I could not have imagined how far this journey would take me, since winning Reel Asian’s Pitch competition in 2015.
Winning the pitch competition gave me the resources to complete The Suitcase, a film about a mother trying to create a better future for her family at all costs. This story resonated with me, and apparently with a lot of people throughout the creation process. Motivated by the story’s strength, many extremely talented individuals helped me make the film. In less than a year, we managed to write, produce, shoot, and edit the film into something I was proud of. And that’s rare.
The Suitcase had its world premiere on November 2016, at the 20th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, to a sold out crowd. We could not have asked for a more welcoming ovation. A multicultural audience watching a film made by a multicultural team. I could not have been more honoured and proud.
But the story gets even better. I noticed during the festival there was a partnership exchange with the Hong Kong Arts Centre. And to my delight, The Suitcase, was selected to screen at their 22nd ifva festival. I used to attend screenings there with my ex-girlfriend when I lived in Hong Kong, and would fantasize about the day I would screen my own film in that cinema.
Within 12 hours of landing in Hong Kong, I was sitting in a richly carpeted theatre, waiting to watch a film I worked so incredibly hard to produce. In the audience were Hong Kong friends and relatives who came out to watch The Suitcase. It was both flattering and exhilarating to witness such support from halfway around the world.
The Suitcase screened along with five other films, all tackling issues of “Home and Mobility.” It was a real treat to be paired with such brilliant filmmakers that took on such a difficult topic. Including Betty Xie’s The Home Promised.
After the screening I shared the stage with filmmakers from all over the world – an artist in residence from Singapore, a director from Hong Kong, a documentarian from Taiwan. We all spoke of our experiences creating our work. It was a cultural exchange of ideas and shared stories that I would never forget.
Thanks to Reel Asian for organizing such an incredible event. For taking a chance on my film, and for letting me share The Suitcase to Canada and beyond.
Written by Philip Leung, Director of The Suitcase