In major cities worldwide, Chinatown neighbourhoods are recognizable markers of urban cosmopolitanism, and of xenophobia and degeneration, both in the past and the present. Home to extended families and a venue for bustling restaurants and markets, they struggle to survive, coping with aging populations and the incursions of gentrification and downtown development. Meanwhile, a different sort of Chinatown can be found in the strip malls of suburban sprawl, redefining the geography as well as the concept of Chinatown beyond the traditional ethnic enclave. Reflecting the migrations and activities of those who have built them, urban and suburban Chinatowns have become universal destinations, whether it’s for the Chinese diaspora seeking the sights, sounds and smells of home, or for the non-Chinese resident and tourist.
In Suite Suite Chinatown, seven artistically diverse, award-winning Chinese Canadian filmmakers from the Greater Toronto Area are posed the question, “What is your Chinatown?” Their responses are woven into a multi-genre cinematic vision of Chinatown where anything is possible and the unexpected becomes expected. Suite Suite Chinatown imagines a place where disposable materials take on mythic qualities, where family histories and personal memories unfold in pixelated layers, and where the history of foreign Chinatowns can be turned on and off like a light switch. Despite their different approaches to the theme, these second-generation filmmakers are unified by a nostalgic concern for the past, present and future of each Chinatown incarnation.
Live music adds another creative layer to Suite Suite Chinatown, in the form of a collaboration between the filmmakers, the composers Arthur Yeung and Theo Mathien, and the Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School Band.
– Aram Siu Wai Collier
Lesley Loksi Chan, Lillian Chan, Aram Siu Wai Collier, Heather Keung, Serena Lee, Howie Shia, Joyce Wong
Aram Siu Wai Collier
Arthur Yeung, Theo Mathien, Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, John Volpe, Vince Gassi, Richard Jatiouk, Scarborough Arts Council
DIRECTORS: Lesley Loksi Chan, Lillian Chan, Aram Siu Wai Collier, Heather Keung, Serena Lee, Howie Shia, Joyce Wong. MUSICIANS: Arthur Yeung, Theo Mathien, Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, John Volpe, Vince Gassi, Richard Jatiouk, Scarborough Arts Council
Lesley Loksi Chan is an award-winning film and video artist from Hamilton. She graduated from York University’s film and video program and has degrees in anthropology and women’s studies. She was Reel Asian’s 2007 Canadian Spotlight artist and has recently directed Redress Remix.
Lillian Chan is an animator/designer/filmmaker. Her award-winning NFB animation, Jaime Lo, Small and Shy, is about a Chinese Canadian girl who misses her father, whose job has taken him overseas. Chan has worked for professional studios such as House of Cool and Guru Animation.
Chinese-English-Dutch Aram Siu Wai Collier was born and raised in San Francisco, where he studied film and worked on the independently produced PBS documentaries Refugee and Who I Became. He is currently pursuing an MFA in film production at York University while working as a freelance editor.
Heather Keung graduated from the Ontario College of Art & Design. Her work has shown in curated programs worldwide — Montreal, San Francisco, Berlin, Helsinki and Budapest. She is an active contributor to local arts organizations such as Images Festival, Trinity Square Video and Vtape, and she is currently the Artistic Director at Reel Asian.
Serena Lee graduated from the Ontario College of Art & Design and is pursuing an MFA at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. Her work has recently been showcased at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre and the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery in Toronto. She has contributed to numerous arts organizations, including Reel Asian, Images Festival, Nuit Blanche and XPACE Cultural Centre.
Howie Shia was born in Saskatoon and is a founding member of the Toronto-based music/design/animation/film studio PPF House. He has worked for the NFB, CBC, UN-HABITAT, YMCA and Nike. His short Flutter won the Tokyo International Anime Fair’s Open Entries Grand Prix, and was named Best Short Film at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival.
Joyce Wong is a Toronto-based motion picture director and photographer. Her work is deeply personal, often involving love and nostalgia, with multicultural themes interwoven with comedic narratives. Her films, Souvenirs from Asia and Banana Bruises, have screened at international film festivals. She recently participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus.
Arthur Yeung is a classically trained pianist and composer. He has presented his collaborative performance, featuring electronic music and dance Falling Line, in Toronto and Montreal. He has also been integral to indie bands such as We Love and Crown.
Theo Mathien is a composer who was born and raised in Toronto and is now based in Montreal. He writes both instrumental and electronic music and has recently had his works performed at the National Arts Centre and the National Film Board of Canada. Currently, he is finishing a series of pieces for the Canada Council for the Arts.
Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School (MWCSS) is a founding member of the organization Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning. The learning community at MWCSS advocates that student formation is best facilitated through a program of self-directed learning. It offers a strong extracurricular program in the arts and sports, and encourages participation in a wide range of clubs and activities.
John Volpe, Stage Band Director
Vince Gassi, Music Teacher/Project co-ordinator
Richard Jatiouk, Head of Music/Project co-ordinator
Scarborough Arts Council (SAC) is a not-for-profit organization with the mandate to serve Scarborough’s community by providing programs and services to promote and encourage development and involvement in the arts.