As the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) concludes today, so does the screening of Canadian films, which was the country focus at IFFI 2017. It ends with the film Meditation Park directed by Mina Shum. In conversation with NT BUZZ, Mina speaks about her film, importance of comedy and more
SHERAS FERNANDES | NT BUZZ
What we see on the screen may not be necessarily planned, as last minute improvisations are always looked out for; and Chinese-Canadian film director Mina Shum has done this in her long journey of filmmaking. Her film Meditation Park that revolves around the life of a devoted wife, mother and grandmother was the last of the eight Canadian films screened at IFFI 2017.
Being a director is not easy but one’s experience and skills of decision-making come to fore if given the integral responsibility of direction. Extracting the best out of an actor in a film might be the toughest part of the job, but Mina reveals that working with the cast Meditation Park was not a big deal. “When you are at a set you want to see if the person can inhabit the character he has been assigned with and also surprise you. The acting should not be exactly the same as expected, there needs to be magic,” says Mina. She goes on to add that the lead actor Cheng Pei-Pei displayed some tremendous acting skills. “One of the first scenes is that of a family and everybody needed to act like a family. The best part was that it felt like a family. I would forget to yell ‘cut’ as it felt so natural,” shares Mina.
The story revolves around a lady whose world is rocked when she finds another woman’s underwear in her husband’s laundry pile, forcing her to confront her powerlessness. “I wanted to get into the head of an older woman who spent her life serving for her family, who one day came to know that everything she had known for her entire life was a lie,” says MIna.
Humour is known to lighten the heaviest emotions and Mina has wisely chosen to use this genre of filmmaking, though she isn’t hesitant to use other genres. “I have directed crime and thriller films too. But the reason I prefer comedy is that I think there is too much of sadness in this world and we need comedy to stay uplifted. As an immigrant my family came to Canada with nothing. The only way to keep going was to laugh at things and instead of getting angry with situations my family would make jokes. I love being with other comedians because there is always good laughter,” reveals Mina.
Despite winning numerous awards and nominations for her work, Mina shares what she feels is the best award to her: “I don’t think about getting an award for my film. My real award would be when someone is changed, feels confident and shines their light more. It’s through such instances that I am motivated to tell more stories through my films,” concludes Mina.