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Themes - Film

Mina Shum

Photograph of Mina Shum

(1965- )
Director and Writer

Mina Shum

Mina Siungai Shum is a successful Canadian independent filmmaker who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has said of herself that "'s the writing and directing that really gets me excited. I think it's in my blood.... the most satisfying thing for me is to work with my friends on a movie." (Caddell, p. 28)

Mina Shum was born in Hong Kong in 1965. She immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of nine months and grew up in Vancouver. As a teenager there, she had a part-time job at a McDonald's restaurant that she says "... taught me the importance of being able to multi-task..." (Johnson, p. 44) She left home at the age of eighteen.

Shum attended the University of British Columbia and obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Theatre) in 1988 and a Diploma in Film and Television Studies in 1990. Later, she trained to become a director at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto.

Shum has written and directed several feature films. She developed her first, Double Happiness (1994), while a resident at the Canadian Film Centre. This film is a semi-autobiographical story of a Chinese-Canadian girl who struggles with the conflicts that arise between her family's traditional expectations and her desire for independence. Double Happiness premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1994 and won a Special Jury Citation and the Metro Media Prize. Among the other awards garnered by the film were the Wolfgang Staudt Prize for Best First or Second Feature at the 1995 Berlin International Film Festival and a Genie award for Best Editing. The star of Double Happiness, Sandra Oh, won a Genie for Best Actress. The film received excellent reviews when it opened in Canada and the United States in 1995.

Mina Shum's second feature, Drive, She Said, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1997 and was in official competition at the Turin Delle Donne Film Festival. Her third feature film, Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity was screened as part of the Canadian Perspective Program at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival and at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. The film is about a young girl who uses Taoist magic to help her mother. The producer, Raymond Massey, speaking of working with Shum on the film, has said, "This is the calmest set that I have ever worked on, and a lot of that has to do with Mina's personality. She never gets angry.... There is never any anger or confrontation, which has the magical effect of winning everyone on board with her program." (Caddell, p. 27)

Shum has also produced, written and directed a number of short films including Picture Perfect (1989), Shortchanged (1990), Love In (1991), Me, Mom and Mona (short documentary, Stephen Hegyes, co-producer, 1993) and Thirsty (short documentary, 1997). As well, she wrote and directed the film Hunger (part of Breaking Up In Three Minutes, a Cineworks Omnibus Film).

Mina Shum directed a television movie entitled Mob Princess for the W Network and an episode of the anthology series Bliss for broadcast on the Oxygen and Showcase channels. More recently, she has directed Various Miracles, one of the episodes in The Shields Stories, a television series based on the stories of Canadian author Carol Shields, produced in association with the W Network.


Caddell, Ian. "Mina Shum and the Pursuit of Happiness (Part 3)." Reel West Magazine. Vol. 17, no. 2 (March-April 2002), p. 26-28.

Canadian Who's Who. Vol. XXXVIII, 2003, p. 1241.

Johnson, Brian D. "A Bold and Blissful Leap of Faith." Maclean's. Vol. 108, no. 31 (July 31, 1995), p. 42-44.

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