Part two of Cheuk Kwan’s 13-episode Chinese Restaurant series, On The Islands follows Asian families and culture in three countries: Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba.
Filmmakers in attendance
In the middle of the Indian Ocean sits Chez Manuel, a restaurant run by the owner’s wife Colette. In Colette we discover an innovative self-taught chef who serves up inventive new dishes combining Hakka Chinese, Creole and Indian flavors. Colette and Manuel, together with other members of the Hakka Chinese community, give us insights into the Hakka Chinese and their conservative traditions and values.
Trinidad and Tobago
In the hills of San Fernando is Soong’s Great Wall, the most famous Chinese restaurant on the island. This segment tells the rags-to-riches story of owner Maurice Soong whose passion for quality and service has won him widespread affection and respect. As they dance to the infectious calypso music of the island’s annual Carnival, members of the Soong family reflect on how their assimilation and personal choices will affect Maurice’s beloved restaurant.
In Havana’s Barrio Chino, the Lung Kong is a charitable clan association run by Alejandro Chiu. The association also runs a home for Chinese elderly and supports itself by operating a Chinese restaurant on the side. Back in Chinatown, we go beyond the “Chinese Fantasy” created by the Cuban government to discover the legacy of a community that dates back to 1847 and has now become truly Cuban
Cheuk Kwan was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. After earning his master’s degree in systems engineering in the U.S., he immigrated to Canada in 1976 where he embarked upon a successful career in information technology. In 1978 the community activist founded The Asianadian, a magazine dedicated to the promotion of Asian Canadian arts, culture and politics and the following year, helped lead a nation-wide fight for equality for Chinese Canadians. In 1995 Kwan joined the Harmony Movement, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering harmony and diversity in Canada through public education. Kwan studied film at New York University in 1998 before establishing his own production company, Tissa Films.