WONG SINSAANG is a lyrical portrait of the filmmaker’s father, a proprietor of a dry-cleaning business in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood.

“…jump-starts a discussion about the joys and hardships of living in America.” 

Joshua Glick, Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977
Synopsis: 

WONG SINSAANG is a lyrical portrait of the filmmaker’s father, a proprietor of a dry cleaning business in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. The filmmaker’s attempt to understand his father’s life and those who immigrated to America in search of a better life are contrasted with a study of the grinding lifestyle of the dry cleaner’s everyday life. The film juxtaposes stark glimpses of the laundromat as obnoxious white customers subject Mr. Wong to daily humiliation and dehumanization, against serene scenes of Mr. Wong practicing tai-chi outdoors. The director’s own confusion over his own father’s seeming subservience gives way to a realization that his father has much larger dreams for himself and his family.

WONG SINSAANG was written and directed by Eddie Wong while a film student at UCLA’s Ethnocommunications Program, and is one of the first productions to be distributed under the  “Visual Communications” banner. Wong, one of the four co-founders of Visual Communications, would later produce such classics as CHINATOWN 2-STEP and PIECES OF A DREAM.

Reviews

Director's Commentary: 

WONG SINSAANG was my first production. I picked the topic that I felt I needed to do, and that was to try to reconcile my own feelings about my father, who was a Chinese laundryman. At the time, I had just finished reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I began to understand a little bit more about what’s discussed as ‘colonial relations,’ where people who are colonized relate to their parents in a very stilted manner. They see them through the eyes of their oppressors. And in this case, [it was] my father, who I saw as someone who was subservient most of his life, having to deal with White customers who would often be verbally abusive. And so I literally saw [my] film as someone re-examining his relationship with his own father, and trying to explain that this person — beyond the stereotype — had a whole other life that most people would never see.

— Excerpted from an interview conducted by Arthur Dong, August, 1990