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Forever, Chinatown

DOCUMENTARY SHORT| 32 MINUTES | 2016

Forever, Chinatown is a story of unknown, self-taught 81-year-old artist Frank Wong who has spent the past four decades recreating his fading memories by building romantic, extraordinarily detailed miniature models of the San Francisco Chinatown rooms of his youth.

This film takes the journey of one individual and maps it to a rapidly changing urban neighborhood from 1940s to present day. A meditation on memory, community, and preserving one’s own legacy, Frank‘s three-dimensional miniature dioramas become rare portals into a historic neighborhood and a window to the artist’s filtered, romanticized memories and emotional struggles. In his bargain with immortality, Frank announces plans to cremate his exquisite works with him upon his death in order to ‘live inside them forever’ in his afterlife.

Wong’s craft is... fascinating...meticulous... bringing 1940s Chinatown back to life in miniature
— Linda Poon (The Atlantic, CityLab)
Masterfully directed...beautifully shot
— Cindy Maram (Dig In Magazine)
 
 

Trailer & Clips

...lovely, rich...full of such detail and unspoken gaps...a complex portrait of a man and his memory
— Sandip Roy (Journalist, KALW, NPR, Huffington Post, New American Media; Author, “Don’t Let Him Know”)
exquisite...heart-warming
— (Brenda Wong Aoki, Award-winning Playwright, Performer, Storyteller, founding faculty member; Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University)


The Miniature Rooms

Our memories sometimes are prettier than what they really are...
All my miniatures are composites.
It’s half wishing and half memory.
— Frank Wong

Made from various mix-media (wood, plastic, cloth, paper) artist Frank Wong's dioramas are 1:1 (1 inch to 1 foot) in scale and some are electrically wired. Over two-decades to complete, the seven miniature dioramas are:

Herb Store, Shoe Shine Stand, The Dining Room, The Living Room, Single Room Occupancy, The Laundry, and Grandmother's Kitchen.

All dioramas are on permanent display at the Chinese Historical Society of America in San Francisco, Chinatown.

 

 

Meet the filmmakers

 

 

Produced and Directed by James Q. Chan                    Producer  Corey Tong
Director of Photography  Jeff den Broeder
Editor + Miniatures Photography  Michael Palmieri
Assistant Editor  Donal Mosher
Original Music  Thomas Lauderdale, Pink Martini
Sound Designer Jeremiah Moore
Associate Producer Penelope Wong
Researcher  Dorothy Quock
Graphic Design  James DiRito

 

 

A co-production of GOOD MEDICINE PICTURE COMPANY and INDEPENDENT TELEVISION SERVICE (ITVS)

presented in association with the CENTER FOR ASIAN AMERICAN MEDIA (CAAM),

with funding provided by CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING (CPB)

 

 

National Public Television Broadcast May - June 2017

Additional Support:

Purchase

DVD (All Region)
Closed Caption
32 min Festival Version
Limited Edition

 
...one of the most beautiful and touching documentaries that I have ever seen
— Dana Summers (Shuffle Online)
A beautifully-crafted short film preserving the legacy of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Breathtaking cinematography and nostalgic music intertwined with the intricate storytelling of artist Frank Wong transports you through an experience you will never forget. A must watch on Kanopy!
— Anna Oh (Staff, Kanopy Streaming)
 

FOR EDUCATORS &

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In more than 10 years of teaching documentary classes in continuing education programs, I can’t recall filmmakers or a film generating so much energy and enthusiasm among my students.
— Michael Fox (Critic; Journalist; Instructor, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute)
“...this has helped me critically re-examine the beauty of a community I call my home. Although I may be miles apart from San Francisco...I deeply connect with the documentary.”
— Julie M. (Viewer, Toronto, Canada)
Excellent documentary movie illustrating the simple and complex dynamics growing up in an ethnic minority community, working in mainstream settings, coping and managing oppression and discrimination through creative expressive art.
— Paul Hoang (Founder/CEO, Moving Forward Psychological Institute)