By Alex Lou
Speaking from personal experience, overt expression of love (e.g. hugs, kisses, etc.) between traditional Chinese parents and their children is fairly uncommon, to say the least. It was certainly the case with Taiwanese director Huang Hui-Chen, whose interaction with her mother A-Nü had been reduced to the consumption of meals in silence. Inspired by her interaction with Taiwan filmmakers, Huang decided to use the camera as a catalyst to get her mother to open up, and to ask why there was no love between them. We learn the story of a lesbian forced into an arranged marriage, and after suffering a decade of physical and emotional abuse by an alcoholic, gambling deadbeat husband, escaped with her two young daughters to start a new life. We observed A-Nü's gregarious personality through interviews with her family members, friends and several lovers, which begged the question why she could not be the same with her children. The soul-bearing climatic scene, with mother and daughter at two ends of a dining table, drudged up a dark secret that laid out like an open wound desperate for catharsis, and I could not help but get swept up by the tidal wave of genuine emotions. Executive produced by Hou Hsiao-Hsien with music by Lim Giong, Huang must have mustered a lot of courage to make this deeply personal film, which won the Teddy Award (for LGBT themed films) for Best Documentary film in Berlinale, and received two nominations at the Golden Horse Awards.
P.S. Go give your mom a hug and tell her you love her