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