(San Francisco, CA) — While growing up in suburban New Jersey, Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong knew little about her father’s past. Then, one day she discovered his secret diary, written when he was a teenager and POW in a Japanese work camp during World War II. In it, he vowed to make “every day a holiday” if he ever survived. Told through Loong’s eyes, Every Day Is a Holiday tells the life-affirming story of her father’s unlikely journey, from Chinese Malay teenager and Japanese POW, to merchant seaman, American soldier, Veterans Affairs doctor, and proud citizen of the country that liberated him: the United States. Using intimate conversations, rare archival footage and his wartime diary, the film traces how, through sheer strength of will and a remarkably positive outlook, Paul Loong overcame the horrors of war and obstacles as an immigrant, truly making “every day a holiday.” This inspiring and moving portrait of an unforgettable American premieres on public television this May in conjunction with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Memorial Day (check your local listings).
Growing up, filmmaker Theresa Loong recalls a cheerful father who loved to laugh and play pranks on his children, but underneath all that laughter, he would show occasional flashes of anger and sadness. When one day young Theresa asked him innocently about a curious scar on his back, he simply said, "Everyone has secrets." It wasn't until Theresa discovered a hidden diary her father kept while imprisoned, that she uncovered what those secrets were.
With a steel-trap memory and joyful spirit, at 88 years old, Paul is commemorating his 66th year of freedom. Every Day Is a Holiday celebrates the freedom that comes with confronting the past and facing the future with resilience, forgiveness, and love.
About the Filmmaker
As founder of the interactive production company, FORM360, Theresa Loong (director) has provided editorial and strategic consulting services to AMC Networks, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Intellitoys, Architecture for Humanity, Milestone Films and Time Warner. Loong is an award-winning multimedia director and producer whose work has been exhibited at the SVA, Teriennale di Milano and Círculo de Bellas Artes. Loong served as an associate producer on the film So Very Far from Home (PBS and SMG Documentary Channel, Shanghai). She was also a researcher for the one-hour PBS documentary China Now: To Get Rich Is Glorious. Loong has taught multimedia at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She is a graduate of Harvard University, where she studied social anthropology and conducted ethnographic research using film and video. She is currently working on a new project called Feed Me a Story. For further information, including information about purchasing a DVD, visit http://www.everydayisaholiday.org.
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy® Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Thursday nights at 10pm on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens, and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue, and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing television audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. For more information about ITVS, visit itvs.org. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
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