Thousand Pieces of Gold

The true story of one Chinese immigrant’s experiences on America’s western frontier during the gold rush. Forced to become a slave, Lalu tries to make her way through a strange country filled with white demons.


Born in China to an impoverished family, Lalu Nathoy, is sold into slavery by her father and taken to San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, where she is sold again to an agent for an Idaho saloonkeeper during the gold rush. Stripped of her identity and renamed “China Polly,” she escapes the fate of most women in her position by resisting her owner’s attempts to force her into prostitution. After struggling with nostalgia and homesickness, Lalu develops a pragmatic determination to create a life based on the realities of a rapidly changing West.


Director: Nancy Kelly

Associate Producer: Rachel V. Lyon

Writers: Ruthanne Lum McCunn (novel), Anne Makepeace (screenplay)

Stars: Rosalind Chao, Chris Cooper and Michael Paul Chan

Starring Rosalind Chao and Academy Award-winner Chris Cooper. Directed by Nancy Kelly. Based on the novel by Ruth Lum McCunn. Runner-up in audience polls for best film, actress and director at the 1990 Seattle International Film Festival.

“A Western, full of sweeping scenery and an even more sweeping sense of American history. Shares many of the virtues of Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning epic [Dances With Wolves], without the hype… --Carol Cling, Las Vegas Review Journal

“Independent in the best sense of the word … A small but genuine triumph … The emotions are felt, the textures are true; the film, rich and moving.” –Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times