Interview: Kate Tsang, director of ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’
Marvelous and the Black Hole is set to debut at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, marking the directorial debut of Kate Tsang. Her film celebrates an unlikely friendship between two people who couldn’t be any more polar opposite. Sammy (Miya Chech) is an unruly Chinese American teenager who is going through a tumultuous time, and Margot (Emmy award winner Rhea Pearlman) is a surly magician who is old enough to be her grandmother. They are certainly an unlikely pair, but their friendship changes both of their lives in such amazing ways.
We were lucky enough to talk with the director Kate Tsang just before the premiere about her film.
Dewey Singleton: Are you excited for others to get to see the film at Sundance?
Kate Tsang: I’m really, really excited… it’s Sundance … it’s my first time there… I’m just really, really happy to be there.
Is it a mixture of excitement … nerves … or all of the above?
The overwhelming feeling is definitely excitement… I am just so excited that people will finally get a chance to see it… it will have a chance to be seen by a wider audience because it’s virtual this year. Of course, there’s this nervousness when you are about to show something to people .. overall the feeling is very positive.
Do you read your reviews?
My producer Carolyn reads them for me, but we haven’t obviously got any yet, but we have established a system where she will look through them and tell me the good ones.
What do you hope critics .. audiences .. take from your film?
This film is meant to be a joyful celebration of resilience .. It would be the highest compliment to me if this film made someone feel better at the end of it before they say sat down. Or if it brought them some joy during this time.
I don’t know if you realize just how positive that film comes across on screen.
That’s so good to hear, thank you .. the film was definitely inspired by films which made me feel better when I was younger and a very depressed and isolated feeling kid. The films that made me feel better were fantasy films like Edward Scissorshards or E.T. or Totoro .. these were always the films that brought me joy … that’s the same kind of spirit I wanted to capture with the film.
What inspired you to put this film together in the manner in which you did?
Two things really drew me to this story were two things .. like I said .. I was very depressed as a child, and those films really influenced me in my youth that made me feel better; there was always something missing … no one looked like me, so ‘Marvelous’ is an answer to it. The core relationship of Sammy and Margo is inspired by my relationship with my grandpa. When I was a sad and depressed teenager .. he was the one who saw and made me feel validated. He taught how to turn pain into something beautiful and powerful which is the same lesson that Margot teaches Sammy.
I can’t imagine you could have done any better casting the film.
Yeah – we were so lucky .. our casting director Amy Renee .. everyone was fantastic and really game to be on this indie film .. took a chance on me as a first-time director… I mean, Miya [Cech] is a fantastic young actor, and it was a gift to work with someone of that caliber and Rhea [Perlman]… I mean I got to work with an Icon who I grew up watching in my living room. It’s really a dream cast for me.
Marvelous and the Black Hole premieres Sunday, January 31, 2021 at the Sundance Film Festival.
Photo courtesy of Dana Pleasant