Over the past 11 months, we’ve all had to learn to celebrate big accomplishments differently. I’ve known people who have had babies, gotten married or graduated from high school, and each of these big events has had to be celebrated differently. In all of them, there has been a disappointment, but it hasn’t overshadowed the accomplishment.
My good friend Arnold Lim directed his first feature film and it was accepted in two film festivals. Currently, that film, All-In Madonna, is part of the Victoria Film Festival.
The feature-length film is set in a small town and tells the story of two sisters who live with a single father. The older sister decides to attend school against her father’s wishes and discovers stories of her father’s past that he was trying to keep hidden from his daughters.
All-In Madonna had its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival in December, and I had high hopes of travelling to Whistler to see the film on the big screen and to support my friend. I bought tickets, but, as I was about to book a hotel room, the travel restrictions came into effect.
I was sad that Lim, who has worked for years to get this film funded and then made, would not get to see it on the big screen. Now, with restrictions still in effect, its premiere at the Victoria Film Festival is also virtual.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to share it with people who got me to where I am, but I am thankful for the opportunity and to still be able to present my art,” said Lim. “There were times when I wasn’t sure this film was going to be made — at least not by me.”
The film was shot on southern Vancouver Island with the assistance of Islanders, who offered to provide locations and homes to shoot in, helped to find props and provided support for the cast and crew.
Lim, who grew up in Clearwater, a town of 200 people, and faced racism and segregation as the only Korean kid in school, says there was a lot of “connective tissue” between his life and the script that he could mine making the film.
Living in a pandemic, I think we can all relate to characters struggling with identity, isolation and loneliness, the film’s themes. It’s almost more fitting that the audience is not allowed to watch it in a theatre.
In 2018, Lim received a $125,000 grant from Telefilm to make the movie. He says he was rejected four times before he got the grant. “Every year I was rejected hurt just as much as the year before,” said Lim. “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. I am always working to move forward and get better.”
I think it’s important and healthy for us to share our disappointments, but our disappointment can’t overshadow our successes or the successes of others around us.
We also need to give a nod to organizations such as the Victoria Film Festival for adapting and still creating a platform for artists to share their work, so people like us can have access to great independent films.
There will always be rejection, disappointment and hurdles along the way, and that has nothing to do with the pandemic. It’s just part of life.