THE FILMMAKERS

Considering Asian representation in film with director Mina Shum, 25 years after 'Double Happiness'

Director Mina Shum looks back at what has — and hasn't — changed since her 1994 film in this extended interview from The Filmmakers.

Shum looks back at what has — and hasn't — changed since 1994 in this extended interview from The Filmmakers

Has Asian representation in film progressed since 1994? 10:31

In 1994, one film went a very long way in changing the face of Canadian cinema when Mina Shum's Double Happiness became one of the year's breakout hits. Starring Sandra Oh in her first feature, the film tells a universal story through a lens that is as often just as rare nearly 25 years later: an Asian woman's.

"I find some of the conversations that are happening now are very similar to ones I was having during Double Happiness," Shum says in an extended cut of her interview from the most recent episode of The Filmmakers. "So it's disheartening in a way because it means there's not that much actual evidence on screen. When you're having #OscarsSoWhite and questions of what stories matter...It means we haven't changed the bar that much."

Mina Shum's Double Happiness. (Mina Shum)

Shum is continuing to do her own part to change that bar, with a new film Meditation Park debuting at this year's Toronto International Film Festival that reunites her with Oh and is a "love letter to Asian moms everywhere." While you'll have to hold tight for a bit to see that film, you can watch Double Happinessonline right here and then look back on it with Shum herself.

"I'm so thrilled that the film exists," Shum says. "I remember when it first came out, I read in one of the trade magazines 'the first feature film done by an Asian-Canadian director,' and I wanted to cry — because that's sad. To me, that's sad. But now that's been 25 years later, I look and I go, 'At least we got that.'"

Tune in to The Filmmakers this Saturday at 8:30pm (9pm NT) on CBC Television, followed by the presentation of the week's feature film. Or stream both online at cbc.ca/watch.

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