A young man, larger than life on the silver screen, points out his favourite parts of Toronto’s downtown Chinatown before looking straight into the camera and declaring, “I’m Vietnamese.”
“The idea of Chinatown is very unifying in that everybody knows what it is,” said Aram Siu Wai Collier, project director of the movie, Suite Suite Chinatown, part of the 14th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.
The project asked seven Chinese-Canadian filmmakers a personal question: What’s your version of Chinatown?
“It was a good idea that could go in a lot of different areas and we were all brought together by an ethnic thread,” Collier said.
At the Nov. 17 screening, the front atrium of the Scarborough Civic Centre was transformed into a packed theatre.
“I noticed there was a lot of young Chinese artists and filmmakers, and I thought it would be great to get everyone in a room together and see what we can put together,” Collier said.
Director Heather Keung used old home video footage for her segment of Suite Suite Chinatown.
“My work was inspired by the idea of creating our own histories and our own memories through home archival movies,” Keung said.
Her part of the film focused on her family gathering for a huge feast.
“I grew up in Mississauga but going into Chinatown as a kid always meant big family gatherings,” she said.
The half-hour film was accompanied by live music from composer Theo Mathien, stage band director John Volpe, project coordinator Richard Jatiouk, the Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School band, and Angie Molina and Arthur Yeung a duo known as the Exercisers.
The film festival ran from Nov. 9 to 15. The event at the Scarborough Civic Centre was presented in partnership with the Scarborough Arts Council.