The Six
The Six (2021)
Directed byArthur Jones
Produced byLuo Tong
Distributed by
Release date
  • April 16, 2021 (2021-04-16) (China)
Running time
107 minutes
LanguageEnglish & Chinese (subtitles)

The Six (simplified Chinese: 六人-泰坦尼克上的中国幸存者; traditional Chinese: 六人-鐵達尼上的中國倖存者) is a 2021 documentary film directed by Arthur Jones and produced by Luo Tong.[1][2] The film chronicles the previously untold story of the six Chinese survivors of RMS Titanic, as well as exploring the legacy of Chinese exclusion laws in Canada, the United States, and UK. The film is executive produced by Titanic director James Cameron.[2]


There were eight Chinese male passengers traveling in third-class aboard Titanic, all of whom were professional mariners heading to New York to work on a fruit steamer. Six of the men survived the sinking. Four escaped on the same lifeboat as Titanic's owner J. Bruce Ismay, whilst another was the last person rescued alive from the water.[3] Upon arrival in New York, the six Chinese men were held at the border, and deported within 24 hours. Various media at the time reported stories that they had behaved dishonourably (six of the eight survived whereas only 16% of other third class men survived), and employed racist language and stereotypes,[3][4] which Nancy Wang Yuen notes was, "reflective of the Chinese Exclusion Act that was in effect at the time."[5]

Little was known of what happened to them after 1912, and research by the filmmakers suggests that some never even told their own families that they had been on the ship.[6][7] Chinese migration to countries such as the United States and Canada in the late 19th to mid-20th centuries were defined by anti-Chinese immigration laws, which may explain why the survivors stories were forgotten. According to Luo Tong, "They were mistreated not just in the days following the Titanic disaster, they were living under the shadow of discrimination their whole lives; even their families now are affected by that."[1]

According to Professor Lily Cho, who participated in the production of The Six, the film uses popular interest in Titanic to highlight the "long history of anti-Asian racism." Several media outlets have drawn parallels between the experiences of the six, and the recent rise in anti-Asian violence that precipitated the #StopAsianHate movement.[5][8][9][1] The role of government policy, propaganda and media in legitimizing racism, as well as a secrecy for fear of deportation in immigrant communities, have both been highlighted.[8][1] The film itself draws parallels between the Chinese Exclusion Act and Executive Order 13769.


The idea of making a film about Titanic's Chinese passengers was originally suggested to Jones by Steven Schwankert, a marine historian who had collaborated with him on the 2013 documentary The Poseidon Project.[10] According to Schwankert, Jones was initially skeptical about covering a subject as well-documented as Titanic, but the question of how so little was known about the six Chinese, compared to the other survivors, stuck with them. “These were the only guys amongst those 700 that no one had ever claimed. They just completely disappeared. Why did they get ignored?” he told The Washington Post.[11] Historian Renqiu Yu, who participated in the production of The Six, notes that the pervasive Anglo-Saxon perspective of Titanic has allowed little room for survivors such as the Chinese.[12]

Early in production, the filmmakers found Tom Fong (方國民), who claimed to be the son of survivor Fang Lang (Wing Sun Fong; 方榮山). Fong did not learn his father had been on Titanic until after Wing Sun Fong 's death in 1985 and was able to verify the story with the help of the filmmakers.[13] The filmmakers were able to trace other survivors, including Lee Bing, who settled in Ontario, Canada,[14] and Chang Chip, who died in London in 1914. All eight were found to have come from Taishan, in Guangdong province, China.[15]

The filmmaker's initial focus on Titanic shifted as their research uncovered more about what happened to the survivors in the years after 1912, with Jones noting the effect that their experiences still had on their families and communities over a century later. "Titanic was part of a much bigger story about race and immigration that is still playing out today," he told Variety.[10]

The Six received international media attention in 2017, when a concept trailer went viral. The majority of filming would take place in 2018–2019, with James Cameron recording an interview and coming on board as executive producer later in production.[10]


The Six was originally scheduled for theatrical release in 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It had its first festival screening at Hainan Island International Film Festival in December 2020. It was released in cinemas nationwide in Mainland China on April 16, 2021.[5] The Six had its North American premiere at Vancouver International Film Festival in 2021.[16]

A companion book for the film is being written by Steven Schwankert.[17]

Film Festival Country Notes
Hainan Island International Film Festival China Best Documentary (Nominated)
Beijing International Film Festival China Special Jury Award
Bangkok International Documentary Awards Thailand Best Documentary (Nominated)
Shanghai International Film Festival China
Vancouver International Film Festival Canada North American Premiere
Immigration Film Festival USA
Friday Harbor Film Festival USA
Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival USA
KDoc Film Festival Canada
Silk Road Film Festival Ireland


The Six has received positive media and reviews. Lovia Gyarkye, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, called it, 'a clear-eyed examination of global racism and various nations’ anti-Chinese immigration policies,' that presents a 'penetrating argument for looking beyond written history for narrative reconstruction.[18] These views were echoed by VIFF's programming team, who note the film 'Masterfully [intertwines] the history of American immigration policy at the time of the Titanic to contemporary views on race and citizenship,' adding it uncovers, 'the sacrifices and discrimination these men suffered, finally granting them their rightful place in history.'[19] The National Observer gave it four out of five stars, calling it 'engrossing'.[20]

At the 2021 Vancouver International Film Festival, the film won the Audience Award for most popular film in the Insights program.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Yeo, Amanda (2021-05-07). "Titanic documentary 'The Six' spotlights the Chinese survivors the world forgot". Mashable. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  2. ^ a b "A Century After the Titanic Sank, a Film Tries to Rescue 6 Survivors' Stories". The New York Times. 2021-08-21. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  3. ^ a b Wang, Amy (April 29, 2018). "Why you've never heard of the six Chinese men who survived the Titanic". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ "Titanic: Searching for the 'missing' Chinese survivors". BBC News. 2021-04-16. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  5. ^ a b c Yam, Kimmy (15 April 2021). "Documentary highlights Chinese Titanic survivors barred from U.S., erased from history". Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  6. ^ Johnson, Neil (22 September 2019). "Janesville man shares untold story of his father, a Titanic survivor". GazetteXtra. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  7. ^ Wang, Amy B. "Why you've never heard of the six Chinese men who survived the Titanic". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-04-15.
  8. ^ a b "Six Chinese men survived the sinking of the Titanic — and one inspired a controversial scene in the 1997 film". 2021-05-04. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  9. ^ "'The Six' Looks At How 6 Chinese Men's Lives Unfolded After They Survived The Titanic". Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  10. ^ a b c Frater, Patrick (2021-03-24). "True Story of China's Titanic Survivors, Executive Produced by James Cameron, Heads to Cinemas". Variety. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  11. ^ "Why you've never heard of the six Chinese men who survived the Titanic". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  12. ^ "- YouTube". Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  13. ^ Johnson, Neil (22 September 2019). "Janesville man shares untold story of his father, a Titanic survivor". GazetteXtra. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  14. ^ "New film documents life of Galt Titanic survivor". 11 December 2018. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  15. ^ Kuo, Kaiser. "Searching for the six Chinese survivors of the 'Titanic'". SupChina. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  16. ^ "Playing at VIFF Centre". Retrieved 2021-10-13.
  17. ^ "A new film explores the stories of 6 men from China who survived the Titanic sinking". The World from PRX. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  18. ^ Gyarkye, Lovia (2021-10-12). "'The Six': Film Review | Vancouver 2021". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2021-10-13.
  19. ^ "VIFF | The Six". Retrieved 2021-10-13.
  20. ^ Reviews, Volkmar Richter |; Entertainment; October 6th 2021, Vancouver culture | (2021-10-06). "Movies: the big winner from Cannes, and more from VIFF, including our Oscars hopeful". Canada's National Observer. Retrieved 2021-10-13.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Steve Newton, "Vancouver International Film Fest announces award winners". The Georgia Straight, October 13, 2021.