that it’s Kelly’s only fiction movie. Kelly is in full command of the story, which is gorgeously photographed by Bobby Bukowski and keenly edited by Kenji Yamamoto, along with a vivid score by seven-time Emmy winner Gary Malkin."

"Rosalind Chao is a marvelously expressive actress. Chris Cooper, as a gentleman among roughnecks, has one of the most naturally touching faces on the American screen." 

"Rosalind Chao's performance is a wonder. Angry and romantic, Gold tells a powerful, poignant tale."

"A genuine triumph. This is classic Western filmmaking: the lucid lyricism of a John Ford, a Budd Boetticher, a George Stevens. But, since Kelly is dealing with different kinds of conflicts, the film always seems to be opening up a new world."

"Kelly's astute direction is all the more noteworthy because her only previous films were the documentaries Cowgirls and A Cowhand's Song. Anne Makepeace's script deftly touches on the loneliness of the raucous miners even as their anti-Chinese bigotry spills over into violence. The jewel in the crown is Rosalind Chao's stunning performance as Lalu Nathoy."

"Even in moments of terrible anguish, Rosalind Chao projects the character's steely will."

Press Kit

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Venue City Date
Museum of Fine Arts Houston virtual screening room Houston 1591761600Starts June 10
Coral Gables Art Cinema virtual screening room Coral Gables 1591329600Starts June 5
The Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center virtual screening room Lincoln 1590984000Starts June 1
Amherst Cinema virtual screening room Amherst 1590724800Starts May 29
Film Streams virtual screening room Omaha 1590120000Starts May 22
The Nightlight Cinema virtual screening room Akron 1590120000Starts May 22
Strand Theater - PA virtual screening room Zelienople 1590120000Starts May 22
Hawaii International Film Festival virtual screening room Honolulu 1589515200Starts May 15
Nelson Atkins Museum (Tivoli) virtual screening room Kansas City 1589515200Starts May 15
Clinton Street Theater virtual screening room Portland 1589515200Starts May 15
Midtown Cinema virtual screening room Harrisburg 1589515200Starts May 15
Sea View Theatre virtual screening room Eastsound 1589515200Starts May 15
Fox Theatre virtual screening room Toronto 1589342400Starts May 13
Pensacola Cinema Art virtual screening room Pensacola 1588910400Starts May 8
Brattle Theatre virtual screening room Cambridge 1588910400Starts May 8
Parkway Theatre - MN virtual screening room Minneapolis 1588737600Starts May 6
Manlius Art Cinema virtual screening room Manlius 1588737600Starts May 6
The Loft Cinema virtual screening room Tucson 1588305600Starts May 1
American Cinematheque virtual screening room Los Angeles 1588305600Starts May 1
Suns Cinema virtual screening room Washington 1588305600Starts May 1
Plimouth Cinema virtual screening room Plymouth 1588305600Starts May 1
Wexner Center for the Arts virtual screening room Columbus 1588305600Starts May 1
Salem Cinema virtual screening room Salem 1588305600Starts May 1
Lyric Theatre virtual screening room Blacksburg 1588305600Starts May 1
Lark Theater virtual screening room Larkspur 1588132800Starts April 29
Corazon Cinema virtual screening room St. Augustine 1588046400Starts April 28
Darkside Cinema virtual screening room Corvallis 1588046400Starts April 28
Capri Theatre virtual screening room Montgomery 1587700800Starts April 24
Davis Varsity Theatre virtual screening room Davis 1587700800Starts April 24
Autry Museum virtual screening room Los Angeles 1587700800Starts April 24
The Frida Cinema virtual screening room Santa Ana 1587700800Starts April 24
Rialto Cinemas virtual screening room Sebastopol 1587700800Starts April 24
Sebastiani Theatre virtual screening room Sonoma 1587700800Starts April 24
Fort Lauderdale Film Festival virtual screening room Fort Lauderdale 1587700800Starts April 24
LeFont Film Society virtual screening room Atlanta 1587700800Starts April 24
Gene Siskel Film Center virtual screening room Chicago 1587700800Starts April 24
Countryfest Community Cinema virtual screening room Dauphin 1587700800Starts April 24
Fine Arts Theatre virtual screening room Asheville 1587700800Starts April 24
Red River Theatres virtual screening room Concord 1587700800Starts April 24
BAM Rose Cinemas virtual screening room Brooklyn 1587700800Starts April 24
The Little Theatre virtual screening room Rochester 1587700800Starts April 24
Cincinnati World Cinema virtual screening room Cincinnati 1587700800Starts April 24
Tower Theatre virtual screening room Oklahoma City 1587700800Starts April 24
Rodeo Cinema virtual screening room Oklahoma City 1587700800Starts April 24
Harris Theater virtual screening room Pittsburgh 1587700800Starts April 24
Park City Film Series virtual screening room Park City 1587700800Starts April 24
Vermont International Film Festival virtual screening room Burlington 1587700800Starts April 24
Pickford Film Center virtual screening room Bellingham 1587700800Starts April 24
Liberty Theatre virtual screening room Camas 1587700800Starts April 24
Northwest Film Forum virtual screening room Seattle 1587700800Starts April 24
Magic Lantern Theatre virtual screening room Spokane 1587700800Starts April 24
San Diego Asian Film Foundation San Diego 1586491200Starts April 10
Pacific Arts Movement virtual screening room San Diego 1586491200Starts April 10
Smith Rafael Film Center virtual screening room San Rafael 1585886400Starts April 10

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