Metro Morning

Toronto director draws on own immigrant experience in short film 'The Suitcase'

Philip Leung’s short film, The Suitcase, draws on his own immigrant experience, arriving in Toronto as a young child from Hong Kong. “In 1988 my parents decided to immigrate here. At first, they thought it was easy - but it turned out to be more difficult,” he says.

Philip Leung imagined story of a girl hiding in a suitcase to get to Canada

A still from The Suitcase, a short film about a young girl hiding in a suitcase to get to Canada. (Submitted by Philip Leung)

Filmmaker Philip Leung says the idea for his short film came from a photograph.

"Last year, I saw a picture of a child in an X-ray of a suitcase. I was shocked," he recently told Metro Morning.

"I thought, 'if I make a story about a child in a suitcase, that will get people's attention.'"

In his short film The Suitcase, he imagined the story of a five-year-old girl stowing away in an airplane to get to Canada.

Philip Leung wrote and directed The Suitcase. (Submitted by Philip Leung)

Leung drew on his own immigrant experience for inspiration. He arrived in Toronto from Hong Kong as a young child.

"In 1988 my parents decided to immigrate here. At first, they thought it was easy - but it turned out to be more difficult," he said.

Leung remembers his parents doing their best to get him excited about his new home.

"When I came, they peppered me with wonderful stories about how great Toronto is, but they were really struggling here."

In the film, the protagonist's mother uses a similar technique, telling her daughter all about the amazing animals she will encounter in Canada.

In this scene, the young girl in the suitcase imagines the animals she'll see when she arrives in Canada. (Submitted by Philip Leung)

"Imagination is what keeps us going," explained Leung, who wrote and directed his film. 

The Suitcase premieres this weekend at the Art Gallery of Ontario. More information is available here.

A teaser for the film is available online: 

With files from Metro Morning

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