A Newbie Filmmaker at the Yorkton Film Festival

“. . . and the nominees are . . .”

These are four little words that big dreams are made of and I actually got to live it in real life.

Like many film festivals the world over, the Yorkton Film Festival is virtual this year due to the pandemic. Kicking off the festival which is being held from May 27th to 30th was the award ceremony which was streamed live on opening night. My documentary Meet and Eat at Lee’s Garden was nominated in three categories: Research, Multicultural over 30 minutes, and Documentary History and Biography.  

This documentary is my first. Six years ago I had a story idea and I just knew that it had to be a documentary even though I had no experience making one. So just how did it get to be nominated for three of Yorkton Film Festival’s Golden Sheaf Awards?

I think my training and experience as an author had a lot to do with it. For the past two decades, I have been writing and publishing fiction and non-fiction. I’ve attended workshops and conferences on almost every aspect of the business of writing: how to craft stories, do research, how to pitch a story, how to write a synopsis, copyright and more. With a degree in journalism, I already knew how to interview people. Most importantly, I love documentaries. It’s been one of my favorite genres since I was a teenager. And just like the recommendation that anyone who wants to be a writer should read as much as they can, anyone who wants to make documentaries should watch as many as they can.

I figured that the skills I learned as an author would be transferable to film. After all, they are both about storytelling. So I approached filmmaking the same way I write. I found the heart of the story, and then set about to create a beginning, middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.

It was a ton of work. Maybe even two tons. There were a lot of ups and downs, moaning about who would even watch it (I do the same with my writing “Who would want to read/publish it!?”), evenings spent researching digital libraries for photographs and video footage, checking facts, finding people to interview, transcribing interviews, agonizing over which scenes to keep or cut and figuring out how to change scenes and introduce new characters. I was producer, director and writer and I loved wearing all those hats.

It premiered on the CBC on November 14, 2020, and just like I do at a book launch, I nervously hoped people would like my baby. They did.

So that is how I found myself sitting at my dining table watching the Yorkton Film Festival award ceremony on my laptop anxiously waiting to hear whether my film would win in any of its categories.

It wasn’t a Zoom conference so winners would not give an acceptance speech. The presenters did a nice job of introducing and announcing the awards. To me, it felt like the Academy Awards. Each time they announced one of my categories, I held my breath. The poster flashed across the screen and I was tense with excitement. They announced the other nominees.

And then . . . the winner was someone else.

Of course I was disappointed. The end of that dream is winning the award, but it still feels really good just to have been nominated. This is so much more than I expected for my first documentary.

My congratulations to Captive produced by Antica Productions for winning the award for Research, The Artics produced by Midnight Light Media for winning Multicultural 30 Minutes and Over, and to Mr. Emancipation: The Walter Perry Story produced by The Walter Perry Freedom Foundation for winning Documentary History and Biography. I’m looking forward to watching these films.

It ain’t over folks. Meet and Eat at Lee’s Garden was selected by the Austin Asian American Film Festival which runs from June 4-20, 2021. It was rejected by a handful of other film festivals but I’m expecting a response from 17 others throughout the year.

I’ll keep you posted.

If you’re in Canada, you can watch Meet and Eat at Lee’s Garden on CBC through their GEM app.

Following Your Dreams: An Interview with Blooming Boomers

Years ago when I first started writing, I would go to bookstores and conferences to listen to authors talk about their books. The most common question asked by the audience was: How did you do it? Now that I am a published author and have completed my first documentary, that’s a question that most people ask me. You can hear what I have to say about it on The Blooming Boomers, a podcast from Vancouver with hosts Anna and Mirella that focuses on topics for mature folks over 50 years of age. Click on the link below to listen as we discuss Creativity at a Mature Age.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/402718/6231220-s3-e4-creativity-at-a-mature-age

Writing Spaces

The time has come to say good-bye to one of my favorite writing spaces: my armchair. I’ve had it for 20 years. It started out as just a piece of living room furniture when I used to write at a desk chained to a desktop computer. However, once I got a laptop and wi-fi, I was free to sit and write anywhere in the house: the dining room table, the Continue reading

Mural Fest in Montreal

I managed to hop over to St. Laurent Boulevard last week to catch a glimpse of the MURAL festival of street art.

Mural Fest (17)

It was a beautiful, sunny day and St. Laurent was crowded. I wandered up and down the street checking out the murals and the sidewalk sale. I didn’t grab a brochure detailing the names of the artists and some of the ones pictured here may not officially be part of the festival, but you can check them out here. Continue reading

Paper Fortune Cookie Tutorial

Here’s a neat idea for a Chinese New Year party from the blog Feels Like Home, paper fortune cookies!

 * * *

You won’t believe how easy it is to make these paper fortune cookies. They’re inspired by the Silhouette machine template below, but you can make them almost as easily without a machine.

When I saw these paper fortune cookies in the Silhouette store, I had to make some.

Read more: http://www.feelslikehomeblog.com/2013/12/paper-fortune-cookie-tutorial/#ixzz3QjlufkXJ
Follow us: @TaraZiegmont on Twitter | FeelsLikeHome on Facebook

 

Fabergé: Jeweller to the Czars

The Fabulous Fabergé Eggs

I saw the exhibit on the Fabergé Eggs at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this week and they are an excellent example of this week’s Photo Challenge: Endurance. They are stunning pieces of art and craftsmanship that have endured over time. Carl Fabergé also created other jeweled and gold encrusted items such as frames, dishes, umbrella handles, cane handles, and carvings, but it’s the famous eggs that caught my imagination.

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Street Stopping Art

There are a lot of street closures and detours due to all the construction going on in Montreal, but you may want to take a look at a street closure of a different kind. On the corner of Sherbrooke Street and Musée Avenue is a work by Claude Cormier made entirely out of temporary overlay markers (TOM). It is a tribute to the work of jeweller to the Czars, Carl Fabergé, whose work is currently on exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts.

 

Claude Cormier

Claude Cormier

 

Mirage - TOM III

Mirage – TOM III a tribute to Carl Faberge

The Fitting Room by Cheryl Sim

Chinese Fever

Looking for some free things to do around Montreal? Head towards Chinatown and take a look at a couple of exhibits by local artists.

Cheryl Sim

Cheryl Sim

La Cabine d’Essayage (The Fitting Room) by Cheryl Sim is aptly located in a small corner of a shopping mall in Chinatown amid clothing and accessory boutiques.

Sim examines the cheongsam, which according to her, is a dress that has become an internationally recognized symbol of Chinese cultural identity. She asks Canadian-born Chinese women how they feel about the dress and if they have a desire to wear it. You get to listen to their answers through headphones and feel as if you’re a part of their conversation. Also part of the exhibit is a video-sculptural work that evokes the classic Chinese screen on which photos and videos showing the evolution of the cheongsam are displayed, and a transparent, plexi-glass fitting room which projects clips from Hollywood films onto the visitor’s body.

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Digging for Chinese Treasure…in a Museum

Karen Tam

Karen Tam in front of Qing dynasty Alcove Bed at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

When my friend Karen Tam, told me earlier this year that she was the artist-in-residence at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, I asked her two questions:

1) Do the statues come to life like in the movie A Night at the Museum?
2) What was she doing there?

So maybe my imagination is fueled by movies including Indiana Jones and more recently, Monument Men, and maybe I was disappointed that the answer to my first question was “no,” but I found Karen’s project to be very intriguing.

I met her again on the last day of her residency, this time at the museum, to find out exactly what she was working on. She had spent six weeks exploring their archives and learning about the history of the museum’s collection of Chinese art and artefacts. It was late Friday morning, and we sat on a vinyl bench on the third floor where only a handful of people were perusing the display cases.

Many of the objects she examined came from antique dealers in New York, Boston and London, two of who obtained valuable artefacts because of major historical events. Goods belonging to Japanese-Americans who were interned during the Second World War wound up in the hands of Yamanaka Sadajirô and his company Yamanaka & Co which dealt in government confiscated goods. The other one was C.T. Loo.  Treasures that once belonged to the Chinese Imperial Family fell into his hands as they sold what they could in order to flee China before the fall of the Last Emperor and the Japanese invasion. Accused of being a thief and looter of China’s national treasures, Loo defended himself by saying he was actually saving the art by selling them to collectors.

It seems that the museum also played a small part in history. In the 1940s, the museum held three exhibits by Chinese artists of which one was to raise money for China’s Nationalist Party and another for China’s Communist Party. However, all three exhibits were held when Canada’s Chinese Exclusion Act (which banned Chinese immigrants from entering the country from 1923-1947 )was still in force. Canadian society, while appreciating the art and culture of the Far East, did not hold the same appreciation for the people who created it.

The museum’s Chinese collection holds many stories, but as Karen’s residency ends her interest does not. She is holding talks with the museum about the possibility of holding an exhibit based on her discoveries. In the meantime, her next installation will be at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon as part of the exhibition “Convoluted Beauty: In the Company of Emily Carr,” at the end of June. Her subject will be Lee Nam, a Chinese immigrant to British Columbia, who was a painter and a friend of Emily Carr. In collaboration with Montreal-based painter, Lui Luk Chun, a senior artist in his seventies, she will re-imagine what Lee Nam’s studio looked like in the 1930s.

You can read more about her experience as artist-in-residence at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on her blog Pumpkin Sauce. Check out her portfolio at http://www.karentam.ca.

Click on the link to learn about the artist’s residency at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.