OID_DAY_08-00152 2

TORONTO, Feb. 22, 2017 /CBC/ The coming-of-age of a 60-year-old Chinese-Canadian woman whose husband is having an affair, a story of survival on frigid Lake Superior and a unique ghost story are all set to be put to film, in part, due to funding from a new CBC initiative.

“When you have a lead character who is not a 20-something, non-person of colour, it’s really hard to fund a film,” said filmmaker Mina Shum. “We just traditionally in the marketplace underrepresent certain groups.”

It’s that lack of attention that the Breaking Barriers Film Fund is trying to help overcome.

On Wednesday, Meditation Park, written by Shum, Angelique’s Isle, written by Michelle Derosier, and Octavio Is Dead! written by Sook-Yin Lee were announced as the inaugural projects to receive financing through the fund.

‘We just traditionally in the marketplace underrepresent certain groups.’-Filmmaker Mina Shum

The CBC announced the initiative in November 2016 as a way to help level the playing field so that underrepresented creators, such as women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and other visible minorities have access to financing.

Mina Shum

Mina Shum’s project, Meditation Park, is one of three films being funded by CBC’s Breaking Barriers Film Fund. (CBC Arts)

Shum’s project stars Chinese icon Cheng Pei Pei in a bittersweet comedy about a 60-year-old woman in East Vancouver whose life is changed after she discovers evidence of her husband having an affair.

“It’s a coming-of-age story is how I think of it — she just happens to be 60,” Shum said.

“She spends her whole life taking care of her kids, her English is shaky … the plight of many isolated immigrant women, and because of something that happened, she actually is forced to venture into the outside world.”

‘To receive funding has been very, very difficult’

Having money available for artists working outside mainstream film channels can only help increase the diversity of stories that get told, said Michelle Derosier, a filmmaker based in Thunder Bay, Ont., and originally from Migisi Sahgaigan (Eagle Lake First Nation) in northern Ontario.

“To receive funding has been very, very difficult for women,” she said. “Let alone an Indigenous woman from a small northern Ontario community.”

Derosier’s film, Angelique’s Isle, is based on a true story of an Indigenous woman who was abandoned along with her husband on Isle Royale on Lake Superior in 1845 by American copper hunters.

Michelle Derosier

Thunder Bay filmmaker Michelle Derosier wrote Angelique’s Isle, a true tale of perseverance and survival on Lake Superior. (Michelle Derosier)

“It’s a survival story I suppose at its essence,” she said. “But it’s also about, I think, finding yourself.”

The third project, Octavio Is Dead! by Sook-Yin Lee, is described as a “mysterious, sensual ghost story,” about a young woman escaping her domineering mother; the story touches on themes of sexual identity, the occult and the power of reality versus imagination.

Among other criteria, each prospective project must be a fictional English-language feature film from a creator who has had at least one feature film at a recognized festival.

$7.5M over next 3 years

The CBC’s commitment will see the national broadcaster invest at least $7.5 million into the Breaking Barriers Film Fund over the next three years.

“The first three films selected for the CBC Breaking Barriers Film Fund underscore our commitment to supporting underrepresented creators who reflect the full range of voices throughout Canada,” Helen Du Toit, the fund’s interim senior director was quoted as saying in a written release issued Wednesday.

All three films are also supported by Telefilm Canada.

Full details about the Breaking Barriers Film Fund can be found on the website: www.cbc.ca/breakingbarriers.

Original Article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/breaking-barrier-first-recipients-1.3986672