By Natalie Tsui
Over the course of one’s life, one will encounter numerous Chinatowns—each with its own peculiarities. Be it the historical importance of a long-gone Laundromat or the specific taste of your favorite egg tart, each Chinatown evokes a different series of emotions and memories in each person.
SUITE SUITE CHINATOWN is a commissioned piece emerging from Chinese Canadian filmmakers (Howie Shia, Lillian Chan, Serena Lee, Lesley Loksi Chan, Aram Siu Wai Collier, Heather Keung, and Joyce Wong) grappling with the question, “What is your Chinatown?” Their answer was part film, part live musical performance, part karaoke, part home video, and part comic book. Rather than create a visual study of the actual space, this collective of artists merged a variety of mediums into an extremely hip “happening.”
As a Chinese American, I felt a particular tie to each of the integrated shorts as they gestured to the peculiarities of the Chinese trans-cultural experience. I was reminded of my family’s hoarding of condiment packets and plastic bags, the awkwardness of gatherings with aunties and uncles (who always seemed more foreign than relative), the MacGyverish tendencies of my grandmother (which sometimes did go horribly awry…), and the visual tactility of walking through a Chinatown. More than these cultural memories, Suite Suite Chinatown presented a myriad portrait of what it means to be in a vibrant transnational space and recreates the experience of Chinatown with an interactive convergence of mediums.
The film was rounded up perfectly with a panel discussion (featuring Konrad Ng, Carolyn Goossen, David Chiu, the filmmakers, and the musical performers) and a wonderfully awesome reception sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada.
Natalie is a participant in this year’s Verizon Student Delegate Program