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Still from The Home Promised
Photo by Jessie Lau.

Seeing Through a New Lens

Betty Xie’s film documents what happens in a community faced with the threat of eviction

“Filmmaking is a transformative experience,” says Betty Xie (BA 2014 Woodsworth), a writer-director who majored in both cinema and Asia-Pacific studies. The Home Promised, Xie’s recently released second documentary, was a collaboration with her crew of four current or former U of T students, and also with the residents of Shaoxing, a small “city” within the city of Taipei. Xie describes it as a collective effort that challenged everyone’s ideas about what constitutes a community.

Still from The Home Promised. Photo: Jessie Lau
Still from The Home Promised. Photo: Jessie Lau

Like other improvised urban districts originally built by people fleeing persecution or poverty, Shaoxing faces demolition to make way for new development, as well as the forced resettlement of its citizens. Xie learned of their plight in 2012. Although she expected to ask “abstract questions about home and belonging,” Xie shed that plan after sitting in on a residents’ meeting. Rather than focus on the search for an ideal home, the filmmakers documented the daily routine of living with the threat of eviction, and how a united community emerged from uncertainty.

One of the films chosen for the fall’s Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, The Home Promised won the Air Canada Short Film Award and will be screened on flights in 2015.

Watch the trailer for The Home Promised.

Video courtesy: Betty Xie

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