Take me back to the NSI Drama Prize film gallery

Presented by the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation

Synopsis

When an old photograph dredges up the glamorous life Mrs. Wong, an aging piano teacher, could have had as a singer in the Chinese Opera, she joins a busker in song wowing frigid Toronto crowds.

Creative team

Producer: Alex Molenaar
Writer: Peter Murphy
Director: Leah Cameron

About the creative team

Peter-Murphy-Alex-Molenaar-Leah-Cameron

Above: Peter Murphy and Alex Molenaar; Leah-Cameron

Alex Molenaar

Alex’s producing credits include a number of unique, innovative and award-winning short films that have been broadcast internationally and played at film festivals around the world including: Subway Harmonies (Palm Springs Shortfest, Montreal World Film Festival, Bravo!FACT); Firing Line (Miami Short Film Festival, CBC’s Canadian Reflections); and Pleased to Meet You (NSI Online Short Film Festival, Movieola).

He is currently producing the short film Frigid (March 2013), with the participation of the Canada and Ontario Arts Councils and is developing the feature film Masks as part of NSI Features First.

In addition to his film work, Alex has directed commercials, promotions and branded content spots for a client list that includes: Nissan, Thomas Cook, Hasbro, Campbell’s and Mattel. His work spans a range of product genres including: automotive, travel, packaged goods, kids’ toys and personal care products.

Alex Molenaar is a graduate of McGill University and is an alumnus of the National Screen Institute.

Peter Murphy

Peter is a Toronto editor/writer, originally from Kingston, Ontario. Having studied immigration and settlement at Ryerson University, Peter’s MA thesis examined the connections between race and foreignness in Hollywood film.

Peter interned as a researcher for documentary filmmaker Min Sook Lee’s 2006 short film Borderless.

While at Ryerson, Peter guest-lectured in the sociology department on depictions of race, gender and sexuality in Hollywood, and also worked as an editorial assistant to Murray Pomerance for his film studies anthology, A Family Affair: Cinema Calls Home.

Writing Subway Harmonies was a great opportunity for Peter to draw on his studies of Canadian immigrant stories – with a musical climax inspired by a real-life encounter in the Toronto subway system. The Subway Harmonies script was selected for the 2009 NSI Drama Prize course. The finished film played at the Palm Springs International, Montreal World, ReelWorld (Toronto), Kingston Canadian and Miami short film festivals.

Peter is currently a production editor with Thomson Reuters and his first feature script, The Glass Slipper Rebellion, is in the process of being developed as a graphic novel.

Leah Cameron

Leah is a writer and director who currently divides her time between Toronto and L.A.

In 2011 she graduated from the American Film Institute’s MFA Conservatory program where she won the Joseph Stefano Scholarship for Excellence in Screenwriting. She also interned at Blindwink (Rango, The Lone Ranger) and River Road Entertainment (12 Years a Slave, Brokeback Mountain).

Shorts she has written and/or directed have played international festivals including Cameraimage in Poland, the East End Film Festival in London, the Palm Springs Short Film Festival and the Montreal International Film Festival. Her short video work has also appeared in art galleries such as the Khyber Gallery in Halifax.

With support from NSI and BravoFact!, Subway Harmonies screened at the Canadian Consulate in Ghana and Bravo Canada.

Although Leah spends half her time in California, she is still a Torontonian and Canadian at heart. As hard as she tries, Canadian themes and characters continue to creep into her work.

About the cast

Grace Armas / Mrs Wong

Grace-Armas

After spending four years hitting the books in pre-medical school back in the Philippines and one month in medical school, Grace quit after seeing her first cadaver, immigrated to Canada, her heart’s desire to become an actor was way stronger than becoming a doctor (her parents idea to begin with) that she first got involved in the business by doing theatre, playing the role of, ironically, a Filipino immigrant in Straight Stitching that required non-professional singing!

There was  no stopping Grace after that.  With no vocal coaching, she worked on her singing, having been teased all her life about being tone-deaf, her dog scratching at the patio door begging to be let out, every time she practiced and her desire to become a good singer paid off by karaoke bar-hopping with her friends.

Grace then went on to doing TV roles, debuted in Scales of Justice, her other credits worth mentioning are Due South, Blue Murder, La Femme Nikita, Relic Hunter, True Crimes, The Border and many more.

Her first role in film was that of a ‘Screaming Cleaning Woman’ in Warner Brothers’ Murder at 1600 who finds, ironically, a cadaver in the bathroom of the White House. She played, again a maid in Foolish Hearts and The Two Mrs Kissels.

Being type-cast as such, Grace’s more glamorous roles were as a nurse in Fallen Angel and Chinese landlady in Bitten so that when cast in Subway Harmonies, it was such an overwhelming, uplifting and welcoming role for her

The role was also very challenging as she had to sing an an opera song helped by a rigorous crash course with vocal coach Elaine Overholt.

Mrs. Wong’s story is parallel to her own life and, finally, a role Grace can relate to.

Take me back to the NSI Drama Prize film gallery