Tag Archives: family

Creating Mum: Director Anne-Marie O’Connor and Actor Kate O’Donnell on Their Award-Winning Short Film

To say that the relationship between a child and parent is fraught with emotions, most of them far from easy to put into words, is putting it lightly. Yet this is the subject of Mum, a short film that captures a visit from a trans woman to her aging mother. Having already won a handful of accolades, it began screening as part of New Irish Shorts 3 at the Galway Film Fleadh just this past Thursday, July 13th.

Mum is the creation of many talented individuals, chief among them being director Anne-Marie O’Connor and actor and star Kate O’Donnell. In addition to being able to review the short film I was also offered an interview with the two of them that allowed me to gain a better understanding of how this particular work came to be.


First off, congratulations to the both of you on the awards that Mum has won so far, at both the London Independent Film Festival and Global Shorts. To springboard off of that into our first question, as it’s screened as part of “New Irish Shorts 3” at the Galway Film Fleadh, what helps to make this an Irish film outside of the talent involved?

O’Connor: The song that is played and sung throughout the short is Black Velvet Band. It was important to me for this to link the film as it was a song that Kate’s mum used to sing to her and a song that my dad used to sing to me as a child. And although geographically it isn’t set in Ireland, the relationship between Kate and her mum feels very Irish to me and in writing this I felt that Linda was second-generation Irish and that Kate was a product of that upbringing.

I noticed in the credits that Mum was created by the two of you, but that it was only written by Anne-Marie. Could you both go into some detail regarding the creative process?

O’Connor: Kate and I are good friends and have been for years, and as she’s a leading trans actor and activist I’ve always wanted to work with her creatively. We often discuss the way that transgender people are portrayed in film and TV (the fascination with the transition, the no-one-will-ever-love-me storyline, sex workers or outsiders) and wanted to make a short that didn’t fall into those familiar tropes, to have a transgender central character in a universal story.

So I met with Kate and I asked her what story she would tell if she could and it simply came from her saying she’d love to go home and paint her mum’s nails; something she used to do when she was younger but is impossible to do because her stepfather makes life difficult (he’s always been difficult, way before Kate transitioned!). And so we built the story around her own story. It was very important for both of us that Kate was acknowledged in the creative process. So that is why it is created by both of us.

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Mum: A Short Film Review

“Mum.”

It’s a term that elicits a broad range of emotions, with each of our respective childhoods affecting how we react to it. Who we were, growing up, is a significant factor. But what about instances when who we are now is worlds apart from the person we once were?

Having spent much of her career up to now working in television, Mum is Anne-Marie O’Connor’s first short film, and one that she created with the help of star Kate O’Donnell, a transgender actor. Her debut short focuses on a trans character of the same name whose visit home is derailed by the discovery that her mother is in very poor health.

Much like the director, O’Donnell’s limited experience is also in television, where she starred in an episode of the transgender romcom series Boy Meets Girl. As the character at the centre of this short film she delivers a performance that, while uneven at points, always feels painfully real. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E19 “And the Baby and Other Things”: A TV Review

It’s funny, because with a title like “And the Baby and Other Things” you would think that this episode would be centred on little baby Barbara and her parents, Sophie and Oleg.

What’s also funny is that I wrote that opening line before watching this episode, and hey, I was exactly right. The “Baby” in question actually has nothing do with the daughter of the most-cheered-for couple on prime time television. That being said, Sophie and Oleg were actually one of my favourite parts of an episode that continues the trend of Season 6 being heavily back-loaded with Caroline-centric plots. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E18 “And the Dad Day Afternoon”: A TV Review

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I couldn’t believe my eyes when I began watching the promo for this week’s 2 Broke Girls. Max meeting her father, really? Typically any references to her upbringing are about her extremely neglectful mother, and the last time that was touched on in any major way was literally three seasons ago.

That episode was the Season 3 finale, “And the First Degree”, and it’s impossible for “And the Dad Day Afternoon” not to be compared to it, for better or for worse.
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2 Broke Girls, S6E17 “And the Jessica Shmessica”: A TV Review

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Caroline won’t shut up about her boyfriend Bobby. You know, that cute guy Bobby, her boyfriend? Given their burgeoning relationship, and the fact that he also mentions her in the same way, it makes perfect sense that this would be a Caroline-centric episode. With how few and far between these moments are, however, it doesn’t seem like the writers’ room is as comfortable with the setup as they probably should be.

That being said this is just about as linear a narrative as you can get, and while the premise is tried and true the actual scenario presented is a little harder to swallow.

Meeting your significant other’s family is such a comedic staple that it spawned an actual trilogy [everyone forgets Little Fockers], so Caroline being invited to Bobby’s childhood home, which he moved back into after his father died, is pretty standard fare. His insisting that Max go as well also makes sense, since he considers her Caroline’s family. What’s far less plausible is the entire diner staff being able to just tag along with them. Continue reading

Re: “Black Lives Matter and White Privilege”

I need to state upfront that this post is not an all-encompassing response to the Black Lives Matter movement [which I will be shortening to “BLM”] and the concept of White privilege. The title instead refers to a blog post titled “Black Lives Matter and White Privilege”. Written by Ghanaian-Canadian Samuel Sey and appearing on his site Slow to Write, the article delved into his opinions on both topics.

Regular readers of the blog will know that I don’t often respond to other blog posts in this manner; the last time I did so was back in 2014, to the article “Meet The Poster Child For ‘White Privilege’ – Then Have Your Mind Blown”. I wasn’t able to read it without addressing, and outright dismantling, many of the arguments presented, and having read Sey’s post I found myself in a similar position.

It should be mentioned that Sey and I have vastly more in common with one another than I do with Tal Fortgang, the writer of the aforementioned article. He is a fellow Canadian, POC, and Christian, actually attending a church in Toronto [although he lives just outside it]. Sey and I also, and I believe I can say this with confidence, care about the wellbeing of the Black community in North America. With all of those similarities in place it made it that much more difficult to read his post and find myself disagreeing with so many key points. Continue reading

Eight Things I Learned in Indonesia

A little over a year ago I spent four months in Indonesia. I didn’t really travel across the country, at least not in the way you would expect during that much time abroad. Instead I had the great privilege to live in Indonesia, and see it from the inside. It’s hard to put to words all that I learned, and impossible to do justice to the people I met and the experiences I had. Here is my attempt to share are a few things I learned while I was travelling.

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1) Hospitality

The first notable quality of almost every Indonesian I encountered, and especially of my host family, was their hospitality. Within 12 hours of arriving my concept of generosity and hospitality had been put to shame. My hosts not only shared their home, they shared their family, lives, and friends with me. I was adopted into their social circle, taken for day- or week-long trips by their friends while I was there. I was honoured to be one of the first people to greet the family’s first grandson alongside the immediate family.

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2) Hijabs aren’t scary

This is a fairly potent topic these days so I won’t comment too much. Over half the women on Java wear hijabs, a head covering worn by Muslim women. When I asked why they wore them, all the women I asked answered with “I wear it because I choose to.” I began to recognize beauty and comfort in these headdresses, as well as freedom of expression. These women were neither ashamed nor pious in their religion, it was simply a part of their life.

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