Monica Mak, founder of Siobhan Productions Inc., is a documentary filmmaker and media studies educator.
Born in Montreal, Canada to Chinese parents, Monica began making educational documentaries, as a graduate student at McGill University. She holds a PhD in Communication Studies. She divides her time between Toronto and Montreal.
Monica has tackled a plethora of subjects. To date, these include cultural tension among young people of East Asians backgrounds; the significance of the hijab for Muslim-Canadian women; speakers of endangered languages; and the allure of Asian-Canadian beauty pageants. She has also worked on videos about peace education in post-conflict regions and Montreal classrooms, gender-based violence in post-Apartheid South Africa, and female empowerment through sports.
Ever curious, she looks forward to exploring other social issues by collaborating with different communities.
Monica has directed/co-directed, filmed and edited videos for non-profit organizations, humanitarian aid agencies and university-based research centers. These include the ALPHA Education, Endangered Language Alliance Toronto, International Rescue Committee and the Canada-South Africa Education Management Program.
Recently, she completed Saving Our Tongues, a documentary short co-directed with Dr. Anastasia Riehl, founder of Endangered Language Alliance Toronto. The film focuses on immigrant speakers of languages under threat of global extinction.
Monica has done commissioned work for various educational institutions including McGill University, Concordia University, Université de Montreal, and the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa.
Academic Video Research
After obtaining her doctorate in Communications Studies at McGill University, she pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at UKZN’s Centre for Visual Methodology on Social Change where she conducted research on participatory videomaking and its function as a catalyst for self-empowerment among women.
As a media studies educator, Monica has given media literacy and video production workshops to youth in Canada and South Africa. Such workshops have been conducted at Lakeshore Arts, Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, Planet in Focus Film Festival, and Reel Asian Film Festival. She also has taught undergraduate film and video courses at the University of Western Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University, and McGill University.
In 2010, she released Tiara, a 22-minute documentary on Asian beauty pageants in the urban centers of Canada. This film was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and is being distributed by Moving Images Distribution. On Tiara, which took six years to complete, she served as producer, director, cameraperson, offline editor — and even narrator.