Hidden Histories #11 – A Brief Record of my Father’s Time at Sea
A seminar series curated by the Library Decolonisation Operational Group, led by Farzana Qureshi, Dr. Ludi Price, Amma Poku and Angelica Baschiera.
Wednesday 21st June, 6:00pm – 8:00pm (BST)
In Person event only – Register
Venue: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre (BGLT), Lower Ground Floor of Brunei Gallery Building, SOAS.
Title: A Brief Record of my Father’s Time at Sea 我父亲的海上生活日记
A screening of “A Brief Record of My Father’s Time at Sea”, the latest documentary from Toronto-based Hakka filmmaker, Jeanette Kong.
Discussion and Q&A session with Dr. Richard Hylton.
Award-winning Canadian filmmaker pays homage to her Jamaican-Chinese roots
The SOAS Library Decolonisation Group is proud to present a screening of “A Brief Record of My Father’s Time at Sea”, the latest feature-length documentary from Toronto-based Hakka filmmaker, Jeanette Kong.
Several years in the making, this deeply personal account of the filmmaker’s mixed heritage is in many ways the quintessential immigrant story.
In 1949, Kong’s father, Keith Kong, left his rural Chinese village to sail halfway around the globe and settle in Kingston Jamaica. Twenty-five years later, he and his family immigrated—yet again—to Toronto, Canada. Part personal memoir and part archival history, this film seamlessly blends past and present to paint a loving portrait of courage, resilience and sacrifice.
Central to the film’s artistry are its journal sections: first-person accounts written by Kong’s father during his immigration journey. Narrated in the Hakka language, these chapters reveal a richly crafted collage of vintage footage, photos and graphics set to original music. “I discovered a whole new side of my dad through his journal,” says Kong. “What a joy to discover that the father I knew was so eloquent and full of hope as a young man.” Inspired by her father’s words, the filmmaker travels to several far-flung places to reconnect with extended family and the legacy of her father’s choices is revealed.
As a Jamaican-born, Chinese-Canadian documentarian, Kong has produced and directed several acclaimed films about the Chinese in Jamaica. Her 2014 commissioned feature Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China aired on the Africa Channel and was shortlisted for Best Diaspora Documentary at the 2014 Africa Movie Academy Awards. It was also the opening night gala at the 2015 Reelworld Film Festival where it won the ReelChoice Audience Award. Her short films —The Chiney Shop and Half: The Story of a Chinese Jamaican Son—screened at several film festivals and were chosen by the Institute of Jamaica to commemorate the 160th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Chinese to Jamaica.
“I make documentaries about the Hakka in Jamaica because there’s such a rich history to record and until
recently few people were doing it,” says Kong. “It’s my personal mission to convey this history so that
subsequent generations will understand how they came to exist and have a testament of their past.”
At its heart, A Brief Record of My Father’s Time at Sea is about family ties and a daughter’s love. Kong’s most personal film to date is movingly narrated by the filmmaker.
Kong gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council and Canada
Media Fund in the realization of this film.
Producer and director Jeanette Kong specializes in short-form videos and documentaries. Her films—The Chiney Shop and Half: The Story of a Chinese Jamaican Son—have screened at several international film festivals and museums. Kong directed and produced Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China, which has screened on PBS, The Africa Channel and Flow TV in the Caribbean.
Richard Hylton was born in London, England. He joined SOAS in 2021, following two years as Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Pittsburgh. Hylton studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Exeter College of Art and Design between 1987-1990 and MA History of Art at Goldsmiths 1998–2000.
Hylton’s research on Diasporic art and art history includes a monographic study on British art history, race and the body politic, African American art in the international arena, and an exploration of the relationship between contemporary art, ethnography and the western museum.
To register for in person attendance, please complete this online form
Supported by: @canadaintheuk