Down a Dark Stairwell

Stairway sign


2020 Season
New York digital edition
Thank you to everyone who joined our digital film festival screening + live Q&A on June 17. You can still watch the film until June 20, and view the recording of the Q&A with the filmmaker Ursula Liang, Brandon D. Anderson, founder & Executive Director of RAHEEM, the independent service for reporting police in the US, Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition & HRW’s US Program Advocacy Officer Dreisen Heath. Moderated by Gerry Johnson, Editor & Senior strategist, Human Rights Watch here on our Facebook page.

Film description: When a Chinese-American police officer kills an innocent, unarmed black man in an unlit stairwell of a New York City housing project on November 20, 2014, communities across the city erupt with demands for legal accountability. When he becomes the first New York Police Department officer convicted of an on-duty shooting in over a decade, the fight for justice becomes much more complicated. One of the largest Asian-American protests in history challenges an uneven legal system, while the African-American community is forced to defend its rights again after a series of police killings. Cries for justice amid systemic inequities finds disparate notions of fairness called into question.

Down a Dark Stairwell tells a crucial American story of how divisions among racial minorities ultimately serve white supremacy.”
- John Raphling, Senior Researcher, US Criminal Justice, Human Rights Watch

Ursula Liang
Country of Production: 
United States
English (with some Cantonese and Mandarin)
Filmmaker Bio(s): 
Ursula Liang

Ursula is a journalist-turned-filmmaker. She worked at The New York Times Op-Docs, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, ESPN The Magazine, Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI, StirTV, the Jax Show, Hyphen magazine and currently freelances as a film and television producer. Various producing credits include: One October, Tough Love, Wo Ai Ni Mommy, Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge, UFC Primetime. She directed, produced and shot the award-winning film, 9-Man: A Streetball Battle in the Heart of Chinatown, which aired on public television and was called an "absorbing documentary" by the New York Times. Down a Dark Stairwell is her second feature as a director. Ursula is a Brown Girls Doc Mafia board member and belongs to A-DOC and Film Fatales. She lives in the Bronx, NY.