Interview with Filmmaker Munara Muhetaer (TIGER MOM)

TIGER MOM, 21min., Canada, Drama
Directed by Munara Muhetaer
A Chinese-Canadian teenager trapped under the suffocating direction of his severe and demanding mother rebels for the first time.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Tiger parenting is a form of strict parenting, whereby parents are highly invested in ensuring their children’s success. Despite largely being a Chinese-American concept, similar parenting styles are common in various other Asian cultures. As someone who was born and partly raised in China, and partly raised in Canada in a hard working immigrant family that highly valued academic success, I was familiar with the concept but also the two-dimensional stereotypes. With “Tiger Mom”, I was interested in exploring the nuances and complexities behind the tiger parent and child dynamic. I wanted to offer the perspective of a modern young adult who suffers from immense academic pressure, but also the perspective of his immigrant single mother who’s made great sacrifices and just wants the best for her son.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Approximately two years from writing the script to finishing the film. It was a lot of time and labour, but also a lot of love.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Mommy issues?

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Not only did our team have to navigate production during the Covid-19 pandemic, this was an ambitious 20+ minutes film made on a low student budget. This definitely required a lot of creative problem-solving, wearing multiple different hats, and taking the bull by the horns, so to speak. This was my first film as a Director and Producer, and ultimately I’m grateful for the learning experience.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was thankful for everyone’s kind feedback. It’s interesting to hear slightly different interpretations of certain moments and scenes, like the dream sequence and ending of “Tiger Mom”. Then there’s the gratifying AHA moment when you realize an audience member understood your intention behind a deliberate direction, or were able to relate to the characters and their relationships (the heart of the film).

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

My love for writing came first. I was a kid whose favourite hobby was writing: scripts to act out with my friends, short stories, unfinished (and often badly written) novels. But I always liked imagining whatever I wrote as film scenes in my head – the shots, the colours, the background design. Then as I entered my teens, I fell in love with film more and more, and realized I wanted to not only write but to bring stories to the screen as a Director and Producer.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Shrek 1 & 2, most likely.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

More networking opportunities with fellow filmmakers would be fun and helpful.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Great – it is an incredibly useful platform, helping filmmakers discover, reach, and submit to many different film festivals from around the world.

10. What is your favorite meal?

It depends on the day. I love my mother’s home-cooked meals. Sushi also always hits the spot.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I am hoping to write and direct a new Short in 2023. I want to creatively challenge myself by setting constraints – really short script (I’m thinking 5 minutes max), limited locations, low budget, shot over a weekend. I also have a few other stories I look forward to developing.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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