While growing up in suburban New Jersey, Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong knew little about her father’s past. Then, one day she discovered his secret diary, written when he was a teenager and POW in a Japanese work camp during World War II. In it, he vowed to make “every day a holiday” if he ever survived. Told through her eyes, EVERY DAY IS A HOLIDAY tells the painful but life-affirming story of her father’s unlikely journey, from Chinese Malay teenager and Japanese POW, to merchant seaman, Veterans Affairs doctor and naturalized citizen of the country that liberated him: the United States. Using intimate conversations, rare archival footage and his wartime diary, the film traces how, through sheer strength of will, Paul Loong overcomes the horrors of war and obstacles as an immigrant, making “every day a holiday”.
A secret diary. My father is celebrating his 65th year of freedom from a World War II prison-of-war camp.
Recently, I discovered a secret diary my father kept while he was a teenage prisoner-of-war in Japan. This film documents a story of triumph over adversity, showing major historical events through a deeply personal lens using interviews, rare archival footage, and my father’s wartime diary. Each chapter in this layered story begins with a quote from my father’s diary, visually rendered in his elegant penmanship. The film structure mirrors the old-fashioned television and radio “chapter plays.”
Like a real-life Zelig, my father was there: from purchasing opium in Malaysia, to sailing to Iran as a merchant seaman, to driving a tank over exploding kim chee vats in Korea. My father believed that since he survived the horrors that surrounded him as a POW, then every day held potential for joy, making every day a holiday.
Won’t you join us in this journey?