The Home Promised

In a post back in December, I briefly mentioned an upcoming project. The Home Promised 家諾 is a documentary by my friends Betty Xie and David Wang, which won the Reel Asian “So You Think You Can Pitch?” competition in the emerging filmmaker category. After they won, I basically enlisted myself on the project without giving them the choice not to take me along.


The film is about the Shaoxing Neighbourhood in Taipei, its main residents are soldiers who followed the Kuomintang (KMT) party to flee from mainland China in the early 1950s. In August 2010, the residents received an unexpected letter from the National Taiwan University (NTU), suing them for illegal occupation of land, demanding monetary compensation, and forcing them to relocate. This is a story that explores the universal wonder about identity, nationhood and sense of belonging. The experience of being physically and psychologically displaced is not unique to the residents in this neighbourhood and has become an increasingly serious social problem in Taiwan as well as other parts of the world.

For February, we launched an Indiegogo campaign and the support has been overwhelming—we hit our $5000 goal last week and we still have a few days to go. Watch our campaign video here:

I’m really excited about this project for many reasons. I’m most proud of the crew—we have no formal training in filmmaking but we are very passionate and eager to tell the story of the Shaoxing Neighbourhood. I am less than 10 weeks away from finishing my undergrad at the University of Toronto, and I have been asked countlessly why I was not in a photography program—something I wrote about in this post—I am incredibly blessed to have found likeminded creative people in the stereotypical academically rigorous institute known as the U of T, who are daring (or naive, depends how you see it) enough to come up with a logistically complicated project to undertake as emerging filmmakers, but I also honestly couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my undergrad career by making a documentary with my friends…IN TAIWAN.

These people have taught me to #DREAMBIG.

The film actually began a two years earlier when director/co-producer Betty travelled to Taipei on a research trip and met the residents of the neighbourhood through a chance encounter. The footage she collected from that trip became her first documentary, Untag Taiwan 2012, I acted a sounding board in the editing process of that film—I like to think that’s when our “collaboration” started. So I obviously had to tag myself along on the ride to Taiwan this time, and I will be the Director of Photography, which is completely new to me. I definitely freaked out a little, but going along with her spirit, I’m honoured to be trusted with this task—okay, to be fair, I did volunteer as tribute—and I can’t wait to head to Taipei in May!

Even though we have reached our goal of $5000, as an independent student production, all kinds of support go a long way for us. You can still support us on the Indiegogo campaign until next week, or help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter! Thank you!

By Jessie Lau

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