Organized through a partnership between the Departments of Theatre and Film and Asian Studies, and made possible by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and the Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enhancement Fund, with the support of the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program, the Centre for India and South Asia Research.
Rungh Magazine, Centre A, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Simon Fraser University's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, Simon Fraser Univerity Library, and Simon Fraser University's Institute for the Humanities, and DOXA Film Festival.
"(A) masterfully crafted film… The filmmaker skillfully pulls a surprisingly rich and textured story from a relatively small cache of found footage. It causes us to pause and consider the ephemeral means by which we record and capture our most important moments and reminds us of the power of good, oldfashioned celluloid film."
***** FIVE STARS - Special Jury Citation, Hot Docs Film Festival
"…a haunting, essential document that, for all its specificity, comments on the universal human condition."
Now Magazine, Toronto
What emerges from a pile of deteriorating 16mm home movies spanning from 1936 to 1951, is a moving story of a Chinese American family set against the backdrop of race and class in Chicago, and one collector's obsession with the 1933-4 World's Fair.
Rescued from an online auction, the filmmakers' quest to make meaning of this Chinese American family's early home movies connects him with Irena Lum – the surviving daughter of graphic artist and collector, Silas Henry Fung.
Intertwining a first person narrative as an outside witness with family accounts and other commentators, Kazimi weaves a rich tapestry of the life of an unusually wealthy family of colour from the Depression era. The retrieved footage offers an intimate and radically different visual perspective on the Chinese American community in Chicago – with a surprising feminist twist. Visually rich and textured, unafraid to show the decaying patina of a family archive, Random Acts of Legacy revels in the making of home movies and memory.
“Best Documentarian – "In a city crowded with great documentary filmmakers — Allan King , John Walker , Richard Fung , Laura Sky , Peter Lynch — Ali Kazimi stands out. Trained as a cinematographer, he pays close attention to the visual plan of all his films. But it's the larger project that's impressive. Whether it's the story of an Iroquois photographer, Canadian government racism or villagers resisting an Indian mega-dam, there's a common thread. Kazimi's films are both the ongoing diary of an immigrant and a wide-ranging critique of hidden power."
–Best of Toronto 2005, Now Magazine
Producer: Ali Kazimi
Associate Producer: Heidi McKenzie
Director: Ali Kazimi
Writer: Ali Kazimi
Cinematographer: Ali Kazimi
Editor: Gary Popovich, Ali Kazimi
Music Director & Sound Designer: Phil Strong
Music: Phil Strong, Thomas Hoy
Produced with the generous support of The Canada Council for the Arts and The Toronto Arts Council
Honourable Mention—Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award
For many visible minorities, home movies used to be a luxury, and their rare existence lends insight into personal lives otherwise omitted from moving image history. Increasingly, these original celluloid documents have replaced other media as a key to family histories. Director Ali Kazimi has been rescuing these orphaned home movies, left to decay over decades. A random lot he acquired reveals the middle class lives of a Chinese-American family from the Great Depression to post-war middle America. The films were the work of Silas Fung, a commercial artist who was fascinated with the Chicago World's Fair and was supported by his trailblazing wife who held a high position at an insurance company. Kazimi unspools a touching memoir through Fung's films by contacting surviving descendants. As they watch the films and witness youthful images once thought lost, a profoundly different perspective on a Midwest family of colour graciously takes form. Alexander Rogalski
Organized through a partnership between the Departments of Theatre and Film and Asian Studies, and made possible by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and the Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enhancement Fund, with the support of the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program, the Centre for India and South Asia Research, and Rungh Magazine.