Navigating the pandemic as an artist
In celebration of Asian Heritage Month this coming May, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival is kicking off its Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon campaign with a special “Diversity in Filmmaking” panel series provided virtually from May 9 to May 30, 2020 (every Saturday at 2:00 pm) to better cope with the monumental change that the pandemic has brought the world and the film industry.
In our first panel series we welcomed Mina Shum (Meditation Park, Double Happiness) and Tzi Ma (The Farewell, Mulan) moderated by our creative producer Mayumi Yoshida. They gave us an in depth perspective on how the pandemic has affected their careers and what it means to be Asian during this time.
For Tzi and Mina, production in the film industry was halted while future projects were delayed indefinitely. Mina in particular questioned her purpose and ability to serve during this crisis, realizing the importance to telling stories as a writer and filmmaker. One of the silver linings is that she has been able to work on personal goals as well, such as a solo writing project. While production has stopped, there are still opportunities for filmmakers to create.
Tzi also highlights the call for action “#washthehate” during this time to come together against discrimination and show support for one another. While he may not be acting at the moment he is still keeping busy, “ I am not working as a creator but more as an activist, but that’s not work, it’s just my responsibility as a citizen.” To aid this cause, VAFF has started #Elimin8hate which is a platform to provide an anonymous and safe reporting environment for Asian Canadians experiencing anti-Asian attacks. This platform also consolidates public resources in an accessible format to victims, and utilizes reported data for actionable change. Find out more on our website.
Beyond the current situation, Mina has found that her everyday routine is something she may try to bring into her new post-covid routine—a balance between working, physical activity, and connecting with friends. Tzi is excited to get back to his projects, as well as finally welcome the long anticipated film, Mulan, to the big screen. A film that you definitely need to experience in theaters rather than the tv screen.
One of the main takeaways from this panel is that the film community is supporting its creatives and will come out of this stronger. Both Tzi and Mina agree that artists are writing and creating more than ever during these times. There is a lot to look forward to coming from the film community. As Mina reiterates, “activity plus faith plus hope leads to how you’re gonna get through and do it”.
If you’re interested in watching the panel discussion, you can watch the recording here.
Stay tuned as well every Saturday afternoon to explore how CoVid-19 has impacted all aspects of filmmaking and filmmakers’ lives. Our creative producers Mayumi Yoshida, Nach Dudsdeemaytha and Joshua Lam, as well as producers Arnold Lim, Lynne Lee and Regina Leung will lead a panel discussion each week about different areas of film development and production and addressing issues arising in these unprecedented times. Reserve your ticket here.
Thank you to our sponsors British Columbia Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture – Multiculturalism and STORYHIVE and it’s also co-presented by Community Organizations explorASIAN, Crazy8s Film Society, Celluloid Social Club, Hapa-palooza Festival, Raindance Vancouver, PCHC-MoM Society , Vancouver Short Film Festival and Women in Film & Television Vancouver.
Sara Cortes is the content and copywriter at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. She is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia where she majored in Economics with a minor in International Relations. Her passion for Asian representation in the arts led her to join the VAFF team. Having worked in communication, journalism, events, IT, and design, Sara loves to dabble and learn a bit of everything! Anything she doesn’t know, she will watch a YouTube video about it.