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Film Captures Last Year of Composer, Activist Fred Ho

A new film captures the final chapter in the life story of composer and political activist Fred Ho.
Image: Fred Ho
Fred Ho (aka Fred Wei-han Houn) on baritone saxophone plays in New York in 2002.Jack Vartoogian / Getty Images file

“It was in those moments when I was in the deepest bowels of hell that I met God,” booms Fred Ho’s voice in a new documentary film.

“Fred Ho’s Last Year” is making its New York premiere at the Museum of Chinese Americans (MOCA) during this year’s Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), followed by a panel discussion with director Steven de Castro, playwright Ruth Margraff (CAFE ANTASIA), and long-time friend Anne T. Greene.

The film chronicled the last year of the provocative avant-garde composer and political activist as he declared war on cancer and pursued his musical mission. Ho passed away April 12.

“I wasn’t going to be stuck in hell and God wasn’t going to accept me, so I came back to continue my mission," said Ho in the film. "Which is to do the music and politics no one else can or will do.”

“His legacy of thought and art is a rich resource for anyone interested in social justice,” notes composer and activist Francis Wong, “He contributed to cross-cultural understanding and presaged the diversity and multiculturalism that we have today….He looked at African American music for inspiration and tied it all back to the origins of the US.”