Photo credit: Tony Wei-Han Chen
When Vince Ha and Mezart Daulet of Rice Roll Production contacted me about producing a short film based on my article “Our Agenda: My Substance Abuse”, I was touched by their sincerity to want to help tell my story to reach a broader audience and to highlight some of the psycho-social factors that may lead some to utilize substances.
As all three of us belong to the Asian community, we wanted to create a piece of work that would address the invisibility and the lack of discussion of sex, drugs, and LGBTQ issues within our own ethno-racial community and hopefully trigger a larger community response to critically engage in supportive conversations on how best to provide support to some of our very own community members who are struggling with some of these “hidden” issues.
Though “Empty Nest” was scripted and the team decided to depict a rather real portrayal of substance use, the purpose of the film is not to glamourize the use of crystal meth or to trigger the viewer in any way. Instead, its purpose is to allow the viewer to understand some of the deeper and more nuanced issues related to substance use, recovery, health, mental health, how one relates to his/her family, culture, social environment, and the pressure to be loved and to fit in.
“Empty Nest” has been created to counter the dominant discourse about how those who are suffering from addiction issues or contracted HIV or HCV as those who “deserve” it, and to instill hope that with understanding and support for one another, it is possible that those who are impacted by substance use – the person who is actively struggling with the substance, the family, the community – can break free from the sense of emptiness that is so often caused by substance misuse.
As an HIV+ Asian gay man, I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to share my experience with you.
Christian Hui is a former crystal meth user and has lived with HIV since 2003 and undergone a successful treatment of HCV in 2011. He is currently a steering committee member of the Toronto HIV/AIDS Network, and a board member of the Canadian Treatment Action Council and the Global Network of People Living with HIV North America. He is currently a social work student at Ryerson University, and works as the Community Engagement Worker and Research Coordinator at Asian Community AIDS Services. He currently volunteers as a peer facilitator for the first stage group at Rainbow Services at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health and is involved with the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment, a network of service providers and individuals working to enhance service coordination for immigrants, refugees, and non-status persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Greater Toronto Area.
You can follow Christian on Twitter: @chui108.
About the movie: I would like to acknowledge and thank RiceRoll Productions; they are very new, have very little funding and have been able to produce amazing community work so I think we can support them somehow by spreading the word. You can follow them here:
Empty Nest: A story based on Christian Hui's article "Our Agenda: My Substance Use".
CAST: Christian Hui, Aries Cheung, Maggie Ho, Kayenne Sin Liu, Andy Wang, Richard Utama, Rene Lopez Torres, Constantine Cabarios, Ryan Tran, Levi Duong, Aamer Xen, and Leonardo Zúñiga
MUSIC BY: Joachim Heinrich
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Rice Roll Production
WRITTEN BY: Vince Ha & Mezart Daulet
DIRECTED BY: Vince Ha
PRODUCED BY: Mezart Daulet
CAMERA BY: Ryan Logan
SPECIAL THANKS TO: Christian Hui, Ryan Logan, Maggie Ho, Rick Sin, and Asian Community AIDS Services