Creators who Inspire: Meet Fawzia Mirza

It took a lifetime of difficult choices and divergent paths for Fawzia Mirza to discover she was a filmmaker. And a good one, at that.

Fawzia Mirza
Fawzia Mirza

Mirza’s debut feature, The Queen of My Dreams, finds queer Pakistani woman Azra (Amrit Kaur) leaving her home in Canada to travel to Pakistan following her father's sudden death. She soon finds herself on a Bollywood-inspired journey through memories real and imagined—from her conservative mother’s (Nimra Bucha) youth in 1960s Karachi to her own coming of age in rural Nova Scotia.

“The film is based on the first short film I ever made in 2012, also titled The Queen of My Dreams,” says Mirza on the phone from Palm Springs, where she was serving as a juror for the Palm Springs International ShortFest short film festival. “That short film was really about me coming out later in life and trying to figure out if I could be queer and Muslim, and still love South Asian and Bollywood romance.”

The Queen Of My Dreams 3
From "The Queen Of My Dreams"

Mirza was born in London, Ontario, but spent her childhood in Sydney, Nova Scotia. She eventually moved to Chicago to go to law school and where she wrote and starred in a play called Me, My Mom, and Sharmila. Although she toured the play, she couldn’t fully commit to the life of an artist.

“I was a practising lawyer for just under three years and I was acting. I was lawyering by day and acting by night, so it was complex identities all around,” she says with a laugh. It was the creative life that won out, and in the past decade Mirza has written, directed, and produced a dozen short films, episodes, and TikTok shows.

But when it came to directing The Queen of My Dreams, she wasn’t sure she had the chops.

“I thought I didn't have the expertise, the technical perception, or the language,” she remembers. Other screenwriters convinced her otherwise. “They said, ‘Why aren’t you directing this? You are literally talking like a director right now about what you see and what you want.’”

The Queen Of My Dreams 5
From "The Queen Of My Dreams"

With a strong script in hand and actors attached, Mirza received financial backing through the CMF's Pilot Program for Racialized Communities to help get the film off the ground. And it was while working on her film set that Mirza realized she was exactly where she was supposed to be.

“I couldn't imagine doing anything else. It was my calling. I was on my path. I had found the thing I was meant to do.”

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, develops, finances and promotes the production of Canadian content and applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment by fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through public and private sector partnerships. The CMF receives financial contributions from the Government of Canada and Canada’s cable, satellite and IPTV distributors.
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