REUNIFICATION, a feature-length documentary that gives an insider’s view of the contemporary Asian immigrant experience, will have its Washington, D.C. premiere at DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival at Landmark Theatres Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Shaw/Howard University Neighborhood on Saturday, April 23, 6:00 pm. Award-winning Director Alvin Tsang will be present for the screening.
Between faded family photographs, old video footage, and interviews collected through the years, Alvin Tsang’s REUNIFICATION bears the look and feel of a documentary that’s taken decades to produce. It took all that time for Tsang to fully process his family’s history and confront his own emotionally turbulent upbringing. For the audience though, that passing of time is key to the film’s powerful portrayal of his tireless quest for emotional reconciliation.
When his mother and two siblings first immigrated from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, six-year-old Alvin was forced to stay behind with his working, and consequently absent, father. Spending the following three years often alone in an empty apartment, he longed for his family’s reunification. However, upon Alvin and his father’s arrival to America, that dream was utterly and permanently shattered under circumstances the filmmaker has yet to fully comprehend to this day.
REUNIFICATION won a Special Jury Prize at its San Diego Asian Film Festival world premiere and played to a sold out crowd. The filmmaker’s account of his family’s immigration from Hong Kong to Los Angeles is fraught with betrayal from his parents’ divorce, economic strife and communication meltdown between parents and children. Then, after 25 years, a sense of hope unfolds upon his return visit to Hong Kong. Though filmmaker Tsang began shooting the film in Los Angeles, he was only able to complete it in the East Coast because “[he] needed to be far away from home in order to see the whole picture and move on.” Regarding the film’s D.C. premiere, Tsang notes that “D.C. signifies the political center of the country, so this personal immigrant story shows a very intimate and human side of immigration to the audience.”
REUNIFICATION is a remarkable testament to healing through personal narrative filmmaking. Post-screening discussions and school talks by the filmmaker in San Diego and Hong Kong offered dramatic insights not only on contemporary Asian American immigrant experience, but particularly, divorce and family psychology. Most notably, audiences shared their own personal family stories during these discussions, thereby fostering a process of community healing.
Writer Aurorae Khoo (Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and CBS’s“Unforgettable”):
“REUNIFICATION beautifully documents modern Asian American immigration from the brave, personal perspective of filmmaker Alvin Tsang. It is a must-see for anyone interested in understanding the struggles, sacrifices, and triumphs of the Asian community, which can easily be marginalized and overlooked as the hardworking seamstress, factory worker, janitor, cook, etc… Through the lens of Tsang’s family, torn apart in the transition to America, Tsang lets us see these people as individuals.”
Arthur Chu(Salon.com) stated: “It’s a documentary unlike any I’ve seen – a film very clearly put together to say things through the language of film that the filmmaker is uncomfortable saying any other way… Of all the films I watched this year, REUNIFICATION is the one that affected me emotionally the most… the film that’s come closest to feeling like a truly distinct Asian-American language.”
“Told in an understated first person narration in which the pain, sadness, and underlying anger
barely surface, Tsang skillfully takes his family, as well as his audience, with him on his journey of healing and meaning‑making.” Dr. Mary Boncher, Director of Mental Health Treatment Service, New York Foundling
“A powerful film!… Such an immigrant story of a woman surviving and taking charge, and of her children being forced to work at an early age… with such a deep emotional cost of separation, even the risk of family breakup… are part of the price of living in America. Alvin Tsang brings to light the aspects of the immigrant experience that are often kept in the shadows.” Estella Habal, Professor Emeritus–San Jose State University, Asian American Studies
“While divorce is quite a common occurrence in America, it is a subject rarely discussed in the Asian community… the dialogue is raw with emotion, but rich and rewarding to understand the how and why the parents parted ways… This is an immigrant story that has universal appeal that warms the heart and enriches the soul.” Corky Lee, Undisputed, Unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate – NYC
Festival Information: DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival’s screening of REUNIFICATION is Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 6:00 pm; at Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, 807 V Street NW between 8th & 9th Streets, Washington DC 20004. Tickets are $15 via: www.apafilm.org/saturday-april-23rd/ Seats are limited. Get your tickets now. http://www.apafilm.org