Free-spirited artist Ella survived cancer, but is at her wit’s end trying to win her controlling mother-in-law Margaret’s approval. On a seemingly ordinary Sunday, ​with her mother-in-law’s life in danger, Ella ​is compelled to ​risk revealing her truth to save her. Intergenerational dynamics spiral into hilarious chaos. This Asian family comedy explores our struggle to truly belong.


  • Zoe Ho: Director
  • Zoe Ho: Writer
  • Zoe Ho: Producer
  • Samantha Saminguit: Producer
  • Zoe Ho: Key Cast, “Ella”
  • Sharmaine Yeoh: Key Cast, “Margaret”
  • Winson Won: Key Cast, “Herman”
  • Glenn Cho: Key Cast, “Cactus Pete”
  • Amanda Wong: Key Cast, “Paramedic A”
  • Karinga Wells: Key Cast, “Paramedic B”
  • Carlo Yu: Key Cast, “Homeless Person”


  • Project Title (Original Language): 麻辣仙人掌
  • Project Type: Short
  • Genres: comedy, drama, dramedy, comedy-drama
  • Runtime: 14 minutes 36 seconds
  • Completion Date: June 11, 2020
  • Production Budget: 5,850 USD
  • Country of Origin: Canada
  • Country of Filming: Canada
  • Language: Chinese, English
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Film Color: Color
  • First-time Filmmaker

Director Statement

Being a multi-disciplinary artist, for me, is in keeping with my drive to understand self-liberation versus self-limitation. We suppress our authenticity as feeling human beings in the name of respecting societal, cultural, gender and political norms. As a first generation Gen X Chinese- Canadian living in Canada, I feel the pull of tradition and my adopted culture. I question the construct of these limitations, and whether we can emancipate ourselves with the mediums of ceramics, writing, photography, and film.

Vulnerability and emotional expression such as grief are particularly taboo in my traditional culture and I like to show the cracks in these shackles of control with cathartic work that celebrate rebellion and wildness. “Cacti and Weed” (2020), as well as “Rhyme and Riza” (2019) are short films I’ve made where first generation Asian immigrants challenge their parents’ idea of success and propriety, chasing their own version of happiness and expression.

My perspective is formed by unique life experiences – living and working amongst the Inuit in Western Arctic Canada, being transplanted as a Chinese immigrant to Canada, my cancer experience, and working as an embodied mindfulness therapist with diverse populations navigating cancer, grief and life change. Only by fully allowing ourselves to own our feelings and experiences, will we be able to move towards liberation. The somatic art experiences are therefore an invitation to viewers, to engage in deeper participation, to sense the stirring within as they question their own truth.