"Where Dreams Rest": A film about a Chinese woman traveling through the U.S.-Mexico border
Hi, my name is Elaine Wong. I'm a writer, director based in Los Angeles and I'm originally from Hong Kong.
From mainstream media in the west, it is well-known that thousands from Central and Latin America attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexican border every day. But as a Chinese immigrant myself, I was shocked to learn of the complex stories behind Chinese migrants who endure this dangerous journey. By paying large sums of money to Snakeheads (smugglers), they make their way through China to enter the U.S. through the Mexican border.
Through a personal contact, I learned of a Chinese migrant who survived this very crossing by lying fully immersed in a water tank, with only a straw to breathe through. Luckily, she made it, but many in the same journey did not. That story, her journey, lingered with me.
I couldn’t help but wonder isn’t the Chinese economy booming? Aren’t there other methods to come to the U.S.? Why would someone risk his/her life just to come to the U.S.? What happens if they get caught? How can they continue to stay in America?
With more research, I found that the majority of those who take this daring route are from a particular region in China called Fuzhou. When traveling there in the summer of 2018, I was able to conduct more research and interview the people there. Filled with nearly vacant villages, Fuzhou is curiously fabricated with Westernized homes. Those that I encountered shared stories of family members who had left for America ten to twenty years ago, but were unable to come back. They sent money back to care for their families and build homes but, they themselves were unable to travel back to China due to their complicated/undocumented status in the U.S.
Under the current political climate, it will only be more difficult for those who want to go to the U.S. for a better life. While many immigrants are becoming more open about their status and struggles, the undocumented Chinese tend to be quieter and are often disregarded. It is my hope to raise awareness to the plight of Chinese migrants through this film.
Although Where Dreams Rest is a story about immigration, the story I want to tell is, in essence, also a coming-of-age story. I know first-hand what it is like to leave a hometown, to experience the cost of immigrating, and dealing with the continual struggles to make sense of one’s identity while assimilating to a new country.
Ultimately, this is story about dreaming. Sometimes, reality hits us because it's nothing like our dreams, but I've come to learn that there's beauty in a shattered dream. When our dreams don't turn out the way we want them to, we can get sad, but we can also admire how the dreams can transform into something that we have never imagined. Then, no matter what happens and what life throws at us, we can still find the strength, hope and beauty within ourselves.
This film has screened in the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Romania, Venezuela, Spain, Canada, and my hometown Hong Kong. I've got to make many new friends through traveling with this film and I'll also never forget the amazing process of making this film. I'm so honored and humbled that my film has found such international audience, I'm also very excited that you'll now be able to watch it here on Viddsee! Please watch the film on the link below and feel free to ask me any questions about it! Thank you! :)