Double Happiness (1995)
Director Mina Shum's debut feature film, Double Happiness, is a coming-of-age story that explores the often troubled relationship between cultures and generations. Jade Li (Sandra OH) was born in Hong Kong but raised in Vancouver, where her parents try to maintain Chinese traditions. She is an irreverent 22-year-old aspiring actor who lives at home but wants to move out and pursue her independence. She is prevented by the memory of her brother, who was disowned for a similar act. Her parents (Alannah Ong and Stephen Chang) desperately want her to marry a Chinese lawyer (who turns out to be gay), and her situation is further complicated by her deepening relationship with Mark (Callum Keith RENNIE), a white university student.
The multi-layered aspect of Jade's life is mirrored by the film's structure, which includes a direct address to the camera by each of the protagonists. With the actors speaking partly in character and partly as themselves, each address also works to debunk the artifice and make-believe of the film itself.
The film skilfully examines the struggles of a young woman as she attempts to balance her individuality and freedom with her culture and her family's rigid demands. Oh, in a luminous star-making performance as the conflicted Jade, won the GENIE Award for best actress, and Double Happiness won another for best editing. The expression "double happiness" is an English translation of the traditional Chinese symbol signifying a wedding and is always painted in red.