My narrative and documentary films tell stories of female friendships, illustrating the relationship between self and place, memory and home, and between the present and historical matter. I consider what national and ethnic labels might mean in a globalized world. My characters/subjects are frequently at odds when time, distance, or a deficiency of cultural commonality create imagined borders. I also play with the structures of typical narrative cinema, focusing on mundanity and searching for sensorial romance within the frame and also in the film or video’s format.
While at Headlands
The film I will be working on during my time at Headlands is a slight diversion from my usual practice: I am working primarily with archival materials and I am focusing on a male protagonist. I will be writing and editing a hybrid docu-fiction telling the tale of my grandfather using films found in his closet at the time of his death. He was a Chinese Trinidadian whose life had been defined by an early marriage, resistance to cultural customs, and the changing times in Trinidad and Tobago from the 1920s to 2020s. The collection of source films ranges from DVDs and VHSs of Hollywood films, personal home videos, and old Chinese cinema. These will be compiled, edited, and extensively manipulated. This film will elevate my grandfather to an imagined celebrity status while exploring Chinese history and cinema exhibition history in Trinidad and Tobago.
Elenie Chung, Est. Time of Arrival, 2021; video and super 8mm transfer; 11 min.