September 19, 2020 2:00 pm EDT
Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong knew little about her father’s past. One day, she found his secret diary, written when he was a POW in a Japanese work camp during World War II. In remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, we will be screening “Every Day Is a Holiday,” followed by a Q&A and discussion about personal storytelling with Theresa. “Every Day Is a Holiday,” is the painful but life-affirming story of Paul Loong’s unlikely journey from Chinese teenager in Malaysia and a prisoner of war in Japan to merchant seaman, Veterans Affairs doctor and naturalized citizen of the country that liberated him: the United States.
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Last month UnionDocs, a collective of documentary filmmakers based in Williamsburg, opened their season, and their newly renovated screening space, with a showing of two films by Peter Hutton about life – of men and ships – at sea. The screening was following by a discussion moderated by filmmaker Jem Cohen.
The first film, “Images of Asian Music,” was shot during Hutton’s time as a merchant seaman in Southeast Asia in the mid-1970’s. It’s an assemblage of images from sea and shore, where we see seamen killing time below decks, people fleeing from a Bangkok fireworks show gone awry, and an unforgettable scene of young girl curled up asleep with a gargantuan python. But my attention was more on the second film, “At Sea,” which traces the life cycle of a typical merchant vessel. It doesn’t follow a single ship, but uses three different ships as examples to illustrate the birth (in the shipyard), life (at sea), and death (in the scrapyard) that all ships go through.>> Continue reading