Will You Look At Me
After spending some time in New York, filmmaker Shuli Huang returns to his hometown of Wenzhou. Without his lover, who is about to start studying in Belgium, he is alone with his family. Huang’s mother can’t accept that her son is gay, and begs him to lead a “normal” life. We hear their conversations in the form of a voice-over, as they run the gamut from self-reproach and wailing to emotional blackmail. Motherly love and social conventions collide painfully time after time, without any resolution.
Huang edited the conversations to Super8 material filmed during his visit home, of a city through fogged-up glasses, loving shots of his mother, flashes of his father, and the filmmaker himself: a shadow, waving to the camera but never truly in view. This intimate and gorgeously composed film won the director a Queer Palm at Semaine de la Critique in Cannes.
Dear Mother, I Meant to Write About Death
Suddenly, Siyi Chen is unable to reach her mother. The daughter suspects there’s something amiss, and travels from America to the small town in China where she was born. It turns out her mother wasn’t on holiday as she had claimed, but had an operation. A tumour was removed, and it was malignant.
Why didn’t Siyi’s mother tell her she had cancer? This is just the first in a long list of questions, in this tender feature-length debut in which mother and daughter examine their relationships with illness, with death, and with each other. While they start talking for the first time about their feelings and fears, a broader picture emerges of the toll that life as a healthcare professional can take.
The filmmaker grew up at the local hospital, where her mother is a doctor. Her mother hid her emotions behind a mask of rational calm—a mask that she passed on to her daughter. But now it seems some limits have been reached.
Nominated for IDFA Award for Best First Feature