A lonely mother and an angry daughter are forced to come to terms with their individual regrets within their relationship. Will they ever be able to forgive themselves, or each other?

This project was awarded the John C. Kerr Chancellor Emeritus Award for Excellence in Media and the Saralee James Memorial Award

Looking Back - Trailer


What is your biggest regret?

For Maria, a well-established, professional Filipino woman, her biggest regret has to do with her relationship with her mother, Gloria. When Maria finds out Gloria has passed away, she is angry that she has been abandoned once again without explanation (just as Gloria did when Maria was a child) – an anger she has carried with her throughout her life.

Gloria, on the other hand, is full of regret about all of the decisions she has made regarding Maria – a regret she has carried throughout her life. But given Gloria’s situation, was she really to blame?

Director's Statement

Looking Back is based on my personal story and my relationship with my late mother. The short takes the form of a musical, since music was a defining aspect of our relationship – it was a way that we could communicate, even when we couldn’t find the right words.

This film is both a tribute and an apology, fueled by regret and a renewed understanding of the many challenges both she – and many others who struggle with mental health – face throughout their lives.

Artist Statement

My work stems from a personal desire to challenge the status quo and to reflect on perceptions of ourselves and others. Issues of inequality and minority representation have always been deeply important for me to address and have manifested in my art practice through the recurring themes of identity, memory and morality.

As a first generation Canadian and a member of the sole Filipino family in the community where I was raised, I am no stranger to what it means to question your identity. I also see how some of that questioning has been influenced by not seeing my experience represented or reflected in my community and mainstream media. Through creating characters who disrupt the current boundaries inhibiting these stories from being seen or told, my hope is to bring about stronger and more diverse perspectives and move away from a linear way of thinking.

Time is also something that we perceive is linear, but is in fact, not. My work plays with space and time, as I feel that is also a reflection of life. We do not walk through life in a straight line; rather, we move back and forth between influences from our past, our hopes for the future, all the while joining (or avoiding) the paths of others.

I have pursued filmmaking as my chosen medium because it combines everything I love – storytelling, artistic expression, community building and critical engagement. These passions have led me to produce a body of work that allows me to join my audience in working through some difficult conversations, observe the beauty of humanity and capture its stories.

While much of my work is fictional, I hope my stories evoke something real and meaningful for the viewer, whether emotional, intellectual, or both.


One of the reasons I love being a filmmaker is that the artistic process relies heavily on creative collaboration. This film would not have happened without the generosity of some amazing people who gave their time, talents and resources to help a film student make a musical for her grad film!

Each of them made a huge impact in their own special and unique way, and I am humbled and grateful for their individual contributions in telling this story. You can find all of their names above.


Anna Anaka is a Canadian writer/director of Filipino and Spanish descent. She currently resides in Vancouver, BC, but is proud to have been born and raised in Swift Current, SK. She holds a Bachelor of Media Arts in Film + Screen Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Her art practice in filmmaking explores themes of identity, memory and morality. With a cinematic style that plays with space and time, her character-driven stories examine the human condition and stimulate critical engagement from her audiences.

In addition to her work in the commercial film industry, she is currently developing her first feature length projects: Discomfort, which addresses sexual exploitation in historical and contemporary contexts, and Looking Back, based on her dramatic, musical short of the same name, which explores themes of family and mental health.