When I saw Lesley Loksi Chan’s retrospective The World of Lesley Loksi Chan at Reel Asian three years ago, I was completely floored. The collection had stop motion animation, great storytelling and unforgettable performances from her son and sister. At last year’s opening night of Reel Asian she impressed again with Live Long and Prosper, an overhead presentation and performance piece in tribute to her Chinese grandmother. It’s only fitting that she headlines the youth program at Reel Asian with other great female directors.
Redress Remix is Lesley’s feature-length directorial debut. Here she explores Canada’s head tax on Chinese immigrants and its effect on families. She interviews survivors, including the youngest head taxpayer, and meets with family members across Canada to hear their struggles and history. Some of the most compelling interviews are with the Chinese Canadian soldiers who fought in WWII in hopes of giving Chinese Canadians the right to vote. Lesley uses her stop motion signature to illustrate their stories and many others. No Luck Club, an instrumental hip hop band from Vancouver, provides the soundtrack to the film, remixing interviews into their tracks. In addition, there is an online, interactive, multi-platform website created in conjunction with the film, which invites others to partake in a dialogue via a “living documentary” experience. Redress Remix is Lesley’s best work to date.
Other artists in this program include Teresa Chun-Wen Cheng with a very endearing short called Good Morning! Good Night! Cheng incorporates old audio recordings of her and her mother from her childhood into the picture. You hear Cheng’s utmost devotion to her parents and especially to her father who she says she wants to marry so they can be together for eternity. Many years later, an entire ocean separates them; she lives in Canada, while her parents reside in Taiwan. But like the audio recordings Cheng’s mother made when she was little, she has created this video to eternalize her love for her family.
Seeing Through the Spider’s Web is a reference to director Jane Kim’s mother who is losing her vision. The film uses archival pictures and grainy shots to help us see the way her mother now views the world – not just physically but through dissecting her past in Canada and Korea.
The last short in the program is an in your face performance piece called Asians Don’t Sing the Blues. Directors Janice Lee and Kathryn Lennon play on Asian stereotypes in this 10-minute rant involving costume changes, songs and questions of identity.
The Redress Remix screens at the National Film Board (NFB) on Wednesday, November 10th at 11 a.m. All the directors will be in attendance.
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