Vancouver writer/director Mina Shum‘s 1994 first feature Double Happiness was a breakout hit and winner of the Best Canadian Feature film at TIFF. It was featured on a recent episode of CBC Televisions The Filmmakers series.
Her new film Meditation Park is a bittersweet comedy about a devoted Chinese-Canadian wife and mother in East Vancouver whose life and family are forever altered after she discovers an orange thong in her husband’s pocket, forcing her on a journey of truth and liberation.
The film stars Pei-Pei Cheng who has had an incredible career in China as a martial artist and actor most recognized in North American from her role in the critically-claimed Crouching Tiger, Hiden Dragon. Rounding out the cast are Tzi Ma, Don McKellar and Sandra Oh. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and opens in theatres on March 9, 2018.
For years independently owned and operated theaters have become a rare thing. Growing up there were plenty of neighborhood-based theaters that ran a variety of Hollywood, independent or really any films that would fill the seats. I have happy memories of Sergio Leone shoot-fests, foreign films etc. at the Capital on Rideau, the original Bytowne, the Mayfair etc. So most of those theaters are still here and doing a great job in delivering films where spandex is not the prevailing fashion sense.
What’s changed is just how important this role has become in our current situation where while. We have plenty ways to deliver content across a variety of platforms and modalities, the actual ‘movie going’ experience has become less available as major chains focus on algorithm-based content that reduce choice and availability. To which I don’t fault them for doing so, its a business after all and the fact that any chains thrive at all in the Netflix universe is magic to me anyways.
Independents give you the choices you wont find in chains but also give you the experience of a theater which, for me, is a big part of the deal. Independents provide the opportunity for a new artist to see their work on the big screen, for festivals to reach out to their audiences as well as specialized programming to meet other needs. By extending choice independently owned theaters extend the experience of movie goers and for that they should be treasured.
Ottawa winters are cold and many people in our city go without adequate accommodation and protection from the elements. In his first feature length documentary Project Cold Days, filmmaker Stephen Coleman helps us meet these often invisible and voiceless people and allows them to tell their stories. He dropped by CKCU for an interview with Monique Fuller (host of A Luta Continua) and I tagged along to take some behind the scenes video. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
At 17 Jérémie dreams of a life different from the one that awaits him at the family sawmill in the small Canadian town where he lives. Jérémie is more interested in pimping his car, listening to hip hop, and slacking off with his friends. This impressionistic debut, built upon convincing performances, tells of a summer that completely changed a teenager’s life. – KVIFF