Saturday 19 August 2017

US tourists forced to miss 'Cannes Film Festival' after their passports were stolen in Dublin

Lorelai Tong and Wei Shen
Lorelai Tong and Wei Shen

Rebecca Lumley

Two US tourists have been left stranded in Dublin after their car was robbed and their passports were stolen last week.

Lorelai Tong and Wei Shen were forced to cancel their upcoming trip to the Cannes Film Festival, where they were to host a solo exhibition, because of delays in issuing them new visas.

While Mr Shen has been issued with new documentation, Ms Tong has been left in limbo and is still awaiting approval to fly home.

She told Independent.ie: “I don’t even know when I can go back to the US now. I just really want to go home to see my son. He’s only one and it’s been a long time.”

The couple travelled over from San Francisco on April 27 and were due to fly home last week, when their car was broken into and their possessions robbed. They had been in Ireland on behalf of their company DreameGG Funding Club, a website which connects film-makers and investors in the US.

Ms Tong and Mr Wei returned to their car after taking a tour of Kilmainham Gaol to find the windows broken and their passports gone. The couple’s professional equipment was also taken from the boot of the car.

Ms Tong said: “We lost three backpacks, three laptops, expensive lenses, microphones and all the stuff we used to shoot, to document us visiting. So a lot of professional equipment was lost as well as all the pictures and videos (from the trip).”

The couple came to Dublin with investors of one of their newest projects, a film called Don’t Leave Home, which is being shot in Celbridge, Co Kildare. During what was meant to be a short trip, Ms Tong and Mr Wei visited the film set, as well as taking in sights on the West Coast and travelling to Northern Ireland. They were robbed the day before they were due to fly home.

The couple have suffered significant financial loss due to the incident and are now faced with replacing all stolen equipment, as well as paying to stay in hotels until a new visa has been issued for Ms Tong. It is their business that has suffered most, however, with Ms Tong saying “Cannes was the biggest loss.”

The couple had been due to fly back to Europe in the coming week to attend the prestigious film festival and present an exhibition on their company.

Having “prepared for months” for their Cannes showcase, Ms Tong and Mr Wei must now leave responsibility for the exhibition in the hands of a colleague who can make the journey.

While their trip fell short of idyllic, Ms Tong was able to remain good humoured about the whole affair.

She said: “We really loved this place, it is our first time here and the people have been wonderful, except for the ones who did this.

“You know what’s funny, I just realised this two days ago. The movie that we were visiting is called Don’t Leave Home and the idea behind the movie is that you might not come back.

“Maybe Ireland is a perfect place for this movie.”

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