Image: Yen Tan

GOLDEN DELICIOUS is Vancouver-based director Jason Karman’s feature debut. When basketball-obsessed Aleks moves in across the street, Asian-Canadian teen Jake finds himself trying out for the basketball team to get his attention in this classic coming-of-age drama set in the digital age. Mixing complex themes such as family expectations, queer first love, and peer pressure, GOLDEN DELICIOUS garnered numerous awards after its VIFF debut in 2022, including Best Canadian Feature Film at VAFF . BC Creates interviewed director Jason Karman to learn more about the film and its making.


What served as your primary inspiration for this film, and what influences did you draw upon for the concept and direction of GOLDEN DELICIOUS?

I was primarily inspired by LOVE SIMON when making GOLDEN DELICIOUS. Many coming-of-age films gloss over social media pressure on young minds, but LOVE SIMON addresses it through narration. I wanted the audience to better empathize with our teenage hero, Jake Wong. I addressed social media pressure visually by juxtaposing the digital world, as shown through the vertical aspect ratio and the sense of immediacy that comes with that, with the real world represented by widescreen. Our acceptance of varying aspect ratios as part of the visual cinematic language today is made possible by the proliferation of Instagram stories and Zoom in the past six years.

“Saving Face” is another influence that I drew upon for GOLDEN DELICIOUS. It is a strategy to avoid embarrassment to survive and is a core value in many Asian immigrant families. The Wong Family uses this and keeps activities that they find fulfilling separate and hidden, except for Jake’s sister, Janet. I liked how Gorrman Lee’s award-winning script explored relationships through comparisons. We see how his parents’ treatment of his sister differs from their treatment of him. We compare Jake’s relationship with his girlfriend with that of his parents. Through contrast, we reveal a hidden truth that must be addressed to move forward.


Can you tell me more about how the digital age plays into the themes explored?

Growing up, I did not have to deal with being online, so I wanted to explore how this affects teenagers. As a part-time educator, I have heard from students that being online can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. I wanted digital technology to be prevalent in the film by integrating cell phone perspectives throughout the film. Emotions can be amplified online, and I have seen people become alienated through casual remarks they have made on social media. I can imagine how anxiety-inducing and unforgiving it must be for a young person trying to find their identity and their place in the world today. I wanted to make a film that a teenager could relate to today and offer hope during one’s formative years.

Photo by Syd Wong

It’s exciting to see a local story in a local setting. What about Vancouver inspired you to set the film here?

Vancouver has a sizeable Asian diaspora community, and it’s also a very beautiful city with an exciting culinary scene, but it rarely plays itself because it’s always compared to more recognizable cities like New York or Seattle. With its progressive stance on social issues and high social media literacy amongst its multicultural population, Vancouver is still trying to find its identity. All these elements inspire me to set GOLDEN DELICIOUS here.


How did you distance GOLDEN DELICIOUS from what is expected of a coming-of-age film?

GOLDEN DELICIOUS is a mix of a few genres – the coming-of-age/coming-out story, a tender rom-com, and an intense family drama. When making GOLDEN DELICIOUS, it was imperative to acknowledge Jake’s family because coming of age doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There is a strong sense of heritage within Asian families that can be debilitating and suffocating to finding happiness.


What was the biggest risk you took in creating and directing this film?

The most significant risk I took was casting this film over Zoom in December 2020; I was entrusting strangers to carry my first feature without meeting them in person. Often, I identify contrasting elements within actors as it makes them more compelling to watch. I see how well they take direction and look at their acting range. Due to COVID restrictions, we didn’t have a chance to do in-person chemistry reads, so everything I interpreted was done through my laptop monitor. This risk paid off when Cardi Wong, Chris Carson and Ryan Mah were nominated for the UBCP/ACTRA awards in November 2023 for their work on GOLDEN DELICIOUS. Cardi Wong won Best Lead Performer in a Motion Picture.

Photo by Syd Wong

What do you hope audiences will take away from watching GOLDEN DELICIOUS?

I hope viewers, especially from underrepresented communities, use this film to discuss more complicated things holding them back. I also hope viewers, especially older ones, can empathize with the younger generation and what they are going through with social media being so prevalent in their lives. Being inundated with imagery on who to be, how to be and when to do things can be anxiety-inducing, especially during one’s formative years. It is vital to not instantly judge someone until we understand the context of what we are looking at.


GOLDEN DELICIOUS is available on Apple TV and Cineplex Store. Discover more platforms to watch the film through their distributor, Vortex Media.