David Ng and Jen Sungshine's short films tell the stories of under-represented minorities in the local queer community.
Q: Love Intersections, a collection of short films available online and screened at festivals around the world, grew out of something you experienced in 2014 as part of your work with Out in Schools: how some of the city’s evangelical Chinese community protested the Vancouver School Board’s efforts to update its anti-homophobia policy, and how that protest was reported by the media.
Sungshine: I was sitting in school-board meetings, and my community was behind me with our rainbow placards, and sitting across from me were people who look like me, who could be my parents and grandparents. And the way the media was reporting on this controversy was racist, in that it painted the Chinese community as one, that they’re all super- homophobic. David and I were thinking afterward, What could we learn from this experience? And we realized the common denominator between us and the Chinese parents who were protesting was actually love. If there were a way to communicate across all of the intersections of identity, it’s through love.
Ng: The parents who were supporting the queer kids, they love their kids and wanted their kids to be safe. The parents of the opposition also love their kids and wanted them to be safe, but they perceived the issue as a threat to their safety. So we wanted to capture that moment in the philosophy of Love Intersections. We found that the most honest way to do that was to share our stories.
Q: Beyond the web, your films have been screened at festivals around the world as well as in B.C. schools.
Ng: Probably the most well-received film we’ve made, Regalia: Pride in Two Spirits, is of my friend Duane, who’s two-spirit and has the Pride flag on his regalia. It’s a simple story of him coming out and talking about the importance of holding on to his culture. That film cost us $500. It’s been used for the Gender Studies program at UBC and as part of HIV prevention by Vancouver Coastal Health. It adds nuance to different types of curricula.
Q: Last year, you won a Telus Storyhive grant to produce a six-episode series that’s being shown on Optik TV starting this spring. Does it feel like mainstream culture is catching up with your vision?
Ng: The fact that it’s groundbreaking to show a film about Duane or me or Jen—once it becomes not groundbreaking, once it becomes normal, that would be a good thing.
Q: You look forward to becoming obsolete?
Sungshine: I can’t wait!