Written by Cheung Tit Leung, translated by Lo Yan Chi
'Home is the root of localness', this home is where you have 'a sense of belonging' and 'a sense of autonomy'. The imagination of 'localness' is not built up without affection. On the other hand, it starts from the concrete and lively affection of each individual. It also connects to our affection for the place and our rights in the place. On one hand, these affection and rights are personal, but at the same time, the environment could affect them. This imagination could even be guided and restricted. Hopefully, through the conversations between these eight films, 'Imagining (without) Home' could capture the tension between individual affection and the limit of the environment.
Enclave depicts how the impact of urbanisation enlightened the villagers living in a rural mountain area in Sichuan. It also reflects how the national assimilation policy guided their sense of belonging towards the national education. The Road vividly reveals this process of urbanisation, where highways were constructed through mountains and homes. Government officers convince residents and laborers to join them. Lands are just the raw material supporting the high-speed development. On the contrary, Fight for Justice tells a story in which ordinary people are unjustly accused and right defender lawyer insists on defending the rights and interests of the grassroots in the hope of fighting for more social justice for their home, 'Taiwan'. Even they resist the spreading foreign culture again and again, the culture will eventually penetrate into the lives of local people. The background of the Yamato (California) is a Japanese small town Yamato where there is a US military base. The rumbling sound of military aircraft engines is as normal as a bell tower ringing from time to time. The young lady in the film loathes the invasion of western culture, but she is also curious about its mystery. This is a home with love and hate intertwined. Okinawa/Yamato also depicts Yamato too. The external force exerting on the place where the film describes not only comes from the US military presence, but it could also be traced back to the history of the cession of Okinawa. When the history is understood, the director’s Okinawan identity is no more passive. Other than being posited, identity building is attributed to self-exploration. Understanding the history brings up the imagination of home. My Beautiful Country tells about the civil war in Kosovo while We Are Young. We Are Strong tells about the 3-day anti-immigrant protest after the reunification of East and West Germany. Both stories originate from xenophobism. In all these stories, 'home' could still survive, but in another film Homeland (Iraq Year Zero), it witnesses the demise of 'home'. The Iraqi director documented how his homeland was torn down gradually by war and finally came to death. From the perspective of a member of his family, he keenly narrates the daily life in during wartime. The environment affects the imagination of home, but in such a turbulent and repressive life without home, what is left to imagine? Perhaps more important, though, is that we could still imagine.
Schofield, J., and Szymanski, R. (ed) (2011) Local heritage, global context: Cultural perspectives on sense of place. Surrey ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate.