Alumni-Directed Movie About Prisoner and Activist Screening at UC Davis

black and white photo of Eddy Zhang
Eddy Zhang

“Breathin’: The Eddy Zheng Story,” an award-winning documentary about a teenager tried as an adult who served 20 years in prison, will be shown at UC Davis on Jan. 31. Director Ben Wang, who earned a degree in Asian American studies from UC Davis in 2004, and Zheng will attend and take part in a discussion.

Convicted of kidnapping and robbery at age 16, Zheng became the youngest person incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. The movie paints an intimate portrait of Zheng as immigrant, son, prisoner and activist on his journey to freedom and rehabilitation. Wang follows Zheng in and out of parole hearings, organizing in the community, and facing deportation while examining the complexities of crime and punishment in the United States.

Photo of director and UC Davis graduate Ben Want
Ben Wang

“I first met Eddy Zheng in 2003 when I was at UC Davis,” Wang said. “I was struck by his tenacious commitment to educational and cultural empowerment, despite arduous circumstances such as solitary confinement, parole denials and immigration detention. His motto, ‘breathin’,’ expresses his philosophy of letting go of the past and focusing on the present moment — appreciating each breath.”

“Breathin’” recently had its Hong Kong premiere and won an award at the 5th Annual (In)Justice For All Film Festival in Chicago. It has been shown at many film festivals across the country.

The 6 p.m. event in Kleiber Hall is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Department of Asian American Studies in the College of Letters and Science.