Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lessons learned after the B.C. election: the NDP can't win in most parts of English Canada...

This article by Chantal Hebert sums up some of my feelings about the NDP in the face of their stunning defeat in British Columbia last night.

Here are my lessons learned from the B.C. election campaign:

1) Canadian pollsters have no real idea which way Canadian voters are going to vote.

2) Parties that listen too much to pollsters who say they are 20 points ahead and assume they merely have to "not make mistakes" while on cruise control in order to win are probably headed to defeat.

3) If English Canadian voters have to choose between a flawed Liberal/Conservative and a flawed New Democrat, they'll pick the flawed Liberal/Conservative every time.

4) Running a "positive" campaign in the face of a massively negative campaign by your opponents, will lead to your defeat and victory for your opponents.

5) The 2011 result for the federal NDP was a fluke. The engineers of that 2011 result ran the BC NDP campaign in 2013 and failed miserably. In 2011, during the so-called Orange Crush, it's worth noting the NDP won only a handful more seats in English Canada. Only in fickle Quebec were they quite successful.

6) The attack that the NDP is bad at managing the economy resonates deeply with mainstream, English Canadians, even out on the west coast.

7) With a united conservative option under the BC Liberals, the BC NDP seems incapable of winning. Only when the conservative vote was divided in 1972, 1991 and 1996 did the BC NDP win.

8) Progressive voters interested in replacing conservative governments had better find another party than the NDP. Even after 12 years of BC Liberal rule, the BC NDP actually lost support.

I truly hope that Justin Trudeau continues to grow as a leader of the federal Liberals. Thus far, he's impressed me on a number of fronts. But there is much more work for him to do. The most important is probably learning Lesson #4.

Monday, May 6, 2013

'The Golden Pin': Cuando las tradiciones se interponen en el amor / 'The Golden Pin': When traditions stand in the way of love

I recently did an interview with the Latino queer website UniversoGay about my short film, 'The Golden Pin,' which has turned into a hit on YouTube. I posted the 16-minute short film there on October 24, 2012, and in six short months, it's attracted over 900,000 views! At this rate, we might be at 1 million views by the middle of June!

UniversoGay translated my answers into Spanish for their website. I offer the English version of my Q&A below.

How did you came up with the idea of the short film at the first place?

Director Cuong Ngo and myself decided we wanted to work together on a short film for his final year in film studies at York University in 2008. We decided to tackle a love story idea in which one closeted man was involved with an openly gay man. At one point, Cuong recommended to me that I write in a swim scene and the result was the first draft of 'The Golden Pin.' He and I worked back and forth on the script for several weeks until it was ready and we shot it in December 2008.

The idea was a short film and then become a movie?

Yes, we wrote the short film's script with the idea that one day we'd expand the story into a feature film.

It was based in a real story that you know or someone told you?

Cuong Ngo is Vietnamese, so he wanted to explore an Asian male character who was struggling in the closet under pressure to marry a woman and have children to continue the family line. The story we came up with wasn't based on any one person in particular, but more about a general struggle many young queer people face in their lives.

In many countries they are debating gay marriage. Do you think that with the topic installed at the society will change the mentality, like the father´s main character?

I do agree as same sex marriage becomes legalized in more and more countries, it will slowly continue to change the cultures of those countries. Canada has had equal marriage since 2003. Queer people do have the option of lifelong partnership formalized in marriage. The passage of equal marriage signifies that the society has embraced true equality in law for all people, including queer people. It also means the culture doesn't denigrate queer people and instead gives them the freedom to be happy as they see fit.

The short film had an open ending. At least I think that. Was it on purpose to make a movie later to complete the story?

Yes, it was on purpose leaving the ending of the short film open-ended. The short is just 16 minutes, so we didn't feel it was right to present an entire character arc including a full resolution in such a short time. We simply wanted to present a character caught in a dilemma that many queer people face. We also wanted to universalize the dilemma somewhat by showing the mother character having also been unhappy in her own life choices. In the short film, we simply wanted to ask the audience the question, "What would you do in these circumstances?" We didn't want to give the audience the answer as well. We want the audience to decide for themselves.

Since we have always planned to make a feature film, we are planning a longer storyline that does answer the main character's dilemma. So stay tuned with the feature film.

How was the casting, the locations, etc? The movie will be with the same people?

Cuong Ngo chose the actors to be in the short film and they did a wonderful job! Our team worked together to find the right locations all of them in Toronto. The feature film version will likely also be shot in Toronto. But we have made no casting choices about the feature film at this point.

Oriental and Occidental society and culture are different. Was different to the reaction in that places to the short movie?

The short film has resonated in many Asian countries and played in many festivals in those regions. Currently, the short film has almost 900,000 hits on YouTube and a huge number of views have come from Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Japan, Singapore, Taiwan. The YouTube video is banned in China where it's only had 16 hits. But the response from the rest of Asia to it has been strong.

Incidentally, the short film also has a large following in Saudi Arabia and Mexico, and the audience is building nicely in India as well. Of course, the most views are in the United States. The short film has struck a chord right across the world and we're very proud of that.

Any memories, funny for example or significant, that you can tell us about the filming?

The costume designers noticed the night we were shooting the swimming pool scenes with the very handsome swimmers that their Speedos were a bit loose. We worried they wouldn't stay on the swimmers in the water, so we drove quickly to a nearby Shoppers Drug Mart in order to buy safety pins. The costume people used the safety pins to tighten the Speedos on our swimmers to make sure they didn't fall off in the pool. And they mostly worked, although one swimmer has a slight problem in one shot that you can see in the short film.