Chinese Laundry is dancer Tala's way of expressing her lived experience as a child, whose family is second generation immigrants from Hong Kong, leading lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire with a Takeaway shop as their main family income. This film is set in a dry cleaners - a business set up by Tala's father when he was at her young age, and the not too far moors of the Peak District.
With Tala as Creative Producer and Director Patricia Zhou, also a dancer herself, the two created Chinese Laundry as a dynamic dichotomy between the two scenes using a formulaic dance as its medium, showing how even a structured movement can bring alive a very different emotion when its context is changed. Within the dry cleaners Tala is the conduit of her Chinese family's struggles, aspirations and dreams as a young family, moving here in the 80s, but out in the open of the Peak District Tala's dance feels reflective as if overcoming those days made her who she is today. This film's overriding theme however is pride and celebration - to live as a British-Chinese citizen with a multifaceted South Yorkshire life.
Creative Producer, Tala Lee Turton "I approached Pat, as a fellow East Asian female creative, to develop a story from my intersectional working class background for a short film. We are both interested in the multiplicity of East Asian stories and the diverse array of Chinese immigrant experiences. We are both dancers and so movement features as a filmic language in the short, much in the same way as, but adjacent to, the voice over.
We wanted to juxtapose my Barnsley accent with lots of kinetic and haptic energy to evoke a sensory and multifaceted understanding of the protagonist; essentially, to construct an identity from her whole history in a feminist approach that portrays a female consciousness as having a past, present and future."
Director Patricia Zhou, 'I started putting together the treatment and ideating on how we could tell Tala’s story while I was on winter holiday in Mexico last year. We initially started the rehearsal process over Zoom. At that point I was in LA, and Tala was in London — It’s funny how COVID made this process more of a normality.
As the film needed to weave together the landscapes of Yorkshire and the Chinese Laundry location, I knew that I needed to start with an interview with Tala’s father (who started the Chinese Laundry business as a young man) to better understand their family history.
Luckily, his interview was so intriguing and so honest, it gave me a great jumping off point and really steered the direction of the film and the choreography.
It was such a fun challenge working on this film. We only had about 2 months or so for everything to be finished, from conception to final color grade, so I am glad we had such an amazing and capable team that worked on it with us.'
Director Patricia Zhou @patricia_zhou
Creative Producer Tala Lee-Turton @talaleeturton
Dancer Tala Lee-Turton
Writers Tala Lee-Turton and Patricia Zhou
DOP Arthur Loveday @arthur_loveday
Colourist Sofie Borup
Stylist Chelsey Clarke
Creative Consultants Jas Rewkiewicz and Rebecca Zhou @rebecca.zhou
Production Adviser Sara Turton @imagesbysaint
Location Scout Helen Brown
Editor Patricia Zhou
Choreographer Patricia Zhou