Automatic Writing

Canadian filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming, a child of Chinese and Australian parents, directed this intriguing and original 1996 film about her Chinese great-great-grandfather. An orphan in 19th-century Hong Kong, he was kidnapped, put to work in a brothel, and taken to San Francisco; there he converted to Christianity, worked as a servant to a Jewish family, and returned to Hong Kong, where he worked for a doctor and eventually became a surgeon. Fleming's approach to this colorful material is extremely playful and ironic, mixing fiction and documentary as she uses both actors (including Kwok Wing Leung, George Chiang) and herself to recount the story in a highly stylized manner.

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