Dirty Laundry

Richard Fung

1996, 30:30 minutes, colour, English


Roger Kwong is on a trip across the Canadian Rockies. He is travelling on railway tracks originally laid in the nineteenth-century by immigrant Chinese workers including his great-grandfather. Roger's readings into the documents of this history contain surprising accusations. These, combined with the discovery of an inexplicable photograph, and fateful encounters with a spirited, tree-planting dyke and a hunky Chinese attendant, raise unsettling questions about Roger's great-grandfather and Roger's own connection to the past.

In the nineteenth-century, Chinese communities in Canada consisted mainly of "bachelor" workers, often married men separated from their wives and children in China. Anti-Chinese rhetoric of the time reviled these men as sodomites. The few Chinese women there were were assumed to be prostitutes. Later accounts of the period, however, cleansed sexuality from this history altogether. Infiltrating its framing narrative with archival material, interviews and stylized recreations, Dirty Laundry excavates the historical representation of outlaw sexuality in nineteenth-century Chinese Canada.

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