|Cast: ||Alvin Tsang|
|Crew: ||Screenwriters: Alvin Tsang - Cinematographer: Alvin Tsang - Editor: Alvin Tsang - Composer: Joanna Karselis
As he examines the legacy of his family’s immigration to Los Angeles from Hong Kong—fraught with vulnerabilities and betrayal and splintered with economic and emotional hardships -- filmmaker Alvin Tsang experiences a renewed sense of hope offered up by his return to Hong Kong (left behind at age 9) and the delicate images of a family once intact.
Alvin Tsang was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Los Angeles at age 9. Tsang earned a degree in Visual Arts (media) at The University of California, San Diego, where he began his film career as an editing assistant for THAT’S MY FACE (2001), a film by Thomas Allen Harris (director of THROUGH A LENS DARKLY) exploring the mythical African “face” found in Brazil and the United States. After moving back to Los Angeles, Tsang served as a telecine/colorist assistant at several Hollywood post-production houses. Tsang edited Josiah Lee’s HANDLING THE A.M. (2006), a short film about the absurdity and falsity of Asian American stereotypes. When he moved to Brooklyn, New York, Tsang edited Robert E. Holley’s HIV/AIDS awareness film, LOVE ME THROUGH IT (2008) and served as assistant editor and co-producer for Ermena Vinulan’s award-winning documentary, TEA AND JUSTICE (2007), about the very first female Asian-American NYPD officers on the force. Also co-produced with Vinluan, Tsang shot and edited a short documentary on legendary independent director John Sayles’s process in making his film AMIGO (2010) about the Philippine-American War. He serves as a video documentarian for the pioneering composer-singer-choreographer-filmmaker Meredith Monk (The House Foundation) and multimedia artist Shalom Neuman (FusionArts Museum) and has created short promos of several of fashion designer Michael Kors’s collections. Tsang currently writes and directs his own creative documentary films. REUNIFICATION (2015) is his first feature film.
REUNIFICATION took on and off about 17 years to make (but more like 4 intense years). It is a film that requires a long simmering period of time. Since I wasn’t a writer but more of a visual person, I naturally allowed the visual to precede text. I decided to film many scenes that I have strong feelings about regardless of knowing how they will be put together as a whole later on. If the reason for filming a scene was that I felt depressed while living with my father, or that I was just trying to experiment with camera lighting and digital effects, or that I merely wanted to capture some home footage of my newborn niece at the hospital, so be it. Instead of following the traditional workflow of a film production – first write a screenplay and script, then make a storyboard, and then shoot and edit, my workflow was the opposite. Working backwards by first shooting and simultaneously editing the scenes, while writing a script and creating narrations, then finally organically realizing the story, was very painstakingly frustrating. For most of the time, I feel as if I was searching alone in the dark for something tangible. I felt that no one can help me. It was a big clunky puzzle where some parts fit, while others didn’t. Every step was trial and error. There were about ten rough cuts made with various titles. The first few versions went into twenty different directions without any focus. But eventually with each version, the film became more and more focused. Because I was never involved in any professional film production, and the fact that this is an exploratory film – both in realizing my experience and learning more about filmmaking, I had to make it this way. By working in this manner, I actually learned to write as a result.