Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong creates an intimate portrait of her father, a man fifty years her senior. In this documentary, we explore the bonds of the father-daughter relationship and place themes of growing older, immigration and racism in the context of “living history.” Paul Loong talks of his experiences as a POW in Japan and his subsequent quest to become an American. We discover why, despite much suffering, “Every Day Is a Holiday.”
My dad says he’s lived two lives, but I think it’s more. He has sailed to Iran as a merchant seaman, driven a tank over exploding kimchee vats in Korea, and survived two prisoner-of-war camps in Japan during WWII. You wouldn’t know by looking at him – I only found out after I saw a curious scar on his back and I started asking questions. And then I asked more questions.
A few years ago, my dad showed me a secret diary he kept while he was a prisoner of war in Japan during WWII. I was shocked. Also excited, and touched. Why show me? Why now? Why were there some pages missing? It was like a window into his nineteen-year-old mind, into his soul. Are we really that similar? No. I try, I try very hard – to emulate his kindness, generosity and tenacity. Life to him is pretty black and white. Things just are. This resoluteness, this assuredness – I don’t have that at all. Life to me is all shades of grey, of maybes and possibilities.
I read the old, carefully penned pages, and start to daydream and ask questions. It starts to make sense, why every day as a free man is a holiday. What never ceases to amaze me is that as much as he wants to tell me stories from his past, he is still very much part of the present.
Join me on this unique look into a family – an American family with international ties. It is timely and important.
“Every Day is a Holiday” is a co-production of FORM360 and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), produced in association with KET, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). It is fiscally sponsored by Women Make Movies and received grants from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund.