Short film ‘The Day We Met’ packs a mighty emotional punch
I produce the bulk of the articles for YVR Screen Scene, and unless I’m writing an opinion piece, I generally write in the third person.
But this is that rare occasion where I’m writing an interview-driven article in the first person because I’m proudly biased, and I want to own my bias outright.
And that bias is as follows:
I love short films.
I believe that the filmmakers who make shorts are some of the most fearless and talented artists working in this city.
I've been known to argue that short films can be just as challenging to make as feature films, because directors need to distill an authentic journey down into a handful of minutes – and that’s a lot harder to accomplish than it sounds.
I’m especially ride-or-die for locally made short films that hold a mirror up to the beauty and ugly truths of this difficult city – and I’m currently walking on air because Storyhive released its latest batch of digital shorts on September 6, which means dozens of films that were produced by filmmakers right here in the Lower Mainland are now online for our viewing pleasure.
Among them: The Day We Met, which is a prime example of a short film that successfully whisks its audiences away on a fully formed and deeply emotional cinematic journey.
Co-directed by Mayumi Yoshida (Akashi) and Nach Dudsdeemaytha (co-founder of This is a Spoon Studios), The Day We Met tells the story of a Korean adoptee who decides to seek out his birth mother at the same time that he and his partner are trying (and failing) to get pregnant.
The Korean adoptee and father-to-be is portrayed by Lee Shorten (The Man in the High Castle), who mined his own experiences as an adoptee growing up in Australia to write the script.
Watch it here (but make sure you have tissues at the ready):
The directors are both rising stars in their own rights. Dudsdeemaytha produced some of the most talked-about indie projects of the last couple of years, including Cypher, Inconceivable, I Love You So Much It’s Killing Them, and Akashi.
Yoshida wrote, directed, and starred in Akashi, which won her the Matrix Award at the 2018 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, the award for Best Female Director at the 2018 Vancouver Short Film Festival, and the Outstanding Writer Award at the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival.
Together, Yoshida and Dudsdeemaytha shared creative producing duties for the 13th Annual Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon (which culminates in a gala on Sunday night at the Rio Theatre), organized a full day of Diversity in Filmmaking Panels featuring industry leaders and professionals this past June, and co-directed another short film – Tokyo Lovers, shot on location in Japan – that will premiere in Vancouver this fall.
Despite their shared and individual successes, Yoshida and Dudsdeemaytha are all about elevating their peers, and that’s how The Day We Met came to be.
“We have a bunch of friends who all happen to be Asian, and they’re all mainly actors, and I threw out the idea of, ‘Why don’t we all pitch projects, and if anyone gets in, we all support the project and help out?’” recalls Yoshida. And like that, The Day We Met was born (after making it through the Storyhive selection process, that is).
The film rejects tropes around adoptees seeking out their biological parents and eschews a tidy happily-ever-after, which is representative of Shorten’s real-life experience, according to Yoshida.
“It’s really about how [Shorten’s character] is searching for himself,” says Yoshida. “Whether he meets the mother or not is not the point, and I really love how it’s not an ‘Oh, they meet again, how lovely’ kind of story.”
Yoshida is equally proud that the film delves into the nuanced topic of infertility (and as someone who has suffered pregnancy loss, this aspect of The Day We Met had me sobbing at my laptop). Says Yoshida: “As a woman, it was really important for me to have that perspective and narrative in the story.”
The Day We Met had its unofficial premiere last month at a cast and crew screening that also featured two other Storyhive films with Korean protagonists: Karaoke Mamas (about a 60-something Korean woman in Surrey who enters a karaoke contest with her BFFs to win a television) and Gong Ju (about a violent teen who is expelled from school in Korea and sent to Canada in order to change her ways).
The screening revealed the depth and breadth of storytelling potential that’s bubbling within the community, says Yoshida. “People might categorize them as, ‘Oh, three Korean films,’ or, ‘Oh, three Asian films,’ but they’re all so different,” she says. “These are all very different directors finding their voices.”
The Day We Met hits the ’net a week after the conclusion of #AsianAugust, a month in which another trio of screen projects – Crazy Rich Asians, Searching, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – won critical and commercial acclaim with their wildly different narratives centering Asian American voices.
Dudsdeemaytha says #AsianAugust has already changed the game. “The fact that they’re box office successes is such a tell as to what audiences want, and what we’re able to create as a community, and the diversity of not only the cast, but the content,” says Dudsdeemaytha, noting that Crazy Rich Asians is a rom-com and Searching is a thriller. “What it shows is that we are able to fill so many roles and tell those diverse stories and not be locked into a typecast and do it really, really well, as numbers and ratings and reviews have shown.”
“For me personally, I see a shift in how I interact with the people around me and how everyone talks and the buzz that’s going on,” he adds. “Everyone feels validated. When they see it on the screen, it becomes a mirror of, ‘Now I see myself on there, and I can tell my stories, and finally it’s my time,’ and that’s something that’s so cool to witness, because I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this electricity among my peers before.”
Pictured above: Mayumi Yoshida, Lee Shorten, and Nach Dudsdeemaytha on the set of ‘The Day We Met.’