Alfred Sung worked at Hong Kong NOW TV and TVB Network Vision as Senior Research Writer from 2008 to 2014. He has published six books, including two graphic novels, The Sung Family and The Sung Family 2, both depicting his family’s life. Sung’s first feature film, The Last Stitch, received Hong Kong CNEX Pitching Master Workshop “Best Pitch” in 2014. Clips from The Last Stitch were featured in Canada’s CTV 2017 documentary, Canada in a Day.

On the occasion of “The Last Stitch” screening at Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, we speak with him about his career, diaspora, Cheongsam, and other topics

Why did you decide to make the transition from writer to director?

I like challenges. I first started my creative life by publishing academic history books when I was 20 something in the early 2000s. Then I changed to write popular history books, then comics, and then multi-media works. So, filmmaking is a logical step in my creative life.  

Why did you decide to shoot a film about your family story in essence?

I want to tell the story of the Hongkonger-Canadians. We are a unique group in Canada. My family’s story is a very typical story of the first generation of migrants from Hong Kong. I want to tell how we want, and how we have been trying to assimilate to Canadian society. We are so grateful that this nation is willing to share the lands and opportunities with us. This film is actually my gift to Canada.    

Your grandparents and your parents had to change countries because of the political situation in China and then Hong Kong. What is your opinion about their choice? What do you think about the current situation in Hong Kong and China?

Both my grandparents and parents had made the right choices. Their decisions had created new platforms and options for their children. The availability of options makes us free. I left Canada when I finished my school here in 2000, and I went to Hong Kong and Asia to start my career. I returned to Canada in 2016 to start a new life here. It could not have happened without my parents’ decision to move to Canada 25 years ago. They had created an option for me to make my own decision. This is what people in Hong Kong have had and are now protecting for: free will, dignity, and fair games.

How long have you been collecting the footage that is presented on film? How much time did you spend editing them?

I started filming in 1993 when I was 15 in Hong Kong. I planned to go to film school back then, but that didn’t happen. I started my career in an airline in Asia. Eventually I worked in a TV station in Hong Kong. And I wanted to finish this long-delayed film.

Can you give some more details about Cheongsam? What is the situation with the practice nowadays?

I’m sure my parents would not want to retire in the near future after they have seen this film at Reel Asian. They could continue the craft for a decade more.

What are your future plans? Are you going to continue as a director or return to writing?

I want to be an executive producer to help young talents to make their documentary films. I am grateful that I had gone through this journey, from pitching all the way to film fest. It’s a very good experience. I can integrate this experience with my day job as a marketing manager to be a good executive producer for documentary films.  

My name is Panos Kotzathanasis and I am Greek. Being a fan of Asian cinema and especially of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since I was a little kid, I cultivated that love during my adolescence, to extend to the whole of SE Asia. Starting from my own blog in Greek, I then moved on to write for some of the major publications in Greece, and in a number of websites dealing with (Asian) cinema, such as Taste of Cinema, Hancinema, EasternKicks, Chinese Policy Institute, and of course, Asian Movie Pulse. in which I still continue to contribute. In the beginning of 2017, I launched my own website, Asian Film Vault, which I merged in 2018 with Asian Movie Pulse, creating the most complete website about the Asian movie industry, as it deals with almost every country from East and South Asia, and definitely all genres. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.