Richmond filmmaker explores Chinese rap scene, housing crisis

An awarding-winning Richmond filmmaker’s latest work has been selected for a national film grant, worth $150,000.

As the only filmmaker selected from Richmond, Lawrence Le Lam, who grew up in the city, said he feels grateful to be able to give back to the community through his work. 

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“Part of the film was to capture a piece of Richmond. The story is mainly about a spoiled kid who realizes how much…he could contribute to the community. I hope the audiences (will) feel inspired to give back as well,” said Lam, adding that he is now polishing the scripts and film shoots for the fall. 

In the five-minute video, titled The Chinatown Diner, which Lam submitted to the Telefilm Talent to Watch Program, he features a kid called Richard Meng running away from his crazy rich father in China to the City of Richmond. 

With a keen determination to live on his own, Meng started working as a dishwasher at a restaurant, where he finds the place filled with rap music and dance at night. 

Then, he falls in love with the place and later decides to preserve it when the neighourhood is going to be demolished and rebuilt. 

“My film is mostly set in Richmond and Vancouver’s Chinatown to explore the uniquely local topic within the Chinese diaspora through the underground Chinese rap scene. The film touches upon the housing crisis, the conflict between new and old Chinese immigrants,” said Lam. 

Growing up in Richmond, Lam said every corner of the city carries his childhood memories and now he aims to capture those familiar scenes in his film. 

“I used to dance at the empty parking lot in front of the Lansdowne Centre. And there is a local bubble tea shop that also serves as a hub for underground Chinese Canadian rappers. I am hoping to set my scenes there,” said Lam. 

The film will also include some recent hot topics, such as billions of dollars laundered through British Columbia’s real estate market. 

Although it seems to be a sensitive and controversial topic, Lam insisted on including this element in his work. 

“Houses are places that allow us to live, make friends or find supporting network, but homes now become assets for investing,” said Lam, noting that he believes many people might find this part interesting. 

The $150,000 funding might sound a lot for many, but the money won’t last long once Lam starts shooting. However, he still considers it a great start. 

“I want to make Richmond proud,” said Lam. 

 

 

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