For the last 12 years, Paul Tom has been drawing on the intimate to tell life stories with sensitivity. His films give a voice to those who are not always heard, creating dialogue and opening our arms to others.  

Born in a refugee camp in Thailand, his favourite themes to explore are the construction of identity, family relationships, and everything that touches on the fragile side of being human. His films Seuls and Bagages have been selected for some forty film festivals around the world, winning a dozen awards. He is also the author of the young adult graphic novel Seuls, published by la courte échelle. 

Project statement: 

Memories in the spinning mill: experiences of racialized women workers in the restructuring of Montreal’s textile sector since the 1970s

The aim of the project is to create the first version of the script and storyboard for a graphic novel about the perspectives of people from communities of color who have been affected by waves of closures and restructuring in Montreal’s large-scale textile and garment industry since the 1970s. In particular, the project highlights the voices and experiences of a series of immigrant and racialized workers, to trace the daily impacts of this work, from workplace to home. I aim to reflect a diversity of women’s journeys (e.g. ethnicity, age, class), while contextualizing them across different scales of the textile industry, represented in turn by characters such as the contractor, the union, the company and the government. I also aim to represent the physical, emotional and relational drudgery of this sector, whose conditions have gradually transformed and deteriorated over the decades. The project is spearheaded by Paul Tom, a renowned Cambodian-born filmmaker and author, who recently won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award (2023) for his first illustrated novel Seuls/Alone. He will be supported by Rémy Chhem, social scientist and community organizer, and a number of CHORN collaborators (notably Steven High and Lauren Laframboise, with whom we have had preliminary discussions).