My Wedding and Other Secrets
Emily Chu has been raised to believe that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to.
Even if ‘anything’ is at odds with her traditional Chinese parents’ wish for her to become a doctor like her two older sisters, there’s always a way around it. It’s not a bad lie if everyone is happy, and after all she gets to pursue her dream of being the next Spielberg. Everything is coming up roses – until she meets James Harrison, and accidentally falls in love with him.
Emily should know better than to fall in love with white boys, even if they are kindred nerd spirits.
Her parents are touchy about the whole “we came to New Zealand to give you the best opportunities” thing, and eldest sister Susan had to break up with her first white boyfriend on threat of disownment from Dr Chu. Problem is, by the time Emily realises her mistake, James has fallen irrevocably in love with her too. There’s nothing for it but to keep their relationship a secret…so long as everybody is happy.
With this kind of can-do attitude, things tend to always pan out for Emily. If her ambitious films are too expensive, she can simply convince James to secretly marry her for the student allowance. If he has a problem with the fact that she has to sneak back home on their wedding night, she can always impress on him the real threat of disownment. If a year or more goes by like this, and James grows increasingly reticent on the matter, and her nemesis in film class learns of her real-life troubles and urges her to ditch her hollow action extravaganzas for honest cinematic catharsis, and if on top of all this Susan’s ex-boyfriend-but-still-friend is suddenly and tragically killed in an accident and her parents’ first reaction is to pretend like nothing has happened and cause Emily to seriously question the nature of their love… then, and only then will Emily do the only thing left: break the secret to her parents.
To the surprise of everyone including Mrs Chu, Dr Chu reveals that he already knows. But accused of racism by the golden middle daughter who is engaged to a nice Chinese boy, Dr Chu relinquishes and gives Emily a way out: if James were to learn to speak Mandarin, then maybe he would consider blessing their marriage. Even more amazingly, James agrees and does it – which Emily gleefully documents on video, much to his weary chagrin. Dr Chu accepts James’ proposal and everything is roses again – until Emily realises that her mother isn’t coming to the party. And Emily can’t have that, because she needs everyone to be happy. And so once again, long-suffering James is pushed aside as Emily hatches another great plan – if she premieres her story in the big international film festival, then not only will she prove herself a master filmmaker, but her mother will be so proud that she will have no choice but to be a part of her big happy ending. Not surprisingly, her mother is a no-show – but so is James. This was the last straw, and Emily blew it. In her moment of ‘triumph’, Emily is forced to see that what she’s been doing all along is wrong.
Because on the pretense of keeping everybody happy, Emily has only been thinking of herself. If all she wants is love, then she has to realise that love isn’t just about what she wants. It’s not about plans or strategies or even saying what you mean. She isn’t going to win James back with a big spectacular speech like they do in the movies, and her mother isn’t going to come around just because Emily says she understands all the sacrifices she has made for her in coming to New Zealand. Torn between her family and the man she loves, Emily must come to terms with the fact that to give love fully, she has to be true to herself and everyone she holds dear.
2011: Hola AUNZ Film Festival