Julia Kwan is a screenwriter, director, and occasional producer of her own short and feature films. She has brought a keen sense of the Chinese-Canadian cultural experience to her films. Several of the films were made in conjunction with the National Film Board of Canada Her feature films include Eve and the Fire Horse (2005), as well as the feature length Documentary film Everything Will Be (2014). She is also known for her short film 10,000 Delusions (1999) which screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Julia Kwan was raised in Vancouver to Chinese immigrant parents. These childhood experiences would be a strong influence on her feature film Eve and the Fire Horse (2005). Her mother was a garment factory worker, while her father was employed as the head waiter at a Vancouver Chinese restaurant. She studied film at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto. Kwan was previously employed as a data entry clerk, and is capable of typing 105 words a minute. As of 2006, Kwan is in remission from Cancer. Kwan was born under the Chinese astrological sign of the Fire Horse. Kwan did not start making films until her 20s.
Julia Kwan was a director resident at Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Centre. After beginning her career writing and directing two short films, she made her feature Eve and the Fire Horse (2005). The film was well received, with Variety Magazine declaring it "a finely wrought period piece" and "an exceptional feature debut." Forty percent of the dialogue in Eve and the Fire Horse (2005) is spoken in Kwan's native tongue of Cantonese. The film deals with the issues that arise from the friction between traditional Buddhist beliefs and those of Catholicism for nine year old Eve (Phoebe Kut) growing up in Vancouver. The actress has appeared in three of Kwan's films. The film is "a largely autobiographical tale (of Kwan herself) growing up as a child of immigrants in Vancouver".
She has worked in a diversity of both subjects and genres throughout her filmography. Her short film Surfacing (2015) had Canadian folk musician Sarah McLachlan for a subject. . In the film, McLachlan tells anecdotes from both her childhood and professional career, in first person narration. Kwan also made a foray into animation with her short film Blossom (2010). This short experimental film showcases the changing of the seasons, as compared with the growth cycle of a child. Kwan's feature film Everything Will Be (2014) was her exploration of the effects of gentrification in Vancouver Chinatown. In the film, she interviews neighbourhood occupants that represent both the past and the future of the rapidly gentrifying community. The title of the film was inspired by an artistic installation by Martin Creed. As of late 2006, Kwan was writing a treatment of Douglas Coupland's classic novel Generation X.
|1999||10,000 Delusions||Writer, Director|
|2001||Three Sisters On Moon Lake||Writer, Director|
|2005||Eve and the Fire Horse||Writer, Director, Associate Producer|
|2007||Smile||Writer, Director, Producer|
|2014||Everything Will Be||Writer, Director|
Awards and nominations
Kwan won several awards for her feature Eve and the Fire Horse (2005). She shared the Claude Jutra Award at the 2006 Genie Awards for that film with filmmaker Stephane Lapointe. He won for his film The Secret Life of Happy People (2006). She also won a Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. for Eve and the Fire Horse (2005). At the 2006 Leo Awards, she won awards for Best Direction and Screenwriting for Eve and the Fire Horse (2005). She won the 2001 Charles Israel Screenwriting Prize for the screenplay for Eve and the Fire Horse (2005) from the Writer's Guild of Canada. In 2005, Kwan won the Best Canadian Film Award for Eve and the Fire Horse (2005) at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
- "Julia Kwan - NFB." National Film Board of Canada. Accessed October 23, 2016. https://www.nfb.ca/explore-all-directors/julia-kwan/.
- Leiren-Young, Mark. "Julia Kwan rediscovers Chinatown; Debut documentary Everything Will Be reflects her love for the community of her childhood." Vancouver Sun, September 25, 2014, D.3.
- Walker, Susan. "Canada's Sundance kid; Julia Kwan's film is festival's lone Canadian entry Story focuses on Chinese life in Vancouver." Toronto Star, January 27, 2006. Accessed October 23, 2016.
- Eisner, Ken. "VIFF 2014: Julia Kwan’s Everything Will Be Captures Vancouver’s Chinatown in Transition | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly." Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. Last modified September 24, 2014. http://www.straight.com/movies/734976/viff-2014-julia-kwans-everything-will-be-captures-vancouvers-chinatown-transition.
- Montagu, Katharine. "Eve and the Horse writer-director may be quiet, but Julia Kwan has plenty of bite." Canadian Screenwriter 9, no. 1 (October 2006), 21.
- Holt, Jim. "Vancouver director Julia Kwan gets warm reception at snowy Sundance." Canadian Press Newswire, January 21, 2006.
- Eisner, Ken. "Eve & The Fire Horse." Variety Magazine, October 31, 2005.
- Kelly, Brendan. "The great wide north: Canadian filmmakers broaden their cinema's scope to tackle international issues." Variety Magazine, September 12, 2005. Accessed November 3, 2016.
- "Julia Kwan." IMDb. Accessed October 23, 2016. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0477076/?ref_=nmbio_bio_nm.
- "Surfacing by Julia Kwan - NFB." National Film Board of Canada. Accessed October 24, 2016. https://www.nfb.ca/film/surfacing/.
- Vlessing, Etan. "Kwan, Lapointe share Genie." Hollywood Reporter, February 1, 2007. Accessed October 24, 2016. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kwan-lapointe-share-genie-129183.
- "2016 Leo Awards Winners/Nominees." Leo Awards, 2016. Accessed October 24, 2016. http://www.leoawards.com/past_winners/pdf/2006.pdf.
- "Vancouver International Film Festival (2005)." IMDb - Movies, TV and Celebrities - IMDb. Accessed November 16, 2016. http://www.imdb.com/event/ev0000678/2005.