I caught up with Eve and the Firehorse director Julia Kwan just after the show and before the official Q&A, to let her know I enjoyed her film. "It's amazing how many people come up to me and tell me they relate to the film - not just Asians but Italians, everyone," Kwan said. We chatted briefly about the film and her experience with being told her Grandmother was going to hell because she was a Buddhist. "Having someone tell you your parents and grandparents - your safety net - are going to hell is a devastating thing for a child," she noted. We also talked about her young actresses, Phoebe Kut and Hollie Lo, who play the Eng sisters, Eve and Karena. "The girls were wonderful to work with. They'd never acted before, so there were no bad habits to untrain like you see sometimes with kids who do commercials. The girls were so natural."
During the Q&A, Kwan answered questions from an appreciative and enthusiastic audience. She was asked how closely the film parallels her own life. "It's part truth and part imagination, " she said. "I grew up in a very superstitious household - superstition mixed with Buddhism. We called it Black Magic Buddhism. I was recruited to Sunday School when I was eight years old. They actually used to have people recruit kids for Sunday school." Kwan said her mother was very pragmatic about her attending Sunday School. "She said, you're in Canada, it's a Western religion, and you should assimilate - two Gods are better than one."
Another audience member asked about the part of the film where the girls at Sunday School ganged up on Eve, and whether she intended to convey Sunday School girls as "mean". "I think there are mean girls," she replied. "It wasn't about them being Sunday School girls, specifically, but about the way girls can gang up and just be mean." Kwan also addressed the film's message about the racism the Eng sisters endured. "With the Sikh boy, he was being picked on because of racism, then he picked on Karena. I guess I was trying to say that hatred breeds hatred. Maybe I was too subtle," she laughs.
The film's costume designer,Sandy Buck, took the stage to talk about the wonderful period clothes she dug up in consignment stores to give the film an authenic 1970s feel, and about two scenes where Kut and Lo had to wear harnesses. "They had to be in those harnesses for a very long time, and they never once complained. They never forgot their lines. Everyone else would be like, okay, where are we? And they always knew exactly where we were."
Asked if she's working on anything else, Kwan says, "Right now we're so grateful to be touring this film to festivals, and that's all we're focused on. I'm not in a rush to make another project. But if there are any agents out there..." she laughs. She does admit, however, to having three other projects she's working on. "I have a lot more stories inside me I want to tell," she says.