- Culture, Society, Personal Doc, Contemporary Issues, and Social Issues
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When Home Is Elsewhere (2021) is an offshoot inspired by my previous personal feature documentary, Reunification (2015). While Reunification reflects on the circumstances surrounding my family’s immigration from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in the 1980s and my parents’ divorce, When Home Is Elsewhere explores the idea of home, and the anxiety of not having "found home." This more abstract need is explored through my father’s life experiences - a pre-teen orphan, a refugee from Vietnam who escaped to Hong Kong, an immigrant who moved his family to the United States, a divorcee, a father.
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My father is a frugal and practical man. At 74 years old, his apartment is empty - no bed, no sofa, only a makeshift table small enough for one person to eat on. Any sound creates an echo. When I asked him why he doesn't make his home more comfortable, he said, "This is not my home. I may move somewhere else tomorrow." His response reminds me of a nomad, a homeless, a refugee - someone who is ready to flee on short notice. His home has always been scanty of material goods. But this echo is just unbearable! In this film, I want to understand what he is looking for and why he is always ready to leave to go elsewhere. I want to know how his refugee experience shaped him and whether global events have impacts greater and more lasting than we could ever comprehend.
THE FILM THAT INSPIRED WHEN HOME IS ELSEWHERE (2021)
Filmed over a 17-year period, Reunification (2015) gives an insider view on the contemporary immigrant experience, family psychology, and personal filmmaking. This award-winning (Special Jury Prize, San Diego Asian Film Festival) documentary is a personal reflection on my family’s migration from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in the early 1980s – fraught with betrayal from my parents’ divorce, economic strife and communication meltdown between my parents and us children. Screened locally and internationally, this film sparked deep and empathetic dialogues surrounding migration and family.
AT WHAT STAGE IS WHEN HOME IS ELSEWHERE?
I have already interviewed my father on camera numerous times since 2005, including while we lived together in Los Angeles and when he visited me in New York. I also have film footage of our trips in Vietnam and the various places where he temporarily lived (Puerto Rico and Hong Kong). Collectively, these footage reflect on his mental, emotional and physical changes through the past decade and a half. Depending on the status of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am planning to conduct a final interview with my father and shoot additional b-roll footage in San Diego later this year. In the meantime, post-production has already begun.
Although this film focuses on one person's life - my father's - this is a universal story of migration. It is a story of a man who had to escape from his homeland as a refugee to avoid a war, to start anew without family, how he lost his new family, and his life-long struggle to find a home. I am inspired to make this film because it is more relevant than ever in light of the refugee crisis and the growing wars around the world. By understanding one man's experience from the impact of war and politics, I want to humanize the refugee and immigrant experience.
HOW WILL YOUR TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTION BE USED?
Your generous support will help to primarily cover the editing costs, original music soundtrack, color grading and final sound mix. I hope that you will become my partner in this meaningful journey.
- in production
- Alvin Tsang ... Director, Writer, Producer, Editor
- Prod. Co.
- HawkFinn Productions
- United States
- Years of Production
- US, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Caribbean Islands
- Release year
- Sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA); Grants from New York State Cultural on the Arts (NYSCA) & Queens Council for the Arts Grant (QCA)
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