Canada, 1994 (fiction, 87 minutes, colour, Cantonese / English)
Also known as
"Irreverent, cheeky and daring, Jade Li is a twenty-two-year-old aspiring actress looking for love and her place in the world. Like so many members of Generation X, she's culture bound. What's worse is she still lives at home with her Chinese family. Jade seeks Double Happiness, a way to keep loving her family deeply, while exploring the possibilities and the pain of a young woman growing up in the nineties. As Jade struggles to maintain the balance of her two worlds, she must answer the question she's been trying to avoid: you've got one life to live, what's it gonna be?"
-- National Film Board of Canada
|Film Credits (partial):
||Stephen Hegyes, Rose Lam Waddell|
||Sandra Oh, Stephen Chang, Allanah Ong, Frances You, Callum Keith Rennie|
||Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet|
||First Generation Films, National Film Board of Canada / Office national du film du Canada|
Awards won by Double Happiness
- Genie Award: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role -- awarded to Sandra Oh
- Genie Award: Best Achievement in Film Editing -- awarded to Alison Grace
Notes about Double Happiness
- Filmed in Vancouver.
- Shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1994.
- Nominated for a Genie Award in the Achievement in Direction category.
Quotes by the Director
"A lot of men have come up to me and told me they can relate to Double Happiness, which is one woman's journey. If you can just get your work to the consumer and let them judge. It's just that some people in marketing, and they are often not women, tend to categorize towards gender."
-- Mina Shum
"I went and watched Double Happiness with the first paid audience [...], and I noticed the Asian population who were in the theatre laughed that much harder, related that much deeper to this movie that I made, and it's because they're just dying to see themselves, we're just dying to see an honest representation of us. And I think that's one of the reasons I made movies in the first place."
-- Mina Shum
"If I'd made this film [Double Happiness] when I was 18, the dad would have been a bad guy. But I've come to understand the difficulty of coming to a new country where your education means nothing, humbling yourself, dealing with racism. He has to deal with that and he has to raise his family with a sure hand. I wanted to show the complexities of the situation rather than pretend I have any answers."
-- Mina Shum
Quotes about Double Happiness
"Double Happiness visits the familiar 'caught between two
cultures' genre that aestheticized migrant tales often rehearse. This film,
however, revitalizes expectations of the 'struggle for happiness' -- cultural
conflict between traditional parents and their modern 'Canadianized'
children -- and combines it with a coming-of-age tale."
-- Kass Banning
"[Mina] Shum's auto-referential aesthetic, her self-reflexive play with cinematic and televisual technologies of representation that have produced stereotypes of Chinese in North America, and constructed the dominant mythology of the white family as a norm in their failure to represent families of colour, is signalled to the viewer in the film's establishing shots."
-- Christopher Gittings
"In Double Happiness, the device that most overtly breaks the narrative flow is direct address to the camera. The film begins with Jade (Sandra Oh) holding a clapperboard and describing her family, and later her parents and sister also describe their feelings to the camera. As Jade points out, her family is not quite the Brady Bunch, but her allusion invites us to consider the similarities as well as the differences."
-- Jim Leach
"Stephen Chang, who plays my father, is a Rambo guy, a kung-fu guy. [...] You can't speak to him with metaphors. [Mina Shum] would talk to him very physically, literally block his every action in a very Hitchcockian way. 'Turn you head a little bit. Don't open your eyes too much. Just say the lines.' With me, she'd speak on a very, very broad emotional level, about memories, colors, feelings. Mina has an astute sensibility about how people respond to direction."
-- Sandra Oh
"Mina Shum's debut feature, Double Happiness, is a film that challenges the scopic drive of mainstream Hollywood films by intervening in what Ann Kaplan calls 'dominant looking relations'. The film, the first feature produced by a Chinese Canadian woman, self-consciously plays with its North American audience's expectations of cinematic gaze, narrative voice, subjectivity, and racial stereotypes."
-- Eleanor Ty
Quote about Double Happiness [in French]
"Stylisé et anti-naturaliste, ce premier long métrage [Double Happiness] fait preuve de beaucoup d'assurance, tant au niveau de la direction d'acteurs que de la mise en scène. Privilégiant les couleurs saturées et les apartés des personnages à la caméra, Mina Shum trace un portrait à la fois personnel et distancié, sans la lourdeur des premières oeuvres, d'une famille chinoise qui aurait sans doute pu être la sienne."
-- Mario Cloutier
Bibliography for Double Happiness
- Banning, Kass. "Playing in the Light: Canadianizing Race and Nation." In Gendering the Nation: Canadian
Women's Cinema, edited by Kay Armatage, Kass Banning, Brenda Longfellow, and Janine Marchessault, 291-310. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
- Marchetti, Gina. "Guests at The Wedding Banquet: The Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora and the Rise of the American Independents." In Contemporary American Independent Film: From the Margins to the Mainstream, edited by Chris Holmlund and Justin Wyatt, 211-225. London: Routledge, 2005.
- Melnyk, George. "The City of Dysfunction: Race and Relations in Vancouver from Shum's Double Happiness (1994) to Sweeney's Last Wedding (2001) and McDonald's The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess (2004)." In Film and the City: The Urban Imaginary in Canadian Cinema, 229-253. Edmonton: AU Press, 2014.
- Rueschmann, Eva. "Mediating Worlds / Migrating Identities:
Representing Home, Diaspora and Identity in Recent Asian American and
Asian Canadian Women's Films." In Moving Pictures,
Migrating Identities, edited by Eva Rueschmann, 180-194. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003.
- Ty, Eleanor. "Rescripting Hollywood: Performativity and Ethnic Identity in Mina Shum's Double Happiness." In The Politics of the Visible in Asian North American Narratives, 69-81. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.
Brief Sections of Books
- Gittings, Christopher E. Canadian National Cinema: Ideology, Difference and Representation. London: Routledge, 2002. (pp. 239-241)
- Monk, Katherine. Weird Sex and Snowshoes: And Other Canadian Film Phenomena. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2001. (pp. 290-291)
- O'Neill, Edward R. "Asian American Filmmakers: The Next
Generation?: Identity, Mimicry and Transtextuality in Mina Shum's Double Happiness and Quentin Lee and Justin Lin's Shopping for Fangs." Cineaction!, no. 42 (February 1997): 50-62.
- Pospísil, Tomás. "Sam and Me, Masala and Double Happiness: Multicultural Experience in Canadian Film of the Early 1990s." Brno Studies in English 33 (2007): 185-198.
Newspaper or Magazine Articles
- Benson, Sheila. "Chinese but not Chinese, and revealing the difference." Migration World, January-February 1996.
- Bilodeau, Martin. "Casse-tête chinois : maladresses de débutante et audaces de néophyte." Review of Double Happiness. Le Devoir, July 29, 1995. [in French]
- Chiose, Simona. "Double Happiness." Review of Double Happiness. Globe and Mail, July 28, 1995.
- Cloutier, Mario. "Double Happiness, un coup d'envoi réussi pour Mina Shum." Review of Double Happiness. La Presse, June 12, 1995. [in French]
- Dafoe, Chris. "Happiness hasn't spoiled Mina Shum; Like the lead character in her critically -- and popularly -- acclaimed Double Happiness, Chinese-Canadian filmmaker has struggled against the disapproval of her family in the search for success." Interview with Mina Shum. Globe and Mail, October 6, 1994.
- Dussault, Serge. "Bonheur aigre-doux : une petite comédie qui a le drame à fleur de peau." La Presse, August 5, 1995. [in French]
- Klady, Leonard. "Double Happiness." Review of Double Happiness. Variety, September 19, 1994.
- Lee, Edmund. "Double daring." Interview with Mina Shum. The Village Voice, August 15, 1995.
- Maslin, Janet. "A delicate Asian flower in a motorcycle jacket." Review of Double Happiness. New York Times, July 28, 1995.
- Tanner, Louise. "Chinese girl leaves home." Interview with Mina Shum. Films in Review, November-December 1995.
- Tremblay, Odile. "Sandra Oh dans Double Happiness : un rôle sur mesure." Le Devoir, June 12, 1995. [in French]
- Vermee, Alison. "Mina Shum and Kathy Garneau: identification marks." Interview with Mina Shum, Kathy Garneau. Take One (Toronto), Autumn 1994.
Web Sites about Double Happiness