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Interview Mimi Chan – Producer of Wah Lum Films

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Molly Jou, Media Relations, AsianBoston Media Group 

pui-chan-poster

This interview was conducted after the screening of producer Mimi Chan’s first film: Pui Chan – Kung Fu Pioneer. For the love of her father and her yearning for kung fu, Mimi conveyed Pui’s life with passion and inspiration.

MollyAB: What does martial arts mean in your life?

Mimi: Kung Fu is not necessary something I do, but a way of life. I started learning Kung Fu when I was three years old, and I have done it in my entire life. There are a lot of principles and philosophies I use every day. It’s part of who I am.

MAB: What inspired you in making the film, Pui Chan – Kung Fu Pioneer?

Mimi: My father inspired me. I always knew I wanted to make a film about my father because his life is so inspirational and interesting. He had lots of adventures and has done things that I think people can be motivated by…in living out their dreams. I think film is a good way to share Kung Fu, which is very visual, especially in the documentary of my father’s life.

MAB: Did the father-daughter relationship help or obstruct the shooting of the documentary?

Mimi: My father is very energetic as you know, so it was a little bit difficult to have him sit still (both laughed). He has always believed in every project I have taken on. When my father knew that I was going to make this film, he knew that I was going to do a good job and so he was very cooperative and proud that his life can be shared with a lot of people, and that this documentary can be part of his legacy.

MAB: How would the film impact Asian/Chinese community?

Mimi: I think that the Asian and Chinese communities would particularly feel very proud. Sometimes, Asian portrayals are not overly positive in film today. My father, who doesn’t have formal education, was still able to do so many things, and would be a light to Asian society. He learned from Chinese culture and principles, and transformed that into life. Especially, when he was living the American dream; I think that a lot of Asian Americans can feel connected to his story.

MAB: What about the overall goal of this film?

Mimi: The goal is to inspire people. My father is so charismatic that people are happy to meet him and be affected by his presence. I hope that his story can inspire people to keep in touch with their tradition so they can be true to themselves, even in this modern world.

MAB: What is the word or sentence that represents your relationship with kung fu?

Mimi: We like to teach our students that kung fu is hard work, but it is also a way of life. This is how we keep moving forward.

MAB: Any suggestions to whoever wants to learn kung fu?

Mimi: I would absolutely recommend that they try it. Join Wah Lum Kung Fu. (both laughed). I would also tell them Wah Lum is a very traditional system. People should be prepared to work hard and learn the culture in addition to the physical activities.

MAB: You mentioned in the film that you weren’t a fan of kung fu. What was the turning point of you finally enjoying it?

Mimi: It would probably be when I was fifteen or sixteen years old. I saw how people from all over the world came to learn kung fu from my father. I started to feel how strong my body was and how I started to have the connection. My father always says that if you expose children to kung fu, it would eventually fill their heart. I was always there even though I didn’t necessarily embrace it. And with respect to my father, kung fu made me who I am today.

MAB: Is there any difference to you learning and teaching kung fu?

Mimi: As a teacher, the most important thing is to know that I was a student. I know how it feels to be a student. So, that helps me to be a better instructor and I learn from my students. It is like reciprocation.

MAB: What challenged you the most on making the film?

Mimi: This is my first film. It was challenging for me to work on all the technical issues by myself. But the biggest challenge was to take all the information and condense the story for the general public. I had to keep it less personal so that people who have not learned kung fu, or didn’t know my father, could be interested and able to watch it. 

MAB: Have you any thoughts about your next production?

Mimi: I enjoy showing positivity and inspiring people. I would like to do another documentary on someone who has made a positive impact on people. It wouldn’t necessarily be about kung fu, even though it would be a good branch. (laughed)

I want to thank producer Mimi Chan for the wonderful story of her father, Grandmaster Pui Chan.  We look forward to her next production.