77 minutes, 2016, Canada

What emerges from a pile of deteriorating 16mm home movies spanning from 1936 to 1951, is a moving story of a Chinese American family set against the backdrop of race and class in Chicago, and one collector’s obsession with the 1933–4 World’s Fair.

Rescued from an online auction, the filmmaker’s quest to make meaning of this Chinese American family’s early home movies connects him with Irena Lum—the surviving daughter of graphic artist and collector, Silas Henry Fung.

Intertwining a first person narrative as an outside witness with family accounts and other commentators, Kazimi weaves a rich tapestry of the life of an unusually wealthy family of colour from the Depression era. The retrieved footage offers an intimate and radically different visual perspective on the Chinese American community in Chicago—with a surprising feminist twist. Visually rich and textured, unafraid to show the decaying patina of a family archive, Random Acts of Legacy revels in the making of home movies and memory.

This page is dedicated to the memory of Irena Lum (Jan 5, 1932 – Dec 7, 2020) without her trust and warmth this film would not have been possible.


Best Documentary Award, 35th CAAMFest, San Francisco, 2017
Honorable Mention for Best Canadian Feature Documentary, Hot Docs Intl. Documentary Film Festival, 2016
Special Mention for Best Documentary, Philadelphia Asian American Festival, 2016


“…gorgeous, multi-layered, … a haunting, essential document that, for all its specificity, comments on the universal human condition.”
— Glen Sumi, NOW Magazine, Toronto, April 26, 2016

“(A) masterfully crafted film… The filmmaker skillfully pulls a surprisingly rich and textured story from a relatively small cache of found footage. It causes us to pause and consider the ephemeral means by which we record and capture our most important moments and reminds us of the power of good, old fashioned celluloid film.”
— Jury Citation, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, 2016

“Through Ali Kazimi’s deft command of the film-making language, a decaying collection of home movies is turned to an evocative, essential document of an experience rarely seen or heard from—a middle class Chinese American family in a 1930’s America. Ali’s creative design and approach enabled Silas Fung’s footage that’s personal, unique and specific, illuminate and comment on the universal human condition. For it’s creative and evocative manner of giving nuance to our understanding of ourselves, others, and the world we live in, we give CAAMFest’s Best Documentary award to Ali Kazimi’s Random Acts of Legacy.”
— Jury Citation, CAAMFest 2017


Producer: Ali Kazimi
Associate Producer: Heidi McKenzie
Director: Ali Kazimi
Writer: Ali Kazimi
Cinematographer: Ali Kazimi
Editors: Gary Popovich, Ali Kazimi
Sound Designer: Phil Strong
Music: Phil Strong, Thomas Hoy


Email: info@vtape.org
Telephone: (416) 351-1317
401 Richmond Street West,
Suite 452
Toronto, Ontario
M5V 3A8 Canada


An in-depth, on stage interview, with Prof. Chris Lee, UBC, about the making of Random Acts of Legacy. Recorded during the Vancouver launch of the film by Rungh.

Finding Story Amidst Decay

An essay on the making of Random Acts of Legacy

Silas Fung—Obituary

Lakeland Ledger, February 26, 1997

Produced with the generous support of The Canada Council for the Arts and The Toronto Arts Council

Canada Council for the Arts logo
Toronto Arts Council