Hopelessly romantic and brilliantly clever, the films and videos of Lesley Loksi Chan are like children’s storybooks infused with the complexities of love, sex, and motherhood. Underneath every story and insightful punch line are the intimate histories of the women in her family. Borrowing from classic cinema and pop culture, her films combine a unique feminist sensibility with youthful humour and imagination.
Through quaint collections of everyday objects and sharp unflinching wit, i no i no (2005) reveals some of Chan’s most personal and painful moments in a video diary about sexual abuse and maternal desire. Recounting her recurring dreams about The World of Suzie Wong (1960), Chan resists all expectations; rather than assume the role Suzie Wong, who is like Chan is a young Chinese woman with an illegitimate child, Chan instead imagines herself as the protagonist, Robert Lomax. In Compost Mon Amour (2007), we are introduced to the brief romantic history of Louanne Chan, and discover that a single mother’s desire for fresh romance cannot simply end with a broken heart.
Including her family in almost all of her work, Chan not only redefines family dynamics, but also the conventions of making a ‘personal’ autobiography. Co-written and starring her son, Piper, Bacon & Bovary (2007) is a story about a mother and son divided on the subject of bacon and books. A tale of unrequited love, Traveling to Tuesday (2007) is about a woman who falls in love with a fox and must build a time machine so that she can be with him forever. In a narrative based on Chan’s grandmother and mother, Wanda & Miles (2007) is about carrying the weight of heavy histories from one home to the next. Told from a child’s hopeful perspective, the film continues to remind us that when times are difficult, we must always look for new ways to hold on to things. Building personal stories into eternal metaphors, these sweet anecdotes of love dig deeply into the heart.
– Heather Keung