TELLING WOMEN’S STORIES & STRUGGLES VIA INDEPENDENT FILMS
(By Kelly James)
We have reached an important moment for women in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. While it minimizes the immense talent of artists of this gender to state that they are being recognized more for their unwillingness to be restricted by an infrastructure that has marginalized them than for their great skill, it’s irrefutable that some artists are receiving long overdue accolades and attention. As with any artist, women are able to tell their stories from a very personal/first person perspective. There’s no shortage of talent for women involved in the industry and they are proving it more than ever by bringing an honesty and artistry to stories which reveal the journey of women in society. They are unafraid, even more so…they are emboldened during our current era. Producer Colour Keyan Miao oversaw the making of two films which, while being very different in tone and genre, present young women dealing with society’s view of them as sexual beings…as well as their own struggles.
Shattering is the tale of a teenage girl who has been molested by her stepfather. There is some ambiguity about the girl’s guilt and interest in her stepfather and this inappropriate relationship. The film shrewdly avoids a heavy handed approach at blame but the subtle uneasiness is apparent. Keyan based the story on the accounts of one of her personal friends. The producer used multiple locations as a metaphor for the family dynamic. The family home is modern to represent the mother’s view of herself as forward thinking, but not so modern that it is of an unattainable economic status for most people. The father’s office is narrow and constricting like a cage, intentionally so to illustrate his restriction and confinement.
While the setting is in the U.S., Shattering’s warm reception (Best Drama at Top Shorts film festival, and 2018’s L.A. Shorts Awards, as well as an Official Selection of the California Women’s Film Festival) included being a part of the 2017 Cannes short film corner.
Not restricted to telling modern social focused stories, Colour also produced the film Ming-Ming. This Horror-Drama of a Chinese opera dancer who accidentally gets pregnant prior to her involvement in a dance competition is a blend of traditional Hong Kong horror films and Black Swan. Miao enthusiastically signed on for the production as a fan of everything from psychological thrillers to bloody slasher movies. She tells of a somewhat supernatural occurrence during the shoot relating, “In China, film productions have a ceremony before they start shooting. They burn incense and worship Buddha, praying for a smooth shoot. However, I didn’t do it before our first day shooting. Suddenly, our lead actress had a key piece of her wardrobe missing. She insisted she brought the jacket to the set but we exhausted all efforts without success to find it. We had to change to anther coat instead. I went to temple the next day and subsequently the jacket appeared in a very obvious location which everyone insisted they had checked numerous times. Lesson learned, the metaphysical can affect a film production. It was a very weird happening that left us all wondering what might happen next.”
Miao’s work is not limited to films. Recently she conceived of and produced a music video for one of her favorite bands Soap&Skin. The video which she produced for “Cradlesong” by the Austrian experimental music artist (aka Anja Plaschg) is yet to be released but is based on the character of Church Grim from the game “Year Walk” inspired by an old Swedish tale. Romance and horror elements appear in this visually striking music video.
Producer Colour Keyan Miao has spent years honing her skills. The serendipity of the attention focused on women in the entertainment industry at this point in her career is not lost on her. Don’t shortchange her as a female in the production industry, recognize her as a consummate professional who just so happens to be female.