Ri Chang Dui Hua
Stories that our parents tell us can be self-serving or protective. But what if they tell us nothing? Taiwanese filmmaker Hui-chen Huang’s mother, Anu, keeps mum about their long-departed bum of a father and why she, a butch lesbian out to her friends, married him in the first place.
In her intimate, Teddy Award–winning documentary, Huang finds ways to dismantle her mother’s secrecy and reveals a painful and surprising past. As her film begins, Huang knows only that, after her father’s suicide, Anu raised her and her sister by working as a “bad-ass priestess” in a group that performed mourning rituals at funerals. Anu was rarely there for the girls emotionally, leaving the children to go off gambling and socializing with her many girlfriends. Now that Huang has a daughter of her own and is living with her mother, she wants answers.
In a series of uncomfortable, intense encounters, the filmmaker keeps an unflinching gaze on Anu’s refusal to open up about their past or explain the distance between them. A visit to Anu’s childhood village and siblings and interviews with Anu’s ex-girlfriends chip away at her stony wall of silence, drawing out stories of a loving, sexually generous, and popular woman. Small Talk is a film of deceptively narrow scope: while uncovering the details of their bond, Huang exposes the lives of three generations of Taiwanese women and showcases how film can act as a catalyst for confession, atonement, and change.
— FRAKO LODEN
- Language: Taiwanese with English subtitles