(a feature documentary in progress, 2018-2021). Directed by Lukas Brasiskis and Yujia Bian
The second half of the 19th century saw over 150,000 Chinese join the working ranks in Cuba and eventually start their businesses. Consequently, the Havana’s Chinatown snowballed with its own architectural infrastructure: restaurants, pharmacies, laundries, schools, and a temple. In the years following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, private businesses were seized, Chinese fled the island, and Barrio Chino—the largest Chinatown in Latin America—was abandoned. The Chinese community in Havana has never fully recovered. And yet, in the early 2019 the Cuban authorities announced about the economically-motivated architectural reconstruction of the Chinatown. Barrio Chino: The Architecture and The Specter pushes the limits of film ethnography to produce the haunting portrait of the “Chinatown with no Chinese”.
Mirroring the inhabitation of the unfamiliar urban layout and focusing on the intersections between global circulation of capital and Cuban infrastructural politics, the film is an original object-oriented take on the architectural and social history of Barrio Chino.
More about the project on its own website