Hot Docs 2014: Everything Will Be (Julia Kwan)

2014_hotdocs_stock_imageThis evening at 7pm, at the Lightbox, there is the world premiere of Julia Kwan’s gorgeous documentary, Everything Will Be.

Set in Vancouver’s Chinatown, the film shows both the beauty and the grit of a dying locale, as condos and new businesses begin to take up residence in what was once a thriving and colorful community.

As with the best documentaries, Kwan’s film is objective, simply letting the pictures and the dialogue tell their stories, and bring the world to life before our eyes.

I, for one, have always enjoyed the wonder and beauty of big cities Chinatowns, the colors, the imagery, the handwritten signs, the intriguing little family shops, the grocers, the apothecaries, and it saddened me to see that this little piece of Chinese culture is ebbing away under the oncoming tide of yet more condos. Sigh.

By stories and memories, we are taken through the shelves, through the art, through the products, drinks, and herbal medicines, that compose this slowly dimming community. The young have gone off, naturalized citizens for whom English is their primary language, and Cantonese is simply the language of their grandparents and parents, known, but unspoken. They have left behind those who raised them, a community that came together when they first arrived on Canadian shores, and claimed a piece of the sprawling city as their own.

Now, decades later, as multiculturalism grows, these cultural outposts are being absorbed, and some are being lost forever.

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Bob Rennie, of the Rennie Group, is a real estate developer, and while he is still hoping to expand businesses and homes into Chinatown, he does seem to have a reverence for the history, and the culture that made it a landmark. He prowls the stores and areas, trying to save pieces of history, amalgamating them in a building he’s converted into a museum.

But what of the people who have made this place their home, who have made a living, and an existence in this little slice of their home country?

Businesses are swept aside, the personal touch is lost as yet another needless glass and steel building reaches with its talons to scrape the sky…

Kwan has made a lovely, and bittersweet film, that I was completely wrapped up, the imagery is beautiful, and the stories, and locations give this documentary its heart. The lined and aged faces of those who have run their shops and stands for decades and now begin to wonder what’s next?

All while, glowing day and night, on Rennie’s building is a neon sign reading Everything Will Be Alright…

…but for whom?

Everything Will Be screens at the Lightbox again on the 30th at 1:00 and one final time at the Hart House Theatre on 2 May at 1:00.

Check it out!

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