Let us start with the dry and somewhat understated Press Release:

ABOUT THE FILM: Immigrant families and first-generation kids battle over cultural traditions while undergoing assimilation to an adopted homeland. HAPPY CLEANERS dissects this fraught experience through the lens of a contemporary Korean American family and their struggles to save their dry cleaning business in the diverse neighborhood of Flushing, Queens NY. (Synopsis by LAAPFF programmer Jeremy Gaudette)

I must admit that I had to hit the pause button a few times. This is an intense film about a subject that in this ‘Trumpian’ world most people are completely unaware of. The problems of moving to a different culture and set of values.

Happy Cleaners looks at a South Korean family that has moved to the US, they want no more than anyone else, In return for hard work, they want safety and security.

For 17 years they have been involved in the Dry Cleaning industry and for the last 10 years they have owned it.

Mom and Dad work hard and know they are outsiders, the two kids work hard, but do not understand the idea of being an outsider, and more power to them.

I need to tell some tales in order to explain why this movie matters. In the very late 90’s I was In Phoenix, AZ. There was a small refugee population, less than 50 families, that for no good reason I could ever think of, Phoenix was the spot to be. Harris (Arri) was their ‘de facto’ leader because he actually spoke a little English.

How I met Arri is not relevant, before long I was the ‘go to guy’ for the BOS community. They were nice people, they asked for little other than a chance.

In Canada I ran two programs for immigrants with limited English skills, one for the youth and one for the adults.

This mirrors Happy Cleaners exactly. The moms and Dads would bow and scrape while the kids would explain how they were going to change the world.

If you have the opportunity to watch this film, please do.

Be Sociable, Share!