By Wafa El-Rayes
Ottawa filmmaker and former creative director of 613TV Hingman Leung ran around her apartment in excitement when her directorial debut was announced as a finalist in CBC’s Short Film Face Off.
Leung’s nominated short film “Curbside Pickup” follows the story of a woman facing the challenges of entering the dating scene while in her thirties during a global pandemic. The film asks the question, “What if the hardest thing about dating in 2020 isn’t the pandemic?”
“This film is about entering a scary situation, and believing in yourself,” Leung said. “Dating is the situational context, but if I had to boil down the film into its essence, it’s about possibilities. It’s about the possibility of growing, of moving forward, of finding yourself, no matter what age you’re at.”
This sentiment mirrors Leung’s journey of finding confidence in herself as a filmmaker. She admits she never predicted the success of the now award-winning short film, which began as her first attempt at screenwriting when she took a script writing course in 2020.
Now the film is set to stream August 21 at 7pm EST as part of CBC’s Short Film Face Off, a competition that showcases nine short films by emerging filmmakers across Canada. Home viewers can vote for their favourite of the competing films during a 24-hour period once each film has aired by August 28. The competition promises the winner a shot at a career in the film and television industry with a $30,000 cash prize and a production deal.
“If I were to win, it would really solidify this vision that I have of doing filmmaking full time, and just giving me confidence in my voice as a director,” Leung said.
Leung’s exploration of romance and self-love during a global pandemic resonated with actress Kathryn Desplanque, who embodies the character Logan in “Curbside Pickup.”
“To me, the film is about grappling with your inner voice,” Desplanque says. “I had very recently come out more openly, and so it felt really good to me to participate in this film as a part of the process of exploring my queer identity and embodying it more completely.”
Desplanque was thrilled for Leung when she learned of the film’s nomination and hopes she continues to be recognized for her hard work and storytelling skills as she grows as a filmmaker. Working with Leung has made Desplanque want to act more and continue to be involved on film sets, which she found to be beautifully collaborative.
“We don’t get to see very many stories like ‘Curbside Pickup’,” she says. “Where queerness isn’t a problem, it just exists happily and doesn’t need to be catastrophized. I feel like that’s a really important part of this film.”
As pandemic safety regulations forced many to prioritize essential needs over all else, actress Trinh Kien had to put all creative projects on hold and found she had lost a part of herself. When Kien stepped into the role of Elaine in “Curbside Pickup” she was able to reclaim her creative voice.
“I really want to encourage everyone to take some time for themselves and to be creative,” Kien said. “To do anything that just doesn’t feel like work, because it really does pay off. So no matter who you are, whether or not you’re an artsy person or not, I feel like we all should have that time to let ourselves wander and explore.”
From August 14–28, CBC’s Short Film Face Off is showcasing three short films each Saturday at 7pm EST leading up to the finale on September 7. Once each film airs, they will be made available for viewers to watch on CBC Gem. Those interested in supporting “Curbside Pickup” can tune in Saturday August 21, to watch the film and submit their vote for their favourite choice by August 28. Updates about the film are available on Instagram, and you can find the latest news about the competition on Twitter.