VIFF Film Review - The Six (2021)

Title card for the documentary The Six

The RMS Titanic disaster happened over 109 years ago and it is remarked as one of the deadliest wreckages of a single ship in history. The story is known worldwide and the ever popular movie based on this tragedy, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio, was a box office hit.  Of the 2,223 passengers and crew abroad the Titanic, more than 700 people survived the ship wreck and most of their stories are well documented. What is not well known is that there were eight Chinese people aboard the ship; six of them survived and of those six, one of them was the very last person to be rescued. Who were these eight individuals, what happened to them during the crash and how did six of them survive? This documentary seeks to answer those questions and finally tell their stories.

It’s not an easy task trying to locate information on these six individuals who survived. From lost records to mistranslation of names to the reluctance of the older generation to talk about the past, the research team comes across various barriers in finding out who these survivors were. There’s also the trouble of false claims from people who just want to be a part of the story of the Titanic with no tangible proof that they are related to someone who was actually on the ship. The information that they do discover is quite incredible.

“Third class single male passengers were berthed near the front of the ship, so when the bow hit the iceberg, they would have been among the first to feel the vibration of the collision. The Chinese passengers would have been the first to have known something was wrong.” They were also in a place in the ship that made survival of this tragedy incredibly difficult. The majority of passengers who perished in the Titanic crash were third class passengers. The fact that six of the eight Chinese passengers survived is remarkable when the odds were set against them. And although they went through a horrific disaster, their struggles were just beginning. “This documentary uncovers the sacrifices and discrimination these men suffered, finally granting them their rightful place in history”.

The Six will be available to stream via VIFF Connect and limited in-cinema screenings.

The 40th annual Vancouver International Film Festival is on now until Oct 11.

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