Cheuk Kwan

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Cheuk Kwan




Chinese RestaurantsThis set of films explores the lives and stories of families in many countries who own Chinese restaurants. Disc 3 includes a Canadian story, that of Jim Cook who ran the New Outlook Café in Saskatchewan for 40 years.2004

Kwan, born in Hong Kong, educated in Singapore, Japan, and the United States and currently living in Toronto, Canada, is himself a Chinese diasporic. An information technologist turned political activist turned filmmaker, Kwan’s vision for the film project is to complete a total of 13 countries using the trope of Chinese restaurants as a tool for investigating the stories of Chinese diaspora as they migrate, assimilate and formulate new identities in their new homelands. Struck by the vast legacy of Chinese travels/migrations dating as far back as the Ming Dynasty and the virtual ubiquity of Chinese restaurants encountered during his travels, Kwan has harbored a dream to make this film series for the past 25 years. Unable to obtain funding from the Canadian government and with the ever-decreasing costs of video production vis à vis digital technology, his project is self-funded. (text by Angeal Choi)

Chinese Restaurants[edit]

Chinese Restaurants tells the story of the Chinese Diaspora through its most recognizable and enduring icon – the family-run Chinese restaurant. In this 15-part series, Canadian filmmaker Cheuk Kwan takes us on a tour of restaurants around the world, bringing us into the lives of extraordinary families as they share moving stories of struggle, courage, displacement and belonging, and what it means to be “Chinese” today.

Visit remarkable families in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, India, Israel, Madagascar, Mauritius, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turkey. Meet the many faces of the Chinese Diaspora as they celebrate their unique identities, forged by political and economic forces, their ancestors’ legacies and the vibrant cultures of their chosen homes.

Watch Trinidadians jump up at the Carnival and Argentineans tango in milongas. Discover a restaurant in Israel that doubles as a church every Friday, taste the bitter legacy of apartheid in South Africa, and meet the truly international family of the man who “walked from China” to Turkey. Follow our filmmaker to the pristine Arctic Circle and the sweltering heat of the Amazon, as he tracks down family-run Chinese restaurants in unlikely places and uncovers unassuming heroes who have built new lives and families far from their ancestors’ homes.

Together these family histories illustrate the wider story of Chinese migration, settlement and integration, and celebrate the resilience and complexity of the Chinese Diaspora. Set against events that have sparked some of the past century’s most dramatic global migrations, Chinese Restaurants recounts histories that have remained in the margins of official records, showing us communities whose culture and identity are held together by a kinship that is stronger, yet more intangible, than mere nationalism, religion, language, geography or politics.