Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Shih-Ching Tsou came to New York to do graduate work in media studies at the New School. There she met Sean Baker, with whom she would work on his first feature film, Four Letter Words. A partnership developed with Acts of Worship, a behind-the-scenes featurette. It was their next project, the full-length feature Take Out, that brought co-directors Tsou and Baker to the attention of the film industry.
Take Out is a day-in-the-life rendering of an illegal Chinese immigrant, Ming Ding, who delivers Chinese take-out in New York City. He is counting on the tip money he earns from Upper West Siders to pay back a huge debt he owes to the smugglers who brought him to the United States — money he has been told he must deliver by day’s end. The film’s realism is thanks to interviews that Tsou and Baker conducted with illegal immigrants in New York and time spent observing the action in the storefront restaurant where they shot Take Out.
Take Out debuted at the 2004 Slamdance Film Festival and has been screened at more than 25 other festivals. It won the Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award and Best Feature award at the Nashville Film Festival. Tsou and Baker are teaming up again to co-direct their second feature, Left-Handed Girl.