A Kelowna-raised filmmaker is detailing his experiences growing up mixed-race in a new art film titled Mixed Up, which debuts Wednesday, Nov. 11.
Howard J. Davis was born in England and first moved to Canada when he was five. His family moved back to England and then settled in Kelowna, where Davis went to elementary and high school. He has since moved to Toronto.
Growing up in Kelowna, Davis said he wasn’t always aware that people were treated differently because of the colour of their skin but as he got older, he saw how his father was treated and had felt isolated as a mixed child.
Mixed Up is Davis’ way of showing the world his journey of finding cohesion in a world that he said, “is socialized around binaries and constructions of race, gender and orientation.”
“The film asks questions around assimilation and racialization and passing and ultimately, asks that we celebrate the beauty of being different,” he said.
Davis said he started writing the film in 2018 after being asked during an audition “to be more gay.”
“It pushed me into this strange place. I remember going home that evening and going ‘oh my god, I’ve been told it all now.’ I’ve been told I’m not Black enough, not white enough, not straight enough, not gay enough.”
“But a voice inside my head said ‘you are enough’ and (this experience) planted the seed that made me want to legitimize and normalize a mixed, queer experience. This is my normal and I want the stigma to go away,” he said.
Working on the film during a global pandemic was quite the experience as well. Davis said he was grateful for technology and being able to work with people despite the long-distance.
“My co-producer, we were always working long-distance. When the pandemic hit and we all had to isolate, nothing really changed there. I wanted to be with the interview subjects in person, but luckily, people are tech-savvy so we got footage anyway.”
“Those interviews are blended with archival footage from my family and various other forms of filming. So while nothing changed, it was still a challenge.”